Jump to content

      











Photo

2001: Guide to 100 properties; who owns what


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Holden West

Holden West

    Va va voom!

  • Member
  • 9,058 posts

Posted 02 February 2007 - 07:46 PM

This is from 2001 so it's a little outdated. Any mods that want to insert relevant photos, be my guest. :) There's always been grumbling over the years about how hard it is to develop in Victoria because of the "old boy network" that continues to hold a firm grip on the City.

--------------

Making it work: A guide to 100 properties, and who owns what

Jody Paterson

Times - Colonist. Victoria, B.C.: Jun 17, 2001.
(Copyright Times Colonist (Victoria) 2001)

It should have made it. Pop Culture had great stuff at decent prices, weird things like electric tulips and little dashboard hula girls that you couldn't get anywhere else. The staff was friendly, the service was good, and the store was easy to find.

So its closure a few months ago due to a lack of customers sent a shiver down the spines of more than a few downtown building owners familiar with the Broughton Street novelty store.

Its closeout was a defining moment, a statement of something bigger than just another store going out of business. If Pop Culture couldn't make it, then who can?

A downtown has to have magic, sparkle, a certain something that people can't find anywhere else. If they're going to give up easy parking and the comforts of uniformity to come downtown, it's going to have to be worth their while.

And so it becomes the job of those who love and profit from the downtown to make things work. They have to find the right combination to lure us from our suburban dens for food and entertainment, to put us in a sunny shopping mood and pull us down one street after another.

They need to encourage tourists without coming to depend on them, because they're a fickle lot. They need to make the place look welcoming without coming across like oppressors of the downtrodden. They need urban paths so those important shopping dollars can migrate. It's not easy.

On the whole, Victoria's downtown is splendid, a feast for the eyes of ocean and flowers and lovely old buildings. But that is only on the whole, because a careful walk through the downtown reveals small but worrisome pockets of decay.

Things are not particularly well on Gordon Street, or on several block-long stretches of Douglas.

The empty storefronts along lower Government Street are filling, but we who live here aren't likely to be browsing through them anyway: They're tourist shops, one after the other, full of T- shirts and sunglasses.

"A friend of mine called it Lahaina," says downtown real-estate expert Andrew Turner, a derogatory reference to the Maui whaling town now loaded with "cheap T-shirts and tattoos."

Developer Mohan Jawl worries, too. His building at the corner of Humboldt and Belleville streets is one of the few in that neighbourhood that hasn't given itself over to souvenirs.

"That area near the Causeway should be really strong retail," says Jawl. "The more that we let good tenants go, the less the tourists will be interested."

Victoria is a city still waiting to take the next step, the one envisaged in a civic report 11 years ago on the future of Victoria's downtown.

Build walkways around the harbour, wrote the authors, and push the Government Street retail strip past Johnson. Awaken Store Street. Better still -- extend it to Finlayson Avenue, creating a whole other entrance to the downtown.

The downtown community at that time foresaw the revitalization of abandoned industrial buildings along the waterfront, and a spirited downtown full of stores and people.

It pointed with pride to the vibrancy of a stretch such as Fort Street's Antique Row, a sad reminder these 11 years later of how far that part of the street has drifted from the days of more than 20 high-end antique stores.

Blame it on civic torpor, or on everybody being busy with other things. But more than a decade has passed and we're still saying the same things, and there's a feeling out there that it's time to get things moving.

"I think there's a general frustration that we've been talking for a long time and haven't made any progress," says Jawl, who owns five buildings downtown. "It's not a problem peculiar to this city, but it seems that consultation and process have become preoccupations. At some point, that has to give way to leadership."

No question, good things have happened. Herald Street is transforming, and a neighbourhood really was created at Harris Green. Wharf Street is still charming. And the new trend of building funky apartments downtown above street-level retail is bound to build crowds on city streets. Yates Street is showing the smallest signs of life, and more development is planned for Chinatown.

But if Victoria is to remain the jewel that it is, it's going to take more than that.

