May 12, 2012

Capital City Centre Transforming Colwood

With green rooftops and an environmentally friendly design, livability is at the forefront

Capital City Centre

Location: Victoria’s west shore, in the municipality of Colwood
Project size/scope: A $1-billion, 13.89 acre-mixed use community consisting of 12 residential towers ranging from 16 to 29 storeys; four-storey wood-frame buildings above retail units; two-storey townhomes; multi-storey office buildings, and a public plaza that will feature retail and restaurant facilities.
Prices in the first residential building: Starting in the low to mid $200,000s
Monthly Strata fees: Yet to be determined
Contact: Casey White, marketing and sales coordinator
Telephone: 1-855-299-6189
Developers: LEAGUE Financial Partners
Builder: Farmer Construction Ltd.
Architect: Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership
Interiors: Kimberly Williams Interiors
Occupancy: Spring 2014


It will be the largest development on Vancouver Island, and have the tallest buildings on the island. According to the developer, it’s also one of Canada’s largest urban projects on a contiguous site. Along with the size superlatives, Capital City Centre could transform Colwood – one of the Victoria area’s more affordable neighbourhoods, with a younger demographic – into one of its most livable.

The Capital City Centre is an ambitious, $1-billion mixed-use development that will replace a couple of unattractive strip malls and some tired, old houses on about 14-acres on Victoria’s west shore. “Our vision is that Capital City Centre will be an urban village that encourages residents to be outdoors and to take part in the community’s vibrant lifestyle,” says Adam Gant, the chief executive officer of LEAGUE Financial Partners, the company behind the development.

Colwood is rich in amenities, with two golf courses, a large recreation centre (the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre is considered one of the most complete sport complexes in B.C.), Hatley Park Historic Site and Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Alongside the new development is the 60-kilometre-long Galloping Goose Trail, popular among walkers and cyclists, and next door is Royal Roads University, which has more trails meandering through its 277 partly forested hectares.

But while the community has lots to offer, it’s also known for what locals call the “Colwood Crawl”, those traffic jams that occur when everyone’s trying to get in or out of Victoria at the same time. Municipal politicians and transit planners have been trying to figure out an affordable fix for years. As well as building a connection to the “Goose”, LEAGUE is widening the road in front of the development to accommodate HOV and bike lanes. There is also the possibility of a future rapid transit system, and while Capital City Centre is located on an approved alignment for such a system, nothing has been decided so far.

That hasn’t discouraged LEAGUE Financial Partners from moving ahead with the massive project. “We have taken the time necessary to responsibly develop this project and will continue to do so throughout the phases” says Gant, noting that planning has been underway since 2006. Aside from being the biggest development on the island, what’s Capital City Centre going to look like? Lead architect Jacques Beaudreault of Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership – among the designers of the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre – says it will look and feel like a town centre, something that Colwood has never had.

“Because this has multiple buildings, we took great effort to differentiate each of the buildings so that it’s as if you’re walking down a street in urban areas … so we have different height buildings, we have different materials, we have different character. So the whole purpose of this is that there’s variety.” The $250-million first phase of Capital City Centre – to be developed over five years – will include two 26-storey residential towers sitting on top of ground-floor retail space, a couple four-storey residential buildings, a seven-storey office building and numerous retail buildings.

A public plaza – the heart of the centre – is also in Phase 1, with fountains, seating, mood lighting, restaurants and space to host such events as farmers’ markets, arts and crafts shows and live entertainment. “It’s an attractive space to be in,” says Beaudreault. “People will want to be there.” The architect predicts the residential towers will also be popular, partly because of the expansive views. Most buildings in Colwood now are no higher than two storeys. “Oh yea, there’ll be ocean views, there’ll be mountain views as well,” says Beaudreault. “When you build a 27-storey highrise, there are lots of views.”

The development will also have “green” features – both literally and figuratively. Three of the buildings will have rooftops seeded with grasses so people looking down from their highrise homes won’t see blacktop. LEAGUE is also exploring an energy system that would transfer unwanted heat from retail space to residential space. The project will extend over 20 years. When complete, it will house about 4,000 people in 2,200 strata units divided among 12 highrise towers, two mid-rise buildings and a yet-to-be-determined number of two-storey townhouses.

Last fall, the developer met its presale requirement in its first condominium building – a four-storey wood frame building – and plans to put the remaining units on the market closer to completion, about two years from now.

Special to The Sun

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