The wood frame, mass timber commercial building in Esquimalt Town Square utilizes green technologies and features 10-foot, ground-floor ceilings. It will eventually be home to a new library and a neighbourhood pub/restaurant. (Don Descoteau/Black Press Media)

The wood frame, mass timber commercial building in Esquimalt Town Square utilizes green technologies and features 10-foot, ground-floor ceilings. It will eventually be home to a new library and a neighbourhood pub/restaurant. (Don Descoteau/Black Press Media)

Excitement building around Esquimalt Town Square

Residential, commercial and library project will add vibrancy, amenities to area, mayor says

Anyone who hasn’t ventured into the heart of Esquimalt recently will notice big changes to the landscape – especially in the centre of the township, where the Esquimalt Town Square project is transforming the former public works site behind city hall.

It’s still a working construction site, but one of the four buildings in the plan is now ready to go on Carlisle Avenue, awaiting new residents this fall. The second condominium building next door won’t be far behind

Mayor Barb Desjardins finds it difficult to contain her enthusiasm about the development and the future of this site.

“This is an exciting project for the whole community and we’re all watching every day as it grows, and takes shape and becomes more and more alive.”

In the afternoon shadow of the six-storey residential condominium towers, a wood-frame, mass timber office building featuring 10-foot, ground-floor ceilings is fast taking shape. One can imagine the possibility of enjoying a meal and a beverage in a neighbourhood pub here, or relaxing on the public square with a coffee and baked goods from Esquimalt Roastery.

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Not only will this Aragon Properties project bring dozens of new residents to the neighbourhood, it will ultimately be home for an expanded Esquimalt library branch with many new features, a selection of new rental spaces and modern office spaces for companies looking to relocate or set up shop for the first time.

The project has brought to life a Town Square idea 11 years in the making.

Esquimalt residents also know Aragon from the company’s multi-year involvement redeveloping the English Inn property under the Oakwoods nameplate. While that project has taken somewhat of a back seat to the Town Square in terms of profile, the mayor says Aragon’s commitment to the Township is clear.

“To their credit, they came in and they partnered with us on the Town Square [and] at the same time … they took a look at the [former] Olde England Inn and said ‘We want to do wonderful things here.’ I think they saw the value in Esquimalt.”

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Vancouver-based Aragon, owned by Lenny Moy – a sometime resident of Sooke – isn’t rushing to get people into the buildings. While they have an occupancy permit on the first condo tower, they’re ensuring all the details are right before launching the sales campaign, says development manager Luke Ramsay.

Similarly, Aragon is waiting to partner with the right operator for what will be a ground-floor pub/restaurant space – COVID-19 challenges notwithstanding.

“We wanted to go in and make a positive change to a neighbourhood with a lot of history, so that’s kind of been our mindset from the beginning. I don’t think everyone will understand the actual impact until it’s all done. The mayor appreciates that more than anybody,” Ramsay said.

The Town Square project is one of several major residential developments under construction in the municipality, with others in the pipeline. That new prosperity and interest isn’t lost on Desjardins, one of the region’s longest-serving mayors (12 years).

“When I started as mayor, we were just starting to look at what do we do with our municipal properties, and how do we increase our tax base and add growth?’ Without growth it’s hard to maintain services,” she said. “Right now we have four cranes in Esquimalt – that’s something you’d never see here before.”

To find out more about the Town Square project, visit aragon.ca/portfolio/esquimalt-town-square/home/.


 

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