The west-facing facade of Whole Foods was not designed as frontage. As of 2018 the Uptown lot facing Carey Road remains vacant. Travis Paterson/News Staff

The west-facing facade of Whole Foods was not designed as frontage. As of 2018 the Uptown lot facing Carey Road remains vacant. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Fate of Saanich’s tallest building up in the air

New managers will re-evaluate 11-storey residential, commercial building at Uptown

Nearly two-thirds of the way through 2018, there is still no progress on the 11-storey residential and commercial tower at Uptown shopping centre.

At one point, Uptown’s previous property manager, Morguard Investments, hoped to have the 134-suite rental tower known as the Phase 4 development move-in ready for 2018. Saanich council had unanimously approved the application in October 2016.

But rather than start the construction, owners Greystone Managed Investments replaced Morguard as operators of Uptown with Shape Properties, a move that officially took effect on Nov. 1, 2017. (Greystone did not respond as to why this move took place.) Shape adopted the former management team, retaining the same staff who oversee Uptown. It also began its own review of the local residential rental, commercial office and retail leasing perspective, said Shape’s executive vice-president of development and acquisitions, Darren Kwiatkowski.

See also: Taming the region’s busiest hub, the Uptown-Douglas corridor

Phase 4 will certainly have homes but it’s also the final corner of Uptown, and it’s frontage on Carey Road, just off Douglas, will soon be across from the coming BC Transit hub for the region.

“It’s our observation and conclusion that the Phase 4 corner is a very strategic piece,” Kwiatkowski said. “It completes the street, but is also a gateway to the property. It’s key frontage across from a future major transit centre, and we want to do it right. It’s a chance to put an exclamation mark on that project in the best manner.”

Kwiatkowski talked about place-making, as the phase will extend Uptown boulevard and finish it as a street.

Homes are still part of the plan for Uptown’s final phase. First it is running an analysis of the Saanich and Victoria markets and the development options that will best fit with the long-term vision for the project, community and region, he said.

Shape hopes to report the findings of their market evaluation to Greystone this fall.

The original proposal has large commercial space on the ground, with residential above, including some suites made available for affordable housing.

Revisions to the design are likely but for now it’s figuring out what the process will be like, as any alterations to the design mean re-applying to Saanich Planning and could end up back before Saanich council.

“While we all want to see things move quickly, it’s important for the city and community,” Kwiatkowski said. “Obviously we have a development permit so that we could move very quickly on building.

“We’ll have those discussions with city and planning officials. If we decide it’s advantageous to make tweaks, the public will have an opportunity to see the changes proposed.”

reporter@saanichnews.com

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An original rendering of the Phase 4 residential and commercial building at Uptown. Shape, the property management company that oversees Uptown, is re-evaluating the building and may consider a redesign, which would need possibly go back to council. File rendering

An original rendering of the Phase 4 residential and commercial building at Uptown. Shape, the property management company that oversees Uptown, is re-evaluating the building and may consider a redesign, which would need possibly go back to council. File rendering

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