Victoria has a unique downtown. A large number of the buildings are owned by locals, in contrast to other cities where owners are more likely to be outside investors. Some Victoria families have owned their buildings for generations. And whether it's for sentimental reasons or fear of being taxed on capital gains, local buildings aren't bought and sold very often.

But that's not all that sets the city apart. Because Victoria is a capital, its biggest office customer is the provincial government. B.C. Buildings Corp., which manages government buildings and office leases, owns 25 buildings downtown. Two-thirds of all private office space downtown is occupied by government staff, with BCBC handling the leases.

Turner considers the corporation the strength and the weakness of downtown. Provincial revenues booming? Good news for the downtown office sector. Everything slow? Good luck. But on the upside: at least there's always a tenant.

Look up past the street-level retail of the downtown, and you'll see buildings of three, four, nine or more storeys. Only about an eighth of downtown space is given over to street-level retail. The rest is for offices, and lately, residential.

BCBC is obviously a welcome customer, but its mood swings can really hurt. When government workers relocated into Jawl's new waterfront office space by the Selkirk trestle a few years ago, the downtown vacancy rate rose to 11 per cent. Rents dropped as much as 40 per cent.

All is still not well with rents, which remain 10 to 20 per cent lower than they were pre-1995. But the vacancy rate has improved to four per cent, tight enough that Turner has begun worrying that there isn't enough space.

"I'd be happier at seven or eight per cent," he says. "Then you know that there's a place for tenants to move if they need the space. Plus the landlords have a little of the fear of god in them."

There were a lot of unhappy faces downtown when the government made the big shift to Jawl's Sawmill Point development, but not everything has turned out badly. The high vacancy rate brought plummeting rents, which attracted fledgling high-tech firms that couldn't have otherwise afforded offices downtown. Turner sees them as the downtown's best bet. The unusual work hours their staffs keep and the fact that they're often young and single make them perfect candidates for living and working downtown. Their need for restaurant meals and entertainment make them the dream date for street-level retailers looking for customers. "They're a different breed," says Turner. "They're the guys who aren't punching the clock and going home at five."

That has always been the goal, to get people downtown and feed that virtuous circle of profit. The shoppers spend their money. The stores pay their rent. The building owners pay their taxes. The city uses the revenue for good deeds.

But it's an art, luring them. And nothing can be taken for granted.

For instance, that panhandlers and property owners will make their peace. I talked to at least 30 building owners and almost every one of them listed the same three threats to the health of the downtown: panhandling, graffiti and parking tickets.

"I believe in how great and bright the city could be, but there's a grittiness to it these days," says downtown developer Fraser McColl Jr. "Victoria has beautiful bones and you can walk everywhere, and I'm a city mouse who loves being downtown. But when you're walking out of Chapters and there's a kid out there hooting and howling and nobody doing anything about it, something's wrong."

Building owner Art Kool witnessed a drug deal the other day that was anything but furtive. Then he came across a group of kids heaped in the entryway of Bob Cross's fancy new remake of his Douglas Street meat market, beer cans everywhere.

Panhandlers are people too, agree the owners. But they're going to be panhandling to ever-smaller numbers of downtown shoppers if something doesn't give.

"I don't think we've screwed up the downtown, but we're working on it," says Kool. "We all know that what we need is people who live and work downtown. Well, how can I ask them to live there when this is what they see out their windows?"

- - -

The building owners' resentment at a perceived lack of action on street issues was one of the major factors in their decision to blow up the Downtown Victoria Business Association last month. There was grumbling for months that the association was no longer listening to owners, and its blithe request for more operating money sealed its fate.

The owners acknowledge that dealing with panhandling and graffiti are tough challenges. But they figure it's get tough or die. "I've done a lot of travelling lately, and where Victoria is going is kind of scary," says developer Gerald Hartwig. "Go up and down the coast, and you'll see cities that people have worked hard to make people- friendly. We're way behind.

"We've got some major changes to make if we want to call ourselves people-friendly. That term takes in everything from clean streets to painted buildings to no street people to friendly service, and an exchange rate that's equivalent to the banks."

