Victoria council is considering designating the Victoria Press Building, known for housing the Times Colonist, as a heritage building.
Mayor Lisa Helps said if approved, this would be the first mid-century modern heritage designation in quite some time. The proposed heritage designation first came up in February, but now council will move to the third reading on Thursday, followed by a public hearing.
The building at 2615 to 2629 Douglas Street, designed by a Winnipeg architecture firm, was built in 1971. The exterior facade has maintained much of its original appearance.
While a mid-century design, the building has “late modern” style elements, reads a report addressed to city council, which includes precast concrete panels, exposed aggregate stucco cladding, full height central entryway with rounded pre-cast concrete walls and smoked glass recessed fixed-pane windows.
The application for heritage designation is one of several related applications to facilitate a $26.5-million renovation of the 130,000 square foot building into a “campus-style destination office complex.”
A rezoning application has been submitted to turn the print reel room and press hall into a brewpub and distillery, along with a building permit that includes large seismic upgrades. An application for a 10-year tax exemption has also been submitted to assist with the costs of the seismic upgrades and to make “the overall project financially feasible.”
After the public hearing, council will consider approval of a motion to adopt both the heritage designation bylaw, along with a tax exemption bylaw.
The proposed heritage designation is considered to be an important step toward’s realizing the city’s planned vision of transforming the Burnside Gorge Neighbourhood from a car-oriented commercial area to a transit-oriented, mixed commercial and residential community that will become “the northern gate to downtown.”