Nvision properties has submitted an application for a six-storey, 78-unit rental development to replace the vacant lot, a former gas station site, at McKenzie and Shelbourne (3949 Shelbourne). Nvision rendering

78-unit rental proposed for vacant lot at Shelbourne and McKenzie

Redefinition of Shelbourne and McKenzie continues with 78-unit rental proposal

Development could be just around the corner for the former Shell station site on Shelbourne at McKenzie.

Local development firm Nvision Properties has submitted a multi-million-dollar development proposal to the District of Saanich to build a six-storey, 78-unit rental building at 3949 Shelbourne St. with two ground-floor commercial spaces that are 1,200 square feet each.

It’s the latest proposal as Shelbourne and McKenzie, a major commercial cornerstone of Saanich, continues its redefinition towards urban densification. Wesbild developments announced in 2017 a massive mixed-use residential and commercial proposal with 350 rental suites on about 185,000 square feet of commercial to replace most of University Heights.

Nvision Properties, the sister company to Abstract Developments, is taking an aggressive approach to bring purpose-built rentals to Greater Victoria. It will include mixed-use commercial, mostly on the ground level, when available. The aim of Nvision is to match Abstract one-to-one in terms of developments, said Nvision development manager Adam Cooper.

“For every market [condo] Abstract builds, Nvision will build a rental.”

As a former gas station site, 3949 Shelbourne is the latest in Greater Victoria to complete the environmental remediation process, as Nvision was issued a certificate of compliance from the province just last month, Cooper said.

With its location a 20-minute walk from the University of Victoria, the building is targeted towards a younger demographic, which ties into its most notable feature, that it will have just 20 parking spots available.

“Because of its status as a former gas station, it restricts us from any underground parking,” Cooper said. “People generally have the anticipation of one parking spot per condo. In a rental unit that can be relaxed, and in this case it’s 20 spots.”

The building falls at the core of the new Shelbourne Valley Action Plan which designates a six-storey development to encourage urban density.

It’s marketed towards UVic students and young professionals who are happy to live car-free and desire an amenity-rich neighbourhood. The majority of the 78 proposed suites are bachelor studios, with 10 two-bedroom suites.

Cooper a former transportation planner from the University of B.C., said the 20-minute walk time from 3949 Shelbourne Ave. to UVic is actually the standard walk time from a residence in UBC to the buildings there.

“[Because of the underground restriction] we had to reconcile the two ideas: council’s direction of the site, calling for six story, and also the constraint of parking,” Cooper said.

Nvision believes there’s no risk of neighbourhood impact from parking overflow.

“The studios are sub 400-square-feet and are designed for people who are looking for accommodations coming out of student housing or more affordable option for living, such as young professionals, people in the service industry, and people looking to use the major route of McKenzie,” he said.

They’ve held four community consultation meetings, two open houses and meetings with Mount Tolmie Community Association and two with Gordon Head Residents Association.

Nvision is currently considering having the building constructed in a prefab modular format.

“The apartments would be constructed in a factory, arrive on a truck, be stacked like Lego bricks, all of which will cut down on the neighbourhood impact and cut out six months with of the on-site construction,” Cooper said.

Nvision is currently building a 95-unit residential rental building at 433 Boleskine Rd., with commercial space, likely to be ready for spring 2019.

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