Building owners want to see the worst of the graffiti vandals prosecuted, and given sentences that include helping with the cleanup. Shukry Regep, who owns the Sweet Memories ice-cream parlour building on Government Street, says the vandals are relentless.

"I looked down the street this week at what used to be the Old Age Pension hall, all painted beautifully now and looking good," says Regep. "Somebody had come along and put graffiti all over it. There's nowhere you can go without seeing it."

As for parking, the owners can only hope the city sees the folly in the brutal efficiency of its parking-ticket commissionaires. "Go into a store for five minutes and you get a $7.50 ticket, which the city is talking about doubling," grumbles Ron Greene, who owns the Capital Iron building and neighbouring property on Store Street. Several other owners had similar anecdotes. Hartwig recalls getting a ticket after nipping into a store to look for change for the meter. Eric Charman, who owns property on Yates Street, was particularly galled by one ticket he got "14 minutes before six o'clock and not a car anywhere else on the block."

Mayor Alan Lowe says he's listening. Curbing panhandling will be the toughest, he says, but the hiring this month of eight new police officers to do foot patrols downtown should at least keep things more civil. As well, the courts are also showing interest in getting tough on graffiti vandals, says Lowe, noting that Saanich is in the midst of prosecuting one such vandal who caused an estimated $100,000 in damage.

Encouraging people to live downtown will also help. "We have a problem with street people," notes Turner. "But what it's going to take to fix it is the citizens of Victoria reclaiming their downtown."

Lowe has struck a task force in the wake of the collapse of the downtown business association, a mix of councillors, business owners and tourism types. Panhandling and graffiti are at the top of their to-do list.

Fine, say the owners. But come up with something more meaningful than a recommendation for further consultation.

- - -

Street issues aside, there are other challenges. Retailers on lower Government Street are happy enough with their pedestrian traffic, but other streets would love to share in those easy tourist dollars.

That requires interesting retail space block after block, to draw shoppers deeper downtown. Shoppers browsing Government Street routinely go no farther than its intersection with Johnson Street. They see the block-long Forests Ministry building on one side and the side wall of a hotel on another, and assume there are no other stores to see.

Elsewhere, the blank brick wall of the Capitol 6 movie theatre stops shopping dead on Blanshard Street. On Johnson, a similar wall at the Cineplex Odeon does the same. On Pandora, a person can travel four big blocks from Blanshard to Wharf and barely see a storefront.

On View Street, where McColl's new office tower is improving the streetscape, there's still the homely span of the View Street parkade. "There are a lot of gaps in the downtown," says McColl. "And when you've got a gap, there's nothing to draw people along."

City planner Doug Koch agrees. It's why the city largely prohibits development of new parking lots downtown. Still, there are plenty that linger from the old days, like the huge one owned by the B.C. Buildings Corporation that stretches almost the full length of Pandora between Blanshard and Douglas streets. "A parking lot interrupts street life," says Koch. "It creates a kind of eyesore and disrupts street-traffic volumes. But we can't force the ones that already have them to take them out, not as long as they're legal."

Part of the solution is to build different kinds of buildings, ones that incorporate retail space at street level and do their part to extend the shopping experience. When Randy Holt and Rick Tanner knocked down a "dysfunctional, obsolete" office building on Government Street in 1994 and built The Gap, the whole block started changing.

"I wouldn't say The Gap was everything, but it was the first serious upgrade," says Holt. "Suddenly, there was Starbucks on the corner. Then Ab Glowicki bought the book store we owned across the street and did a great job of renovating it for retail. As every year goes along, it gets a little better."

It helps when the building owner lives in the city. There's nothing like peer pressure to prompt a new paint job or some restoration. Owners from out of town are a tougher sell. Mark Lebovic, the Toronto man who owns the Forests Ministry building on Government Street, doesn't plan to sell or renovate his building, and his tenants have no intention of leaving. As long as that's the way it stays, the shopping stops at Johnson.

