Time capsule awaits Langford developers

When and if the blue house at 899 Goldstream Ave. is torn down, it will be a bittersweet moment for 73-year-old Al Jacobson.

The property at the corner of Goldstream Avenue and Jacklin Road has passed third reading for rezoning to allow a six-story residential and commercial building.

Jacobson said within the foundation of the house, at the bottom of a five foot wall, is a metal Rogers Golden syrup tin acting as a time capsule.

When the new development breaks ground, Jacobson would like to get the tin back. He was 10 years old at the time it was entombed, but guesses that it holds newspaper clippings from the time, photographs of Langford and other items that could be historical curiosities.

“I can only guess to the contents,” Jacobson said. “I’m curious myself. I does exist and the contents would be nice surprise if we get to open it up.”

Jacobson’s father built the existing house in 1947, the first of 25 homes he built in downtown Langford nearly 65 years ago. The road next to Langford city hall bears his surname.

Jacobson, who now lives in Saanichton, said it’s the only time capsule his father, Olaf, created after developing homes one by one on 10 acres. Most of the properties have since been sold and redeveloped, leaving that Goldstream Avenue house “as the sole survivor,” he said.

“That was the only house that seemed to be significant,” Jacobson said. “It was (my father’s) first house.”

Developers plan ‘signature building’

Limona Holdings plans to squeeze a 28-unit condominium and with ground level commercial in the small, 818 square metre lot at 899 Goldstream Ave. The developers admit it’s a tough location, although a prime location.

“It’s a tough site to develop. There’s not a lot of room to build” said Mark Johnson, with Limona, the developer and property owner. “But the site is a key site in anchoring the downtown core. We think we have a signature building for a signature site.”

The development plans have come up short on ground-level parking stalls and architect Eric Barker has designed in a car elevator to allow second floor residential parking, thought to be the first car elevator on Vancouver Island.

Langford calculated the project is short eight ground level parking stalls based on the area commercial space and is charging Limona $48,000, or $6,000 per space, for the rezoning to go through.

Johnson said there is no timeline yet on breaking ground and the project is depends on the strength of the real estate market. Michael Baier, co-owner of Limona Holdings, said he is eager to get the six-storey building off the ground.

“Langford wants it cleaned up and we want it cleaned up,” Baier said. “It’s a key corner in Langford. We’ve been trying to do something there for the last seven years.”

Baier said Limona has unsuccessfully tried to buy adjacent properties to increase the lot size. The property itself has been whittled down due to road widening.

The blue house on the property is the office for Limona Construction, and over the years has held a political campaign headquarters, a used toy store, a pawn shop and a “hoagie hut.”

“It’s been so many things for so long,” remarked Langford Coun. Winnie Sifert. “I think its a wonderful building for the site.”