The construction period for a massive new commercial and residential development in place of Cordova Bay Plaza is welcomed, but the disruption to business will be hard on the tenants.
The designs for the development to replace the aging plaza are expected to be submitted to Saanich Planning this week. Architect Alan Lowe is leading the redevelopment with local developer James Gardiner. The 1960s era Cordova Bay Plaza will be razed and in its place a pedestrian linear plaza will be constructed along Cordova Bay Road, Lowe said. It will include about 80 residential suites, a new 17,000 square-foot grocery store space, and up to 18,000 square-feet of retail space for the rest of the mall. A one-storey underground parking lot will bring the total number of stalls to 300.
The development team held a public consultation at the site in September, though the site is already zoned for four storeys and will need only staff’s approval, not council’s.
“We still wanted to meet with the community and overall it went well,” Lowe said. “About 400 people went through.”
In Lowe’s estimation, about half of the locals he talked to are delighted. Others liked parts of the proposal, while some thought the buildings were too high. However, height is not a factor as the plans are within the zoning and fit the local area plan.
Owner-manager Phil Greenhalgh of Tru Value Foods is impressed with the renderings for the new development but is unsure what the effect will be if Tru Value has to shut its doors for an extended period of time.
“It will be a beautiful spot, look visually nice, and having the condos, amenities and a grocery store there will be great for the community,” he said.
Tru Value and Scotiabank are the major tenants and have been invited to return, though at this point it is likely they’ll have to shut down operations, or relocate, for an undetermined amount of time. The popular Mason Jar cafe recently closed, though that’s not believed to be related. Calico Cupboard fabric store, the Dollar Store and a fairly new pet store are the other tenants.
Initially the hope was the new construction could start before the mall was razed, permitting Tru Value and others to remain open. But upon further review, the whole mall will be demolished, Greenhalgh said.
“It’s challenging news but we’ll work with them and see what the future brings.”
Lowe has worked with Saanich Planning many times before and believes his proposal already meets most of what they’ll expect.
“We anticipate it will be a smooth process, probably about six months for approvals.”
At that rate, the construction would start on the underground parking lot next summer.