- - -

And then there's the question of incentive, the thing that gets a developer out of bed in the morning. There has to be a reason for investing in commercial property, and it usually involves making money. "We have to make it worth the developer's while," says Colliers International's Turner. Incentives could take the form of a relaxation on density, allowing developers to get more bang from their buck on small lots. The City of Victoria is wary of anything over 3:1 (a 10,000-square-foot lot would thus allow 30,000 square feet of building space), but Turner says that's not always sufficient to ensure economic viability.

One developer sadly relates the story of the Magnolia Hotel. Property owners Jim Duncan and Tony Young would have rested a lot easier with two more storeys, but council turned them down. When the hotel was completed, one of the councillors remarked that if council had only known how attractive the building would be, they might have changed their minds.

Bargains can be struck -- a little bonus density in exchange for a waterfront walkway, a tax break in exchange for a particularly aggressive sprucing-up of a scruffy area. The city gives 10-year tax holidays to owners of downtown heritage buildings willing to turn their upper floors into residential space, but several owners say the tax break isn't sufficient. Shukry Regep, for instance, has three floors of empty space above his ice-cream parlour and no intention of doing anything with it. "The 10-year tax holiday isn't enough," says Regep. "Too many people have rushed in and fixed up old buildings, and the only one who made it was Michael Williams. By the time I'd make money from fixing up this building, I'd be too old to enjoy it."

And then there's red tape. Turner says it's one of the first things companies watch for while checking out a new location. "We get site locators up here shopping things out, especially from the U.S.," says Turner. "They want to know there's enough people to work for them, and in Victoria we're well set up for that with UVic, Camosun and Royal Roads. But their major concern is government red tape. If they see barriers, they won't come."

Peter Pollen, a former Victoria mayor and defender of the downtown, points to the "smothering, obsessive heritage crowd which is stifling decent modern redevelopment." Eric Charman recalls the long struggle to get council to recognize the importance of residential use downtown.

Those days are over. But the future of the downtown is not yet secure, nor is the level of energy coming from city hall sufficient enough to bring comfort to anxious downtown building owners.

"I know that sometimes it feels safer to do nothing in this city, because you're going to get criticized by so many people," says Jawl.

"And there are definitely times where the most important thing is having someone who keeps things steady as she goes. But sometimes you need someone to break down the door."
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#2 Holden West

Holden West

    Va va voom!

  • Member
  • 9,058 posts

Posted 02 February 2007 - 07:49 PM

Downtown 100: Who owns what

Times - Colonist
Jun 17, 2001

(Copyright Times Colonist (Victoria) 2001)

1. Crystal Court Motel (701 Belleville) was the first motel in downtown Victoria, built in 1949 by the late Hugh Bevan. The Bevan family still owns and operates the motel.

2. OK, so it's a great dropoff spot for tourists. But is a prime downtown corner lot the best place for the Gray Line bus terminal?

The terminal building (700 Douglas) and property -- just like everything else in the block bordered by Belleville, Government, Humboldt and Douglas -- is owned by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

Fairmont Empress general manager Ian Powell says the common assumption is that "the Empress is the Empress" and nothing changes, but in fact there's a lot going on around the old place. The Charles Dickens Pub on Humboldt Street is gone and a spa is being built in its place. And in the last month alone, Powell opened 16 more hotel rooms in empty upstairs space.

A better use for the bus terminal site is on Powell's list of improvements, although he doesn't expect anything to happen for several years. He's pondering a resting spot for summer snowbirds, the ones who flee the heat of Arizona and California and might welcome two or three months in Victoria's temperate summer climes.

The Fairmont also owns the Empress and all the land under the Victoria Conference Centre. The City of Victoria owns the conference centre building until 2039, when its 50-year agreement expires and ownership reverts to Fairmont.

3. Crystal Garden (713 Douglas). Once a city-owned swimming pool, the building is now owned by the Provincial Capital Commission. Retail businesses at street level -- The Old Spaghetti Factory, gift shops -- and a small PCC-operated zoo and tropical gardens are key revenue generators for the commission, a Crown corporation.

