The Vancouver Island School of Art (VISA) officially has a new home after the City of Victoria approved a new development in Quadra Village.
Ross Terrace, a development by ARYZE Developments and The Purdey Group at 2566, 2570, 2580 Fifth St., will house two four-storey buildings containing 64 rental units and a new 6,000 sq. ft. campus for VISA.
VISA was evicted out of its long-term home at 2549 Quadra St. in 2018, and has temporarily been renting space at the former Blanshard Elementary School building at 950 Kings Rd.
ARYZE had already purchased the land for Ross Terrace, and had initial designs in hand when it heard that VISA was in search of a new space and put its plans on hold.
“We had three side-by-side plots of land,” said Luke Mari, partner at ARYZE. “We figured if we couldn’t find a home for them, it was unlikely anyone would.”
When Wendy Welch, founder and executive director of VISA got a phone call from Mari asking if she’d be interested in a purpose-built space at a subsidized rental rate she was shocked.
“I said ‘are you serious?’” Welch recalled. “I was curious, why would they want an art school? But one thing with the Purdey Group and ARYZE is they’re interested in building something that has a link to the community.”
Since discussions began, Welch has been working with architects to create a campus space that suits artists’ needs. The new VISA campus will include two classrooms, a gallery and 15 studio spaces. In addition to this, one of the rental spaces upstairs will be offered to an artist at a subsidized cost as a form of “artist in residence” at the school.
Twenty per cent of the units will also be offered at an affordable rate, while another 24 per cent will be family friendly – meaning two- or three-bedroom units. The units will range in size from 380 to 990 sq. ft.
Shovels will hit the ground in January 2020 and it will take approximately 13 months to complete.
“We’re really happy to be able to stay in Quadra Village,” Welch said. “All of the positive feedback this has received … It’s given such a sense of optimism to people in the arts community.”
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