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Developer plans two towers for downtown Y site across from Christ Church

Concert Properties seeks rezoning approval for project that would include 220 condos, 150 rental units, a public plaza and some retail space.

The Christ Church Cathedral precinct on the edge of downtown Victoria could be significantly transformed if Concert Properties gets rezoning approval for a two-tower housing project that would bring 370 new homes to what once was a YMCA-YWCA facility.

The Vancouver developer has made an application to rezone 851 Broughton St. to allow for a mixed-use project that will include 26- and 11-storey towers housing 220 condominiums and 150 rental units, respectively.

The project, still in its early stages, will include a large outdoor public plaza, amenity space and some retail space.

According to Concert, construction of the buildings is expected to take between three and four years and will address the housing shortage and create new meeting areas.

And, Concert noted in a statement, the design reinforces the prominence of the church, recognizing its heritage and significance, while preserving views of the cathedral.

Concert said the organization of the site and building massing have been calibrated to “respect the presence of the CCC” and a mid-block passageway and plaza have been designed to offer a distinctive pedestrian urban experience that highlights the church.

Its plans have not been affected by Christ Church’s intention to redevelop its own site across the street, Concert said

Christ Church has an application in front of city staff seeking rezoning and an amendment of the official community plan to expand the range of uses on the cathedral’s lot.

While there are no firm plans as yet, Christ Church intends to add significant density on the 1.4 hectare site, bordered by Quadra and Vancouver streets and Burdett and Rockland avenues, that could see a number of new buildings ranging in height between six storeys and 30 storeys.

Early concepts suggest there could be 500 residential units with room for up to 1,500 residents.

Development potential of the site could pay some steep bills for the church.

Seismic work on the nearly 94-year-old cathedral is estimated to cost about $30 million, with another $20 million identified in needed upgrades and renovations in the building and on site.

While Christ Church envisions a build out of its property over more than 25 years, Concert hopes to get through the rezoning process and have its project ready within the next five or six years. The project promises publicly accessible amenities like an urban plaza with a water feature and children’s play area and retail space.

The 26-storey condo tower and 11-storey rental building are expected to take up only 43 per cent of the site’s area, leaving 57 per cent as open space.

Concert bought the site in 2018 for $21.969 million, signalling the end of an era for the Y.

The downtown Y, bordered by Broughton, Courtney and Quadra streets, was officially opened by Premier W.A.C. Bennett 59 years ago. It was built for $1.4 million following a community campaign supported by citizens and different levels of government.

That building opened after two separate Y organizations in the city were consolidated. The YMCA, serving males, had its building on the corner of ­Blanshard and View streets, and the YWCA, for women, was at Blanshard and Courtney streets.

In an update on its website, the Y said that efforts to seek a new location for the downtown operations continue, “with conversations involving a number of local potential partners/sites and with an opportunity for deeper collaboration including the City of Victoria.”

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