The skyline along Fort Street will look a bit different in the future.
At a committee of the whole meeting Thursday, council advanced a rezoning application for the property at 930 Fort St., which would allow the construction of a 13-storey building.
The rezoning application, and another for a development permit with variances, were put forward by Sakura Developments. The company seeks to change the building restrictions at the property, which is currently being used as a parking lot with access off View Street.
With the approved rezoning, the building height restrictions would increase from 15.5 metres to 44.5 metres, equating a change from four storeys to 13, as well as reduce the minimum front setback from three metres to .6 metres.
The proposed mixed-use building would house 62 residential units and two ground-floor commercial units.
“I’m very happy with the size of the units,” said Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe, noting that a large number of the newer suites being built in Victoria are one-bedroom units that many can’t afford on their own. “If there’s two [bedrooms] people can put it together and afford it. I think having the larger units is the way to go.”
On every residential floor of the proposed building, there would be two two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites with a space of approximately 750 square feet.
Mayor Lisa Helps was also happy with the larger units, but noted she wanted more refinement on the design, alluding to matching other taller buildings that could appear in the future.
“In the future we want a street wall, and I don’t know yet how many storeys that is, but we want a street wall to give a stronger interface with Fort Street so it doesn’t just feel like a little building with a giant tower stacked on top of it.” said Helps.
She also wanted to be sure the building was a bike-lane oriented development because of its proximity to the Fort Street bike lanes.
The design calls for 80 secure bike storage spaces, and, because construction of the building would reduce the current number of parking stalls on Fort Street, the developer proposed to provide car share memberships for residents. City staff and committee members were happy with these mitigations.
Jonathan Tinney, director of sustainable planning and community development, questioned some aspects of the design. Not only did he find the building’s podium not tall enough and the tower setbacks too small, he indicated that the tower’s uniform appearance and facade materials were too industrial-looking for the area.
In moving the rezoning application forward to council for first and second readings – it would ultimately require a public hearing – the committee approved Tinney’s request to have Sakura work with City staff to revise the design before it is presented to council for final consideration of the development permit.
“I’m happy to move this forward and hope it comes back to us as quickly as possible,” said Helps.