It’s taken over 11 years, but the Hudson Place One building, slated to be the tallest in Victoria when built at 26 storeys, has received its final approval from city council to proceed.
While not in need of a rezoning for the property at 777 Herald St., just off Blanshard Street, developer Townline was granted a development permit with variances for the building height (extra three metres), an increase in building massing at the upper floors, and a reduction in the minimum lot area, to be able to subdivide the site to allow for servicing of this building and the proposed Hudson Place Two, the second phase of this part of the Hudson District.
Not one member of the public spoke to the 176-unit proposal during a public hearing Thursday, and council ultimately voted 5-3 to approve.
Coun. Ben Isitt did not support the request, voicing concerns over the lack of an affordable housing element and the building height. Neither did Pamela Madoff, who had previously lamented the tower’s external design, and said the reduced upper floor setback effectively prevented a sculpting of the building, making for a “simple blocky design.”
Where Madoff characterized that element as a “lost opportunity,” fellow objector Coun. Jeremy Loveday used the same phrase to refer to the affordable housing aspect.
But Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe, who made the motion to approve the project, pointed out that Townline stepped up to help Pacifica Housing get the previously stalled Wing Building in Vic West completed with the provision of affordable units.
Coun. Margaret Lucas added that the downtown business community supports the project, noting that more housing units downtown have helped turn the retail vacancy rate around from 11 per cent down to just over three.
During his presentation before the discussion, Justin Filuk, Victoria director of development for Townline, reminded council that the site was rezoned in 2007 and granted a maximum building height of 72 metres.
Filuk also said the design calls for 43 stalls of commercial parking, a point not lost on Coun. Chris Coleman, who noted that the zoning requires 123 stalls where 250 are being provided.
The Hudson District is named for the fact it encompasses the block formerly taken up by the Hudson’s Bay department store and its public parkade.
Townline’s conversion of the old Bay building into suites was completed in 2012.