4. Budget and National car rental lot (757 Douglas). City of Victoria owns the land. It has no plans for the property at this stage.

5. The Pacific Coach Lines bus garage used to be located on this site, now vacant and being used for paid parking.

Owned by Terry Farmer, who hopes to build a hotel in the next couple of years. That was previous owner Stan Sipos's plan as well, until he learned that removing contaminated soil from the site would cost close to $1 million. Dredged from the Inner Harbour in the early 1900s and used as fill, the soil contains heavy metals from the harbour industries of that period.

Sipos is now planning a 62-room hotel on land he owns at the corner of Menzies and Kingston.

6. The Y Lot, also known as the big parking lot behind the Executive House Hotel. BCBC owns two-thirds of this lot and has sold the other third to Vancouver's Concert Properties, which hopes to start construction in September of a 250-room Marriott hotel on the site. The remainder of the lot is still for sale.

There was brief talk of locating a regional arts centre on the site, but plans fell through after the Marriott deal was clinched.

7. Government offices (780 Blanshard). Owned by B.C. Building Corporation, a Crown corporation that's the dominant economic force downtown.

Between 60 and 70 per cent of total office space in Victoria is leased to BCBC, which manages buildings and leases for the provincial government. It owns 25 downtown buildings.

8. History has been laid bare in the Humboldt Valley now that the old Fairfield Health Centre has been torn down and the original St. Joseph's hospital is once again the only building on the property.

The Sisters of St. Ann bought the land in 1876 and built the region's first hospital on it. The additions that were added over the years before Victoria General Hospital opened in 1972 have all been stripped away in recent months as the land was readied for sale.

Like all successful projects, the $31 million St. Joseph's redevelopment has required a lot of creative thinking. The Sisters of St. Ann didn't want to simply donate their property and be left with nothing in exchange.

So they struck a deal with the Capital Health Region. The land would be divided, and the half with the old St. Joseph's building on it sold for development.

In return, the sisters -- more specifically, the Marie Esther Society -- will get a new long-term care hospital built on nearby property to replace their tired Mount St. Mary's Hospital at the corner of Burdett and Vancouver.

They are also holding onto the other half of the St. Joseph's property.

"The Sisters of St. Ann really deserve some recognition for the role they've played in this city," says Gwyn Simmons, whose firm Cityspaces Consulting Ltd. is involved in the development.

"Their properties have played an incredibly important role over three centuries in providing care and service."

St. Joseph's was missing an outside wall when the demolition dust settled, but it has since been restored using bricks recycled from the other buildings on the property.

9. This empty lot used to be the site of the Classic Car Museum, but the building was torn down a few years ago and all that remains is the rubble.

The lot and the adjacent one are owned by Frank Wille, owner of Wille Dodge Chrysler, Western Speedways and the waterslide park next door to it.

He's apparently trying to sell it but for more than anyone wants to pay. He didn't respond to calls.

10. Magnolia Hotel (623 Courtney). Owned by Swiftsure Developments Ltd., whose principals are local developers Jim Duncan and Tony Young.

They own several buildings in the downtown, including the Suze/ Lucky Building on lower Yates Street.

11. Hugo's brew pub (625 Courtney). The pub belongs to Victoria's Olson brothers, who also own the Strathcona Hotel.

12. Sam's Deli, Sydney Reynolds and other gift stores and offices (801-807 Government). One of five downtown buildings owned by lawyer and developer Mohan Jawl and his family.

13. A few of Ab Glowicki's downtown neighbours weren't too happy that he left his building in the 800-block of Government Street without a tenant for seven months. But Glowicki said he was waiting for "the right tenant."

That turned out to be Spirit of Victoria, a chain of gift shops owned by SwissAir and more commonly known as Alders, a popular retail outlet in airports. Travellers will be able to buy duty-free goods at the store and pick them up at the airport.

Glowicki was in the ladies' wear business before he retired to Victoria 21 years ago, and once had 53 stores from Ontario to B.C. Thirty-nine of them are still in the family -- Glowicki's three sons run them.

