Excavator tears down the old triangular building at the corner of Bowker and Cadboro Bay that had been there six years shy of 100 years, to make way for the new development. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Abstract breaks ground on Bowker Collection

Ecole Willows Grade 5 class watches excavator tear down building at Bowker and Cadboro Bay

Abstract’s 43-unit Bowker Collection condo development broke ground Wednesday. As Tim Murphy’s Grade 5 class from École Willows looked on, an excavator tore down the old triangular building at the corner of Bowker and Cadboro Bay that had been there six years shy of a century. The students cheered as the roof and walls came down.

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“We are invigorated by the kids being here,” said Mike Miller, CEO and founder of Abstract Development. “Sometimes when you are caught up in the day-to-day stuff, you know, the grind of construction and development, it loses a bit of the fun. The kids remind us that life can have an element of fun to it.”

Murphy’s class has been following the progress of the development, as they work on a project to re-envision the Oak Bay travel corridor around their school, which includes the intersection in front of the Bowker Collection.

This initiative was brought forward by Willows PAC in light of Oak Bay council confirming they would move forward with creating bike lanes from Foul Bay Road to Bowker Avenue. The PAC is working hard to get Oak Bay to consider expanding to include the Cadboro Bay corridor from Bowker Avenue to beyond the school in next year’s budget.

“I think watching this is making the experience really real for them,” said Murphy. “As they design the corridor, this experience makes it tangible. They are moving forward into the 3D models in the next couple weeks, so this is great timing.”

During rezoning for the Bowker Collection, Abstract Development committed $100,000 as an amenity, earmarked for upgrades to the corner of Bowker and Cadboro Bay.

“We committed to a monetary contribution of $100,000 towards the intersection. Now we are working with Willows and Oak Bay staff to try to have the optimum outcome for the intersection,” said Miller.

The class is looking forward to presenting their ideas to Oak Bay council in the spring.

Of the 43 units in the development, only two are left to sell.

“They have been mostly local buyers – almost exclusively,” said Miller. “I think it speaks to a pent-up demand in Oak Bay.”

Abstract is now starting the leasing program for the six commercial spaces on the ground floor – a cafe/restaurant on the corner and five commercial spaces along Bowker.

“Overall we are excited,” said Miller. “We did our first land purchase on this site in the fall of 2013, so we started buying five years ago. We forget sometimes how long the cycle is for these projects.”

Target completion season is Winter 2019.

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