Just months after closing its doors in downtown Victoria, Capital Iron is poised to make a return in the same historic Store Street building it operated in for the better part of nine decades, its new owner revealed Tuesday.
The iconic 1900 Store Street location in downtown Victoria is now under new ownership and set to reopen in September 2023, following extensive renovations.
It’s a surprising turn of events because the man who bought the rights to the Capital Iron brand, Fred Aram, previously expressed intentions to open a new iteration of the store at a different location entirely.
“I didn’t know that the building was available for lease when I first bought the intellectual property, I was looking for some other properties,” Aram said.
“I found out that this part of the property is not up for development for at least for 10 years and I started negotiating with Reliance Group property company, which owns the building and property, through their realtors and managed to secure the lease.”
Capital Iron’s return aligns with long-term plan, developer says
Reliance Properties Ltd., the development company that in 2020 purchased the site the store sits on, confirmed it has been in talks with Aram on the new lease and that Capital Iron staying in the building does not impact its long-term plans for the prime waterfront property.
In fact, Reliance Properties president Jon Stovell said he believes the return of the well-loved store will fit well with its plans for the urban-industrial area, as well as the city’s vision of a vibrant, urban-industrial arts and innovation district.
“They’re basically reoccupying the old building where it originally was and they are occupying some yard area and also the metal shed warehouse, which is slated for a later phase of our our redevelopment,” Stovell told CHEK News.
The district, outlined in the city’s Victoria 3.0 plan, includes the land Reliance owns, which runs along Victoria’s Upper Harbour waterfront to Government Street between Chatham and Discovery streets. It encompasses the Capital Iron building and parking lot as well as several Government Street commercial buildings. The developer’s long-term plan includes live-work studios, industrial spaces, restaurants and other retail stores.
But Reliance’s initial focus will be redeveloping the parking lot on the west side of the Capital Iron building, Stovell said.
Since the company’s plans for the Capital Iron building won’t come to fruition for some time, he said the store making a return was a “win-win” for everyone involved.
“It’s good for us, it’s a good revenue source while we’re working on the development, you know, the underbuild parts of the proposal,” he said.
“It kind of it breathes new life into these very precious heritage buildings, brings back a popular business for the community and it meets council’s objectives of continuing to have investment and vital businesses, you know, operating in the downtown core.”
The project has not yet been approved for rezoning by Victoria City Council or gone to a public hearing, but Stovell said his firm hopes to submit a new proposal soon.
More home goods, fewer ‘gadgets and gizmos’
In a Facebook post shared earlier Tuesday, Capital Iron ownership strongly hinted it would make a return to the downtown location.
“We can’t wait to share our new look and huge selection of indoor and outdoor home goods with you all this fall. Stay tuned for more exciting updates,” the post reads.
Last year, Capital Iron’s closure was met with sadness and nostalgia from Greater Victoria residents with fond memories of the almost 90-year-old store, which began as a scrap metal business called Capital Iron and Metals Limited in 1934.
READ MORE: Long-time downtown staple, Capital Iron, closes its doors
Since then, it evolved into a beloved general and outdoors store in Greater Victoria. Mike Black, the former president and owner of the family-run business, called the decision to close both the Victoria and Langford locations the hardest of his life, citing supply chain issues, inflation, and climbing costs as contributing factors.
Now work is underway to get the store open once more, but it will look slightly different than under the previous owners.
“We just started doing the renovation, we signed a 10-year lease on the building with Reliance Property Group and we are going back in there as Capital Iron Homestore,” Aram said.
“It will be different, it will be selling a lot of technically, mostly indoor and outdoor home goods. It will not be selling gadgets and gizmos and camping gear or fishing stuff. It will be more home goods.”