He owns four buildings in the downtown: the Metropolitan Building; one in the 900-block Government that houses Dockers; another on Fort Street where one of his sons operates Dot's Clothing; and the newly refurbished building next door to the Command Post in the 1300-block Government.

"If I'm buying property, I always look for Government Street first," says Glowicki. "You've got the tourists coming in, and if you mind your business, you have to be successful."

What would he like to see less of downtown? Street people and parking commissionaires. The tourists don't like them, although it doesn't appear to be stopping them from shopping downtown. Glowicki says his business is up over last year, and last year was up over the year before.

14. Tourism Victoria building and home of Milestone's Restaurant (812 Wharf). The site is owned by the Provincial Capital Commission, a Crown corporation that pays its own way with rent and admission revenues from attractions such as Milestones, the Royal Victoria Wax Museum and Crystal Garden.

The wax museum is the major tenant in the former Canadian Pacific terminal building, also owned by the PCC and situated across the harbour by Undersea Gardens. The PCC owns the water lot where the Undersea Gardens barge is anchored as well as a second water lot next door.

15. The Provincial Capital Commission has been wanting to do something about its Belleville Street ferry terminal for years.

And now it will have the chance. Victoria city council recently approved a rezoning application from the PCC that clears the way for a massive redevelopment of the terminal, home to the Black Ball ferry that travels between Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash.

"Getting the whole property rezoned was quite a coup, because it allows us to think how to use the whole property to enhance people's arrival," says PCC executive director Larry Beres.

The biggest change will be a sideways extension of Belleville Street into a mini-park, which will double as a roof to hide the vehicles below waiting for the ferry. Pedestrians will be able to walk much closer to the water and without a large expanse of asphalt to foul the view.

Construction on the terminal will likely begin in November, with completion expected to take a couple of years. Once it's finished, the Clipper -- a passenger ferry to Seattle -- will also relocate to the new terminal from its federally owned dock next door.

Beres sees the PCC's goal as "the enhancement of natural and built amenities of the capital," which it accomplishes by buying key properties and brokering deals. One local developer compared them to the fairy godmother, valued for their ability to rise above regional bickering.

16. Gatsby Mansion, Judge's restaurant, Ramada Huntingdon (309- 327 Belle-ville). The local Plasterer family owns the land, but Rita Roy Wilson holds a 75-year lease on the property and is the owner of these buildings.

17. Currently a waterfront parking lot at Ship Point owned by the City of Victoria, but being eyed for an arts centre and amphitheatre. The Provincial Capital Commission offered to build an amphitheatre at this same site for no charge to the city for the 1994 Commonwealth Games, but the council of the day declined the offer.

18. A variety of retailers have occupied this building (904 Gordon) next door to Harbour Cones. Local woman Islay Avren has owned it for 40 years. Avren says business is tough in her Gordon Street neighbourhood, known as Zone 1. "There are a lot of vacancies, and people are finding it hard to get tenants even if you offer them one, two or even three months free rent," she says.

19. Built as a downtown mall, Harbour Square (910 Government) never really worked for retailers and has effectively been an office complex for many years. ICBC bought the massive building for $20 million last fall from a British pension fund, prompting a relocation of the city's passport offices. The mall now houses local ICBC headquarters as well as the University of Victoria's downtown campus.

20. The building where Birks Jewellers has just relocated (1023 Government) is owned by the charmingly named Quest for Handcrafts Canada Ltd., which has had two buildings in the downtown since the 1960s.

It's essentially a holding company that took the name of craft stores that the King family used to own in Victoria, Calgary and Banff, Alta. The person who bought the stores in the 1980s wanted a new name, so the King family held onto the original name for its real-estate investments.

Company president Joanie King lives in Vancouver but visits often, including a trip over for the opening of Birks this month. She also owns the Albany Building a little farther south on Government Street, which houses the Irish Linen store and other retail.

King hopes the Government Street tourist strip holds on to its independent retailers and doesn't fall prey to the Banff syndrome. "You go there or into any resort town, and all you find is the same national stores you can find anywhere else," says King. "I think it's nice that Victoria has different ones.

