Times Colonist article http://www.timescolonist.com/business/Project+pitched+Fort+Cook/6058742/story.html
Photograph by: Darren Stone, timescolonist.com
A band of small businesses will be hunting for new premises if a
developer's plan to revitalize the corner of Fort and Cook streets with a
six-storey commercial-residential project wins approval from Victoria
Some shopkeepers fear that it will be difficult to find affordable space in the future, while others are pragmatic.
is happening immediately. The developer estimates that if everything
goes smoothly — rezoning approval is needed — construction could start
in early 2014, but any start date would also be subject to market
Several condominium projects are underway or planned in
Victoria, including the 177-unit Promontory in Vic West, the 36-unit
Sovereign on Broughton Street and the $1-billion mixed-use Capital City
Centre in Colwood, where homes for thousands of residents are to be
built over 20 years.
Tenant Cathy Sorensen, owner of Sorensen
Books at 1027 Cook St., wants customers to know that she's staying put
until the new development goes ahead. She's been there since 2005 and
the site has housed a bookstore since 1984.
"It's kind of a little destination point," she said. "People come here and they go to all the shops."
N-Vision, a subsidiary of Mike Miller's Abstract Developments Inc., is
offering current tenants first refusal in the new building, but Sorensen
expects it will be out of her financial reach. No lease rates have been
Arto and Pam Arslanyan, owners of Tooks on Cook restaurant
and bakery, 1031 Cook St., are willing to take up the developer's offer
to relocate into new commercial space in another proposed
commercial-residential project at Oak Bay and Foul Bay avenues.
existing old one-storey building, purchased by Abstract in 2010, is
rundown and has "dirt-cheap" rent, said Arto, who has been there for 15
He agrees that the site needs improving. "I'm all for it . .
. You can't stand in front of progress. There have been many buildings
that have been torn down and rebuilt."
Another tenant, Shawn
Shepherd, owner of Polychrome Fine Arts at 1113 Fort St., echoed Arto's
comments about the building's condition, saying his ceiling caved in
Moving is "not a big deal," Shepherd said, even though
commercial storefront space can be expensive. "We just roll along as
things take us in different directions."
The contemporary project
at Fort and Cook was designed by D'Ambrosio architecture and urbanism,
which also designed the Atrium at Yates and Blanshard.
The aim is to "invigorate this end of Fort Street," Franc D'Ambrosio said in a Jan. 18 letter to the city.
proposed 60,000-square-foot development would consist of three
buildings linked together, with upper levels stepped back, particularly
on Meares Street, for a more residential feel, said Hussein Lalani,
Abstract's vice-president of development and chief financial officer.
would have 13,500 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, topped
by 86 condo units ranging in size from 510 square feet to 875 square
Construction cost has not been established, he said. The exterior would be brick, concrete, glass and aluminum-framed glazing.
arcade would run between Meares and Fort streets. Underground parking,
room for 107 bicycles, boulevard trees and green features such as rain
gardens are among amenities.
Lalani said the developer is offering
to help tenants set up in interim space. "We are working with them to
get them back in the building. Our big thing is supporting local
Abstract is one of the most active developers in the
capital region. Its Foul Bay-Oak Bay project, with 9,000 square fee of
commercial space and 21 condos, also requires rezoning. If approved, it
would be built first, Lalani said.
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