The remnants of the former Capital City Centre project have sat for years at Colwood Corners. New property owner Onni Group presented its initial vision for the site to Colwood council this week.

The remnants of the former Capital City Centre project have sat for years at Colwood Corners. New property owner Onni Group presented its initial vision for the site to Colwood council this week.

New life breathed into Colwood Corners project

Vancouver developer offers initial vision for former Capital City Centre project

The rebar and concrete languishing at Colwood Corners may soon be no more.

A newer, downsized look for the former Capital City Centre project on the corner of Sooke and Jerome roads was presented to Colwood council on Monday, with Vancouver company and property owner Onni Group offering up an entirely different vision for the busy corridor.

The site previously slated for a $1-billion project that included plans for multiple high-rises, trumpeted by the now-insolvent League Asset Corp., is being proposed to host three residential and three commercial buildings in a more modest development.

“It’s a vastly different project from what League Assets had envisioned,” said Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan. “But long-term, this has the potential to be a better project than what was originally (proposed). We will see what the final plans yield, but we are optimistic.”

Prepared drawings showed buildings scaled to approximately six storeys, a far cry from plans that included a 26-storey residential tower that would have been the tallest on Vancouver Island. League stopped work on the project in July 2013 when owners filed for creditor protection, paving the way for Onni to take ownership of the project in December of 2014.

“It’s a vital investment for the city. I think we have had a taste of what we can accomplish in terms of design and transformation,” Logan said. “I point to the Rexall building on the corner of Goldstream (Avenue) and Old Island Highway and how that has transformed that area. This development has the same opportunity from that perspective – we’re over the moon.”

Logan stressed that Onni has yet to bring an actual proposal to council and that the process of developing on the site is still in its infancy. However, the new vision features six buildings on a site covering more than 8.7 acres. It would include a total of 981 parking stalls, 276 at street level and the rest underground. Previous work on the site had completed a portion of the underground parking.

“Yesterday was more of an introduction to the city and council to say we are Onni, here we are,” Logan said. “They provided some renderings and preliminary plans; nothing set in stone.”

Onni Group has offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Chicago, Phoenix and Mexico.

Calls to the firm’s Vancouver office about progress on the project were not returned in time for Gazette deadlines.

Logan said from what he understands, the firm is looking to take a fairly aggressive approach to redeveloping the site, eschewing previous plans for a phased approach. The plans call for undertaking work on the majority of the project at once, potentially attracting a chain grocery store as an anchor tenant along with London Drugs and the RBC bank. League Assets’ original plan was to build out the project in phases over 15 to 20 years.

“I think council is absolutely thrilled that Onni has taken over the property and it shows some confidence in the city and our ability to move it forward,” Logan said. “The other reassuring thing for us is Onni has been around for a long time. (They are) a big player, so the likelihood of a similar scenario (to the past) is slim to none.”

alim@goldstreamgazette.com