She's hoping the city can get a grip on panhandling and graffiti. "It's always a concern when the underbelly of a city shows its face."

21. The Strathcona Hotel (919 Douglas), which has been in the Olson family since 1946. Currently owned by Olson brothers Grant, Kirk and Craig, who inherited part of the property when their father died in 1993 and bought the remainder from their uncle a year later.

22. Home of the Greater Victoria central library and provincial offices (940 Blanshard). The B.C. Building Corporation owns part of the building, while the four core municipalities of Victoria, Esquimalt, Oak Bay and Saanich own the library portion.

23. Madison's restaurant and The Futon Place (891-897 Fort). Owned by Fort Quadra Holdings Ltd., a local company headed by Devon Properties owner Rob Hunter. He's also one of the owners of Burns House, in Bastion Square.

24. London Drug plaza (911 Yates), which now includes living space above the redeveloped Frontrunner store. Owned by local developer Art Kool and his partner David Wilson. Kool also owns the building at 933 Douglas St. that currently houses the Skills Development offices as well as another at 727 Fisgard St.

25. Fort Street Eatery (888 Fort), office tower. The company that owns this one is headed by a local developer as well, Dave Vidalin.

26. The Joseph Building, an office complex (852 Fort). One of several downtown buildings owned by Yentel Property Management Inc., a partnership between David Siegel and Max Josephson. Siegel, Yentel president, is the brother of local restaurateur and Roxy Cinema owner Howie Siegel.

27. Provincial Vital Statistics offices (818 Fort). Building is owned by the Jawl family.

28. Another Swiftsure Developments building (749 View), owned by Jim Duncan and Tony Young. This one is currently housing a day-care centre and laser tag.

29. Bear River (1000 Government), one of the many tourist- oriented stores dominating lower Government Street. The building is owned by Pemberton and Son Ltd., a family affair headed by Victoria's Philip Holmes.

* Continued from previous page

30. This building (1006 Government) houses Hill's Native Arts, among others. It, too, is owned by Pemberton and Son. The Pemberton family has deep roots in the region; patriarch Joseph Despard Pemberton arrived here as a surveyor for the Hudson's Bay Co.

31. A few retailers have passed this way over the years, most recently novelty specialists Seeing is Believing (1020 Government). The building is owned by Dale and Rita Irwin, of Oak Bay.

32. Owned by local retailer William Philibert, who leases this building to The Whale Store (532 Broughton) and rents other retail space for himself on Government Street for his two businesses, Copithorne & Rowe and Sydney Reynolds.

Philibert despairs of the trend toward nothing but T-shirt and souvenir stores along lower Government Street. "I counted the other day and seven were selling the exact same things."

33. Office tower (1019 Wharf) leased to the government for various uses, including housing the B.C. Children's Commission. The building is owned by Wharf Street Holdings Ltd.; president is Vancouver businessman Daniel Pekarsky, who heads up Corporate Advisory Group Inc.

34. Waterfront parking lot below Wharf Street, adjacent to the Wharfside restaurant. The Provincial Capital Commission owns the land and is waiting for "the right project" to come along worthy of such a spectacular location.

35. Hartwig Court (Wharf between Yates and Fort), home of the aforementioned Wharfside as well as Bravo restaurant and other retail. Local businessman Cedric Steele owns the building.

36. The site of the now-defunct Rebecca's restaurant on the edge of Bastion Square is now D'arcy McGee pub and restaurant (1127 Wharf). Building owner is local woman Loula Mearns.

37. Breeze retail store, Garrick's Pub (1150 Government). Owned by Brittingham Properties (B.C.) Ltd. The company is headed by West Vancouver resident Kit Ching Chan, who also owns the Bedford Regency Hotel. Chan and her estranged husband Bon Koo, both of whom immigrated from Hong Kong in the 1960s, hit Vancouver headlines last year after a Chinese state-owned company won a $10 million judgment against Koo that threatened investments held by Chan.

