The former site of Galaxy Motors in Colwood could become a new home for an eclectic collection of businesses.
A proposal by PC Urban calls for three mixed-use commercial and industrial buildings, with storefront commercial and industrial set closest to the highway.
“This will be a unique opportunity for small businesses to own space,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin. “For example, a plumber who may have one or two employees but needs office space and room for equipment.”
Ross Marshall, senior vice-president of CBRE Commercial Real Estate Victoria, said that there has been a limited amount of industrial strata developments available in Greater Victoria for the past decade.
“Until now, few opportunities have existed for business owners to own rather than lease,” Marshall said. “Now, with high demand outpacing supply and low interest rates, the case to own versus lease is significant for small to medium businesses. Hardly any opportunities to lease industrial/flex commercial space currently exist, and as such, the idea of ownership becomes very appealing as debt servicing is similar to the overall costs associated with leasing space. Consequently, business owners can build equity in their own real estate as opposed to paying their landlord’s mortgage.”
The proposed 135,000 square-foot development across from the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre is in an area that is in the process of revitalization. The roughly $40 million project will feature a contemporary design that is not the norm for industrial space in Victoria, including built-in concrete mezzanines and contemporary storefronts with substantial glazing. “It’s a premium product that we are excited to launch and we are confident it will be well-received by the market,” Marshall said.
PC Urban Properties CEO Brent Sawchyn said that the five-acre site is a prime location for small and medium businesses to buy their own real estate and build equity in their companies.
“Record-low mortgage rates and rising industrial lease rates are an incentive for businesses to buy rather than lease,” Sawchyn said. “We are excited to create a quality, well-designed industrial space for businesses in the Greater Victoria market and to bring our successful IntraUrban brand to the Island.”
A Colwood staff report notes that the property, which is intersected by Wilfert Road, has unique topographical features, including a steep elevation change from 42 metres at the highway to about 20 metres at the rear where it meets Millstream Creek. Colwood authorized on Dec. 14 that an amendment be prepared to the Land Use Bylaw that would rezone the property at 1764 Island Hwy. from Highway Commercial zone to Mixed Use Employment Centre 2 (MEUC2).
The owner will not be issued a building permit until certain conditions are met, including preparing a reference plan prepared by BC Land Surveyor with the BC Land Titles Office that identifies “The portion(s) of the riparian area to be returned to Crown in right of the Province.” All invasive species from the riparian area must be removed at the owner’s expense as well. A traffic impact assessment is also required.
The proposal will go to a public hearing at 5 p.m. on Jan. 25 to allow for the public to provide comment. Public hearing notices will be distributed to all nearby property owners through print ads and the City of Colwood’s online channels.
Marshall said everything has gone “extremely well” with the city so far.
“We hope to anticipate a favourable response,” he said. “If things go according to plan, we could be ready to start construction optimistically by the summer or later in the fall, and hope to start registration as soon as the public hearing passes.”
For more information, visit pcurban.ca/1764-island-highway-victoria-bc/.