‘Vancouver-esque’ 989 climbs downtown skyline

New, modern condo tower adds “Vancouver-esque” feel to Harris Green area

The Harris Green strip continues to grow as Cox Development’s $75-million, two-tower condo development climbs the skyline at 989 Johnson St., hoping to shake the design restrictions set by the city.

Construction on the 17-storey tower is well underway, and a second 15-storey tower will soon take the place of the gaping hole in McCall’s former parking lot.

The development will tower over the fast densifying street, but the walls of glass would seem to lighten the look of what would be dominating towers, warmed with touches of wood and decorative textures.

Jim Aalders of HDR I CEI Architecture Associates, Inc., is the head architect on the project. For the design, he said, he aimed to be responsive to the style of the neighbouring buildings.

“We picked up a lot of angles and forms that are in the chapel,” he said, referring to the sloping roofs, and the six-storey podium.

The structure is nearly 75 per cent glass, including cedar soffits on the underside of the canopy, and “frit patterns” added to give a ceramic texture and privacy for tenants. Two heavy timber beams drop from the top penthouse, and two more give both warmth and support to the lobby.

But there’s no escaping the fact that this is a huge, urban building, using a modern style that differs from much of Victoria’s infrastructure, something the architect embraces.

“It’s going to be a very unique tower design for downtown Victoria,” he said. “This is really an attempt to create something that’s a little more urban and Vancouver-esque.”

B.C.-based Cox Developments is building the project. Dan Cox said he’s excited to be developing in this growing area downtown.

“It’s really coming alive,” he said of the Harris Green strip along Pandora Ave. “Two, three, four, five years from now, this is where everything is happening.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in May 2019, and will include a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom and penthouse units, and commercial space on the ground floor. One and two bedrooms are still available.

Cox said buyers are from all demographics: investors, first-time homebuyers, downsizers, retirees, locals, and people from Vancouver and Alberta.

“I think the rest of Canada is finally seeing Victoria for what it is: Victoria is not the sleepy city it was,” he says.

“We’re seeing a huge movement of people who want to be downtown … the city of Victoria has been wanting to do this for years, and it’s finally coming to fruition.”

Along with the condos, the developers are also currently working on a 13-storey building with bachelor, one, two and three-bedroom units to be completed in November at 1075 Pandora St. Rents runs from $1,100 for a bachelor, and go up to $3,000.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

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