August 14, 2012

Brizo 19 to rise in evolving Victoria neighbourhood

Developer wants to attract young first-time owners to low-rise building in Mayfair areaBrizo 19

Location: Mayfair area of Victoria

Project size/ scope: A 19-unit, four-storey residential low-rise of wood construction. Three townhomes and 16 condominiums ranging from studios to two bedroom + den.
Price: from $200,000 to mid $300,000s.
Monthly Strata fees: estimated at $175 per month depending on size of unit.
Telephone: 250-590-3666
Developers: Mike Geric Construction Ltd.
General Contractor: Mike Geric Construction Ltd.
Architect: Eric Barker Architect Inc.
Occupancy: April 30, 2013


The company that’s best known for developing the upscale Broadmead and family-oriented Royal Oak neighbourhoods in B.C.’s capital region has launched its first project in the city of Victoria itself. Mike Geric Construction demolished three houses last week across from Mayfair Mall to make way for a 19-unit condo and townhouse complex on Speed Avenue.

Brizo 19 is also aimed at a different market than the relatively well-heeled residents of Broadmead and the middle-class families of Royal Oak. It’s targeting young, first-time homebuyers who want to be close to downtown, but not necessarily in it. Speed Avenue is a short dead-end street, not much longer than a cul-de-sac, and surrounded by busy streets with industrial and commercial properties.

Ed Geric, the president of Mike Geric Construction, says the area was a little neglected just a couple of years ago, but is now an up-and-coming neighbourhood. “Starbucks really cleaned up a lot of stuff there. When the brand-new Starbucks went in right next door and there was an office building there that just got redone and a condominium a couple years ago … and now with the rezoning and everything else, it’s changing quite a bit in that area.”

The rezoning to multi-family allows Geric and other developers to increase density. And for the first time, Geric will be building units smaller than 1,000 square feet; the 16 condos will range in size from roughly 500 square feet to 1,000 square feet, while the three townhomes will be well over 1,000 square feet. It’s a big change from the days when his father Mike, a builder from Winnipeg, moved to Victoria and slowly started buying lots and constructing single-family homes.

Broadmead Farm, once owned by the Guinness family – the same family that developed much of West Vancouver and built the Lion’s Gate Bridge under the name British Pacific Properties — was ready for development in the 1970s and Mike Geric was the first developer to buy tracts of land there and develop multiple houses at the same time.

“He loved the Broadmead area,” Ed Geric says. “We were the No. 1 single-family home builder in the Broadmead area.” When Ed joined the family business about 20 years ago, he started looking at multi-family developments and now has 10 or 15 under his belt. “I did Broadmead Terrace and that’s about 100 units, Heatherdale is 90 units, The Duval is 50 units, a new one coming up in Royal Oak called Travino Lane is 250 units ….”

Brizo 19 is small by comparison, so small Geric says he doesn’t need to pre-sell any of the units and won’t begin marketing them until framing is well underway, probably in November. The company’s website says: “We tasked ourselves to design a building that incorporated larger suite sizes, exceptional West Coast design and quality finishings — all at a cost that won’t send you running for the door. Some might say, that isn’t possible! We beg to differ.”

Asked how his company can accomplish this, Geric said, “Unlike most developers out there, we do everything ourselves. We rezone, we build it, we are our own general [contractor], we don’t, you know, hire other people. Most developers in Victoria don’t do any of the actual building, they sub-contract most of the trades and we’re able to save on a lot of those little layers of things.” However, Geric did hire an architect to design Brizo 19: Eric Barker, who designed a condominium development next door on Speed Avenue. Barker likes the street and describes it as “a really cool little enclave.”

Large and leafy plane trees line Speed Avenue, including one at the very end of the street where Brizo 19 will go up. Barker says he took special care with the design to ensure the tree is saved. He also designed the building to make the most of the unusual site, situating the complex so it faces out, with its back to the industrial area. The exteriors will have a contemporary look and feel with a mix of materials beginning with brick at the bottom, then wood siding and above that a product the building industry calls Hardi-panel.

The building’s irregular roof line means six units will have rooftop decks while the other 10 condos will have standard decks and the three townhouses ground-floor patios. “And we made sure the decks are large enough that people can enjoy them,” Barker says, “because it’s clear that’s important to the livability of suites.” As well as individual decks, the strata development will have a common 500-square-foot landscaped deck on its third level for all residents to enjoy. Barker says the condo next door attracted a mix of buyers, so it was important to provide a range of sizes and styles at Brizo 19.

“We wanted it to be a little bit different feel. I used the term funky, it’s something that has a bit of urban pizzazz. We have walk-in studio apartments, we have loft units, we have townhouses, we have suites where the bedroom actually overlooks the living room to look out windows beyond, so the bedroom actually is looking through a space to look outside, so it gives you another different feel. So people, when they walk in to view the units, they’ll say ‘oh wow.’ These are not your normal conventional units that you’ll see in the marketplace.”

Yet interiors will have what’s come to be conventional — and desirable: granite countertops, hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances. “If we’re going to spend more money,” Geric says, “ it’s on what I call the high-techy things like having iPod docking stations, properly wired Internet connections for cable and TV, what young people are really interested in.” Given the modest prices he hopes to sell the units for, providing underground parking was out of the question. However, Geric says all owners will have one parking spot and nearby Douglas Street is convenient for busing.

Special to The Sun

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