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Northern Junk waterfront property plan goes to council

Dec 04 2012
Northern Junk project plan. 

Northern Junk project plan.

Photograph by: Merrick Architects , Times Colonist

A revised proposal for the high-profile waterfront Northern Junk property next to the Johnson Street bridge is scheduled to go before Victoria councillors on Thursday.

Councillors will consider whether to send the plans to public hearing.

Council members have wrestled with development plans for the site, which is home to two run-down warehouses known as the Northern Junk buildings that date back to the 1860s. Plans require that the city sell a chunk of its own adjacent land to the developer.

The complex project at the entrance to Victoria's Old Town district is set out in more than 120 pages of documents in the committee agenda. Vancouver-based Reliance Properties purchased the site, which had languished for decades, in early 2010.

The Northern Junk buildings would be restored and  linked with a glazed atrium at a cost of more than $3 million, Jon Stovell, Reliance president, said Monday. He envisions commercial use, such as a restaurant, in those structures.

A new five-storey building with ground-floor commercial space, topped with 55 to 60 condominium units would wrap around the old buildings.

The mass of the new structure has been scaled back, essentially creating two buildings instead of one, thus opening up views, Stovell said. Enhanced landscaping plans create more public pedestrian links, and warehouse rehabilitation has been refined.

A third-party economic analysis said the project's combined hard costs (such as construction) and soft costs (such as architectural work) total $31 million and would create 194 person years of employment through the planning and building phase.

Future residents would have an expected annual retail spending potential of $823,000 by 2017, the report said. The site's commercial space is anticipated to create up to 48 full time equivalent positions, resulting in gross wages of close to $1 million.

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said that he wants the proposal to go to a public hearing to give citizens an opportunity to comment. The city's advisory heritage and design committees are in favour of the latest plans.

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