Wesbild’s plans to redevelop the University Heights Shopping Centre lands may be in jeopardy over anchor retail tenant Home Depot’s requests for a major expansion and cash compensation in exchange for allowing construction to occur on a portion of the site. (Photo courtesy Wesbild Holdings Ltd.)

All work stops on Saanich’s University Heights project while developer negotiates with Home Depot

Financial implications of retailer’s requests put $230-million mixed-use project in jeopardy

One of the largest mixed-use projects in Saanich history has been halted indefinitely over an impasse between the developer and its anchor tenant at the University Heights Shopping Centre.

Wesbild president and CEO Kevin Layden, whose company has spent more than three years planning a $230-million residential and commercial redevelopment of the shopping centre lands at Shelbourne Street and McKenzie Avenue, confirmed Wednesday that expansion and financial demands from The Home Depot have led to work on the project being put “on pause.”

Both sides acknowledge that The Home Depot’s existing lease prevents construction of buildings on a portion of the site. In exchange for allowing that to happen, the developer says, The Home Depot tendered an offer asking for a 10,000-square-foot expansion, plus $5 million in compensation and other concessions. The store has 14 years remaining on its current lease.

RELATED STORY: Saanich’s University Heights redevelopment may see changes before public hearing

While Layden was still holding out hope for a negotiated compromise, he said the scale of The Home Depot’s offer “affects the viability of the project.”

“We are disappointed, and we know the people of Saanich and Greater Victoria will be disappointed,” Layden said in a statement. “We do not take this action lightly. But we cannot move forward with unreasonable requests. This project will address the region’s top priorities including affordability, rental accommodation and the dire need for additional daycare spaces.”

The redevelopment calls for 598 permanent rental homes, 60 affordable rental suites, an up to 11,000-square foot daycare, cycling infrastructure, a public plaza, community spaces, B.C. Transit hub, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and modern commercial spaces.

The project has not yet gone to public hearing but has received first and second readings by Saanich council. Construction was anticipated to begin in the spring of 2021 with occupancy in 2024.

Alyssa Haw, PR and communications manager for The Home Depot Canada, said the company does not typically discuss ongoing negotiations, but noted the company “has been in good faith discussions with the developer since 2017 regarding this development.”

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes did not sound optimistic, calling the stalemate a “very, very unfortunate situation.”

RELATED STORY: University Heights redevelopment plan includes 600 rental units, dog park

The Home Depot’s offer, when it was made, “came as a complete surprise to everyone,” he said, adding that it proves the company is “playing hardball.”

Wesbild is asking all of its Victoria planning and construction teams to pause all development activities for the project. The District of Saanich has reassigned staff attached full-time to this major project to other duties.

Layden stated that the community has worked hard together to help shape the project.

“For many years, the people of Saanich have been generous with their time and care in helping create a sustainable project that addresses the needs of the community. It is our sincere hope that this valuable project can continue.” he said.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email:don.descoteau@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.  
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

developmentDistrict of Saanich

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alyssa Gerwing, executive director of the Sidney Museum and Archives, gets into the Halloween spirit with a lit-up jack-o-lantern. With Treat Street cancelled, the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society has organized a series of other events and activities under the heading of Halloween Spooktacular. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)
Sidney serves up ghoulish spills and thrills during Halloween

A virtual Halloween treasure hunt and scary drive-in movies among tricks and treats

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

The Capital Regional District is considering adding another dollar a year to the parkland acquisition fund fee for homeowners. (Black Press Media file photo)
One dollar or two? Greater Victoria parks acquisition fee hike spurs debate

$2 a year too steep, CRD committee recommends $1 a year increase per household

Samantha Lenz, resort manager for Oceanside RV Resort, says she continues to turn people away, who are looking for a permanent spot to winter on the Saanich Peninsula. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tourism operators hope Canadian Snowbirds flock to B.C.

Provincial tourism industry hopes to compensate ‘monumental financial losses and hardship’

Patrol officers from VicPD’s Esquimalt division responded to a call about hateful graffiti in Macaulay Park Wednesday evening. (Black Press Media file photo)
Anti-Semitic, hate-based graffiti found in Esquimalt park

Police seek suspects after fresh hate-based graffiti found Wednesday evening

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Pilot Kevin Maher participated in a flyover of a ceremony at the Cobble Hill cenotaph on Oct. 22 in a 1940 North American (Noorduyn) Harvard aircraft. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cobble Hill remembers lost military members with ceremony, flyover

Annual event commemorates those who died in non-combat roles

Adam Ireton holds his son Weston, along with Kristen and Beckett as they celebrate Weston's last day of treatment for lukemia. (Kristen Ireton photo)
799 days: ‘Super’ Weston defeats cancer

‘Weston is disease-free now, so we will be going into a period of checkups and things until he’s 18’

Most Read