6-storey redevelopment in Victoria would add 92 net new rentals to apartment site

Rendering of a 137-unit rental building proposed for the corner of the Menzies and Niagara streets in James Bay. (Photo courtesy of Primex Investments/Continuum Architecture)Rendering of a 137-unit rental building proposed for the corner of the Menzies and Niagara streets in James Bay. (Photo courtesy of Primex Investments/Continuum Architecture)
Rendering shows the courtyard of a 137-unit rental building proposed for the corner of the Menzies and Niagara streets in James Bay. (Photo courtesy of Primex Investments/Continuum Architecture)Rendering shows the courtyard of a 137-unit rental building proposed for the corner of the Menzies and Niagara streets in James Bay. (Photo courtesy of Primex Investments/Continuum Architecture)
Rendering of a 137-unit rental building proposed for the corner of the Menzies and Niagara streets in James Bay. (Photo courtesy of Primex Investments/Continuum Architecture)Rendering of a 137-unit rental building proposed for the corner of the Menzies and Niagara streets in James Bay. (Photo courtesy of Primex Investments/Continuum Architecture)

Some of James Bay’s Village Green Apartment buildings could be replaced by a six-storey, 137-unit rental redevelopment, but the public will have its say first.

While Primex Investments hopes to bring 92 net new rental spaces to the corner of the Menzies and Niagara streets, it has been working with the tenants of 45 existing units that would be redeveloped.

As of late February, two-thirds of those residents had already moved. To date, the developer has paid out just under $92,000 to 19 residents eligible for Victoria’s Tenant Assistance Program (TAP).

Primex said in a letter to council that 15 residents remain at the site, but eight will be leaving by end of March and 14, who are eligible for TAP, are expected to receive more than $7,000 each. The one resident who doesn’t qualify for TAP has been offered assistance to find housing by a relocation specialist, the letter said.

Primex is also allocating up to $30,000 – beyond the TAP payments – for 15 residents identified as needing additional assistance.

While council on March 10 approved the development going to a public hearing, much of their discussion centered around the potentially impacted tenants. That led to council passing a motion, brought forward by Coun. Jeremy Loveday, to have staff continue talks with Primex around giving current tenants the right to return at their present rent.

“I think the new housing that is being built is very necessary and will be helpful in addressing housing need for many in our community. That said, the level of rent that families are currently paying in this location can only be replaced by the investment of social housing unless they are allowed to return in the new unit at their same rent,” Loveday said.

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That approved motion was amended twice to allow provincially-authorized rent increases over the construction period and to limit its scope to the tenants who required additional assistance. Couns. Loveday, Sarah Potts and Ben Isitt opposed this latter amendment.

Coun. Geoff Young was the lone dissenter of Loveday’s motion, saying it would work against new housing. “It is inequitable for landlords who have kept their rents low,” he said.

No public hearing date has been set for the project. Of the 137 units, the market-rental proposal includes 89 one-bedrooms, with 26 of those having dens and 12 being smaller spaces. It would also have 33 two-bedroom units, 14 three-bedrooms and one studio. A housing agreement will secure the site for rental housing for the life of the building.

An underground parkade would hold 95 vehicle stalls, 10 visitor spaces and two carshare spots – each unit receives a membership for use of the two shared vehicles. A traffic study submitted to the city said parking demand will be met by the on-site spaces and the development won’t have a noticeable impact on local traffic. The proposed bike parking would go beyond city requirements.

The plan calls for a net increase of 58 trees at the site, but 23 existing ones would be cut down during construction.

The proposed six storeys exceeds the James Bay Neighbourhood Plan’s limit of four, but city staff said the two additional storeys have been designed in a way that would fit the location.

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