Named Radius at Royal Oak, this six-storey wood-framed residential development on West Saanich Road speaks to the recent, even rapid expansion of rental housing. The development caters to the upscale rental market. Wolf Depner/News Staff

Upscale Royal Oak development raises rental stock in Saanich

From a distance, the Radius at Royal Oak looks like countless other residential complexes currently under construction in the Greater Victoria region.

But as the six-storey building approaches completion in March 2019, it promises to redefine both the engineering and economics of residential construction.

“This is a special building, for sure,” said Travis Lee of Tri-Eagle Plaza, which is building the development in co-operation with Jawl Residential.

The development is special in so far that it is wood-framed. The provincial government in 2009 changed the building code to permit wood-framed buildings of up to six storeys – up from four. According to Lee, it is one of two six-storey wood-framed rental buildings in Saanich, with the other near Tillicum Centre.

“Building a six-storey wood frame is becoming the new normal,” said Lee.

The building also underscores the changing dynamics in the real estate market. Initial plans for the site called for an office building. Plans then called for a condominium development. But the growing need for rental housing changed plans once again at the last minute, said Lee. As such, the building speaks to the recent, even rapid expansion of rental properties.

But several elements, however, distinguish the Radius from other rental buildings. They include nine-foot ceilings on the inside and more elaborate finishing on the outside. Finally, it is bigger than most rental buildings, he said.

As such, it aims for the higher-end rental market with two groups in mind: seniors, who sold their previous homes but want to stay in the area, and young professionals, who do not have the means to purchase their own homes but are nonetheless looking for a quality place with access to amenities such as those that Royal Oak shopping centre offers.

Located next to BC Hydro’s post-disaster operations centre on West Saanich Road, the development also offers access to public transit and the Centennial Trail linking Lochside Regional Trail with the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.

The pending completion of the project will complete the Tri Eagle Plaza, a complex that includes the existing commercial building named Raven and two residential buildings named Orca and Centennial Walk.

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