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Committee OKs modern addition to historic building

May 06 2012

A proposal to add 1 1 /2 storeys to the former home of Carnaby Street Boutiques is being recommended for approval by the city's planning and land-use committee.

The additional storeys would see the addition of four residential units to 538 Yates St. as well as improvements to its sister building at 536 Yates St. - home to Ferris' Oyster Bar.

Hillel Architecture has applied for a heritage alteration permit for the historic T.B. Pearson and Coy building, which formerly housed Carnaby and, until recently, the Sitka surf and skate store, on behalf of owner Aaron Usatch of Old Town Developments. Carnaby was operated for years by Rosina Usatch, and the Usatch family has owned the buildings for more than 55 years.

The brick facade of the building at 538 Yates would not be changed but the building would be seismically upgraded and new sprinkler, fire alarm and electrical systems would be added. The neighbouring building would also see some restoration and repairs.

The proposal would add four units - between 1,250 and 1,350 square feet each - to be used by Usatch family members and as long-term rentals.

While the addition is to be contemporary, it would be set back to minimize its visibility.

City planning staff concluded that the conversion would "seismically upgrade a hazardous building - [and] contribute additional vitality to downtown."

Meanwhile, the committee also recommended approval of an application to convert one of Victoria's oldest and most historically significant houses into condos.

Known as Wentworth Villa, the house at 1156 Fort St. was built in 1862 and has been used as an antique store since 1940.

The plan by Le Fevre and Company is to provide 12 new residential units in the three main buildings on the property.

The committee had looked at the proposal in March but postponed consideration pending receipt of a heritage conservation plan. The plan has since been revised, reducing the proposed number of units to 12 from 14. bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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