Lloyd Wansbrough with Westridge Landing in Colwood says combining residential with commercial space in a building makes sense for both residents and developers.

HOMEFINDER: Residential and commercial space mix well

Trend continues of placing ground-floor retail/commercial below residences

Residents and visitors to the West Shore have seen many new residential buildings constructed in the last number of years, and more continue to go up.

Something many of those complexes have in common is their combination of residential and commercial space.

Established large condominium developments such as Goldstream Station and others on Goldstream Avenue, Waterstone at Sooke and Jacklin roads, and others around the West Shore – spurred along by welcoming local governments – have created neighbourhood hubs by putting retail/commercial at the ground level and residential above.

That idea continues to serve at least two functions, according to Lloyd Wansbrough of Westridge Landing in Colwood. It not only provides revenue for the developer, it creates amenities for tenants and owners in the units above ground.

“The most valuable space for commercial is ground level,” he says. “It just makes sense not to put residential on the grade level and rather put it higher up; that’s where all the views are.”

Westridge Landing, a rental apartment building that opened earlier this year, features commercial space throughout its ground floor. Wansbrough says negotiations are underway for most of the spaces, while the Orca Grillhouse, a family restaurant, is already in the process of developing its space facing Wale Road.

He notes that the two types of occupants are a bit like “oil and water,” given their different requirements, but they can co-exist if chosen thoughtfully.

“We’ve been somewhat careful who we put into the commercial mix,” he says. “We’re staying away from a pub – you can get issues with noise and it really affects the residential component of the site.”

Commercial space can create good long-term revenue for developers who stick around, in the case of a condo building, but also in the case of rental properties, which make up the lion’s share of current developments.

“Commercial (tenants) don’t like to move,” Wansbrough says, “they want to find a space that works on all fronts: parking wise, financial wise. They need to have the traffic and the exposure. Residents can be more accepting of being on a certain floor or having a certain view.”

Over at Eagle Pacific Development’s The Vantage townhome complex on Watkiss Way in View Royal, the 10-home phase 2 is all but sold out. Developer/builder Martin Schenk included four commercial units in that part of the development, one of which is becoming a draw for residents of the townhomes as well as users of the Galloping Goose Trail just steps away.

The Nest Cafe, fast becoming known for its fresh baked goods created on the premises, is run by Schenk’s eldest daughters, Katie Tilden and Jenny Schenck, while two younger school-aged daughters have worked there this summer.

“As we started the second phase … that’s when we were watching the Galloping Goose Trail and thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a family friendly place that was cyclist friendly, where people could stop in for a snack or a treat, a place that was dog friendly,” he recalls of The Nest’s beginnings. “Today, people appreciate it. It’s a real laid-back atmosphere.”

While that aspect of this project has produced a pleasant benefit for his family, Schenk says placing commercial and residential properties together is, in general, a great way of creating community.

“It is a good fit. I think it’s a good way to go; it’s the trend to have more density and that new (mix of property types). It’s ideal, because you’ve got more of the local people in the neighbourhood walking into the commercial spaces.”

While large-scale mixing of commercial and residential elements hasn’t always been successful – see Capital City Centre – Omicron’s Eagle Creek Village across from Victoria General Hospital in View Royal is moving ahead full steam.

The company’s plan calls for 100 owned residential units and 60 rental suites on the property, all of which will have commercial on the ground floor and other retail shops and services within steps of their main entrance.

Wansbrough says the idea of creating residences where people can walk to access services rather than drive is the way to go.

“People are recognizing the cost of gas keep going up, so if they can walk to get their groceries, that’s critical, or if they can walk to recreational facilities, or walk to some natural event, that’s important to people.”


Q: What are some of the benefits of  mixed-use developments?

Mixed-use development buildings have proven to be a positive net benefit in many communities, not only for the people in the immediate vicinity but for neighbouring areas.

The combination of residential units with commercial, office, entertainment, child care or other government services have helped promote healthy living, keeping local residents walking to and from destinations and even helping facilitate live-work situations that help discourage the need for motor vehicles.

For businesses this ground floor real estate is preferred but residents tend to opt for the higher levels, making it mutually beneficial for both.

The potential for compact, efficient land use also offers residents an excellent opportunity to stay within their community saving time for people living busy lives and helping reduce traffic congestion within the community and the reduction of energy consumption for the environment.

These developments are also usually supported by local governments trying to encourage local business and development. They often turn into neighbourhood hubs.



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