Uptown is launching the final stage of its multi-stage development with a combination of residential and retail space.
Perhaps surprisingly, Morguard Investments, which oversees Uptown, has elected to built 134 rental suites, a departure from the original vision for Uptown which included two towers of condominiums.
However, with a change in the market, Morguard is ready to build and manage the rental suites, said Geoff Nagle, director of development for Morguard.
“We’re very excited to be moving into the formal approvals process for the final phase of the mixed-use neighbourhood that is Uptown,” Nagle said.
“There’s a strong appetite for rental housing and a local need for rental housing,” he said, “…this will help to meet the local need for more rental homes.”
Rental suites will range in size from studio to two-bedroom homes.
Uptown has submitted a proposed 11-storey building to the District of Saanich that will include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites, seven ground-floor townhomes and 55,000 square feet of retail space. The building will complete the northwest end of Uptown Boulevard at the corner of Carey Road and Ravine Way, next to the 40,000 square-foot Whole Foods store and 4,000 square-foot multi-tenant building currently under construction and scheduled to open in fall 2016.
Nagle said Saanich council is expected to receive the proposal for rezoning consideration sometime in early 2016. The current building design features exterior suite entrances, large rooftop spaces for the use of residents, and dedicated, secure bicycle and automobile parking.
Originally, Morguard was going to partner with a developer for a pair of 36-storey residential towers with up to 600 units.
But those were different market conditions and different days, Nagle said.
“We began the redevelopment of this property in 2008 and so much has changed in the neighbourhoods in and around Uptown since that time,” Nagle said.
The majority of the rental units will be one bedroom. All seven townhomes will be ground level with street access from Carey Road or Ravine Way, and parking lot access from the interior.
Rent will be at the higher end of the market, with a premium of about $2 per square-foot on each unit.
“We’re seeing people willing to pay enough in rent to justify using high-value land for residential rent,” Nagle said. “There’s no question that means they’ll be at the high end of the rental market, but the good news is it adds additional stock to the rental market in the long run.”
Uptown’s first commercial tenants have been there since 2010. It finished phase two of the project in 2012. Upon completion, Uptown will include more than one million square-feet of open-air shopping, office space, rental residential, restaurants and community amenities, all built to LEED Gold Neighbourhood Development standards.
Expect construction to begin in the fall of 2016 with a goal to have the units move-in ready for early 2018.