Overhead rendering (centre corridor) of a three-building residential development project at 1224 Richardson that was approved Thursday by Victoria council. (Courtesy City of Victoria)

Overhead rendering (centre corridor) of a three-building residential development project at 1224 Richardson that was approved Thursday by Victoria council. (Courtesy City of Victoria)

‘Gentle densification’ of large city lot convinces Victoria council to approve development

Three-building project on Richardson Street includes four units at below market value

A multi-unit Fairfield residential development proposal characterized as offering “gentle densification” was approved by Victoria council Jan. 28 after a public hearing.

A rectangular property at 1224 Richardson St., roughly triple the size of a regular city lot will eventually be the site of 24 homes in three three-level structures.

The proposal gained broad support from council, who appreciated the approach to infill housing using building design sympathetic to the surrounding properties, as well as the inclusion of four designated units to be sold at 10 per cent below market value.

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Coun. Marianne Alto called the project a “sound precedent for future developments.”

“It’s a good example of a way we can look at very gentle densification, close to the downtown core,” she said.

The development group has an agreement with the Capital Region Housing Corporation to handle appraisals and sales of the below-market units in perpetuity. Purchasers must be first-time home buyers, have lived in Greater Victoria a year or more and have maximum household annual incomes of $85,000 for the one-bedroom units, and $95,000 for the two-bedroom.

While those incomes thresholds are too high to meet the city’s definition of affordable home ownership, staff reported, the partnership with a government agency to administer the four suites was consistent with the city’s housing strategy.

The biggest concern about the project from the public and some councillors was the fact it calls for just 10 parking stalls for 24 units; six for residents, one for a dedicated car share vehicle and three for visitors. During council deliberations, co-proponent Tim Stemp said the properties are being marketed to people without need or desire for a vehicle.

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Coun. Geoff Young, who opposed the project, said he was concerned that access to the building at the rear of the lot was via a pathway, noting the urge will be great to park moving or delivery vehicles closer. While the increase in density on the lot was acceptable, he added, the configuration of buildings on the lot is “awkward” and could lead to access-related problems.

Measures taken to promote a car-free lifestyle and reduce impact on traffic and parking in the area included a dedicated car share vehicle and parking spot, one car share membership per unit with a $100 starting credit, two oversized bicycle parking stalls and a bicycle repair station.


 

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Street view rendering (right side) of the front of a three-building residential development project at 1224 Richardson that was approved Thursday by Victoria council. (Courtesy City of Victoria)

Street view rendering (right side) of the front of a three-building residential development project at 1224 Richardson that was approved Thursday by Victoria council. (Courtesy City of Victoria)