WATCH: With innovative building technologies and a growing entertainment sector, the future Victoria is closer than ever before. Ceilidh Millar reports in Part 5 of the Downtown 2020 series.
The City of Victoria’s booming real estate market is showing no signs of slowing down.
“We’re trying to create a vibrant downtown public realm,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps SAID.
It’s all part of the future vision for Victoria as development projects gradually increase in scale with towers growing higher, denser and more populated than ever before.
“When I look ahead to 2041, which is a few years in the future, but that’s really where we are aiming,” Helps said. “I see a downtown that is full of people where it’s easy to move around by any mode. I also see a very strong business culture.”
“I see a downtown that is full of people where it’s easy to move around by any mode. I also see a very strong business culture.”
From innovative building technologies to a growing entertainment sector, many are asking what could the future Victoria will look like.
David Chard, CEO of Chard Development Ltd., was onsite at 819 Yates St. where construction is underway for a 209 rental-unit building.
This is one of Chard’s nine developments across Victoria and the Lower Mainland.
“There’s been a revitalization in the last 24 months,” Chard said.
“It’s partly because of all of the people who are moving into the downtown core.”
With the hopes of diversifying the housing market, their sleek design offers comfortable yet sustainable living complete with new technologies.
“Every building that we build is becoming more energy efficient,” Chard. said.
“We are giving purchasers keys but definitely to get into the building you need a fob for security reasons. It’s only a year or two before that fob is going to open the door into your suite.”
Experiential businesses trump retail
Justin Marrello is the owner of Infusion Edutainment at 514 Fort St. in Victoria.
They’ve been open for nearly four months and offer virtual reality in the form of gaming, movies and even holograms.
“You can travel the globe,” Marrello said.
“If you’ve never been to New York, you could do a ‘pre-travel’ and fly 500 ft. above the city before your trip.”
Experts say it’s part of a societal shift as consumers migrate online for retail and travel downtown for experiential businesses like dining, spas and entertainment.
“It’s going to explode,” Marrello said. “By the end of 2017, you’ll see a massive change. Even phones will use special cameras to start mixing reality.”
But with 865,000 square feet of commercial and office space planned and under construction in the downtown core – will all this be enough to keep Victoria’s economy and bustling tourist industry afloat for years to come?
“When all of these cranes are gone and the buildings are built we are going to have thousands of new residents,” Helps said.
“This will be their neighbourhood, backyard and living room.?
It’s a future that’s inching closer to reality and a movement that could transform one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest into a mecca of modern living.