38. Used to be Canada Post's main office (1230-1260 Government), and is still owned by the federal government. This part of Government Street changed for the better when the blank wall of the old post office was revamped to make room for retail at street level, a key factor in drawing shoppers along a street.

39. Currently home to the trendy clothing store A-Wear, among others (612-618 View). Building owner is Duncan resident Richard Stone.

40. The Central Building (620 View), a charmingly aged office tower that houses a host of non-profit agencies. The city shows its international flavour with this one -- the building is owned by Contract Holdings Ltd., whose president James Ronald McKenzie shows an address in Virginia Water, England. But McKenzie has more than a little Victoria in him as well, having been a city councillor during the 1980s reign of former mayor Peter Pollen. The McKenzie family also owns Monk Office Supply.

41. Four Seasons Fabrics (650 View). Johal Properties Ltd. owns the building; Ajit Singh Johal is company president.

42. The A&B Sound building (631-645 Yates). The owner is the unimaginatively named 51561 B.C. Ltd., the company's fourth name change since it was first incarnated as Telefunken Distributors for B.C. Ltd. back in 1962. President is Michael Fred Steiner, of West Vancouver. The Steiner family also owns the business.

43. Downtown McDonald's Restaurant (1201 Douglas). The $3.1- million building is owned by McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Ltd.

44. Chapter's bookstore (1212 Douglas). Local businessmen Rick Tanner and Randy Holt own the building through their company Western Spirit Investments Ltd., which also bought and renovated The Gap building on Government Street seven years ago. That building recently sold to a Vancouver investor.

45. The Sussex Building (1001 Douglas), a mix of street-level retail and office space leased by the Attorney General's Ministry. The building is owned by Sussex Place Equities Ltd., headed by Calgary businessman Peter Cohos. The Albertans know him as the president of real-estate company Tonko Development Corp.

46. Cues on View, one of the city's first tony pool halls, was a tenant in this building (708 View) a few years back, but it's now housing investment services. Building owner is Mark Foster, of Victoria.

47. Kidco Dance School upstairs, Tall Girl fashions downstairs (709-715 Yates). Rene Van Haren, of West Vancouver, heads the company 605573 B.C. Ltd. that owns the building.

48. Once the site of Standard Furniture (737 Yates), this land was vacant for years after the old furniture store burned down. Local developer Fraser McColl bought the land and built a multi- million-dollar office tower, which houses the Fido phone store and Blenz coffee shop on its Yates Street side and a small art gallery on the View Street side.

Check out the giant camel's head mounted on the wall inside the View Street entrance. It has been in storage from the days when it was high atop the Campbell block building at Fort and Douglas, demolished in the 1970s to make way for the Royal Bank building.

49. The Victoria Eaton Centre is owned by national real-estate company Cadillac Fairview, which in turn is owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund. That makes it one of the few buildings in the downtown owned by "institutional investors," the kind who trust in others to invest their money wisely and not bother them with the details.

Neither Cadillac Fairview nor the pension fund folks had any comment on the state of the city's downtown.

50. Quadra and Yates Holdings Ltd. owns the building that currently houses The Movie Cafe (851 Yates). The company, headed by Vancouver man Daniel Pekarsky, also owns the parking lot next door and property at 1250 Quadra Street.

Another company Pekarsky heads, Wharf Street Holdings Ltd., owns the Children's Commission office tower at Wharf and Fort.

51. A popular site for nightclubs (860 Yates), variously named and refurbished over the years to house hot spots of the moment ranging from the New York New York disco of the 1980s to the rough and tough Wastelands cabaret. Its current incarnation is the nightclub Sugar. Victoria's Karl Fritz owns the building.

52. Telus headquarters (826 Yates). Building ownership is registered to the B.C. Telephone Company, which is what Telus was known as before a name change a few years back. Some Yates Street building owners fear what could happen to the street if Telus further streamlines its operations in the future and no longer needs such a sizable building.

53. Empty lot at the corner of Blanshard and Yates. Also owned by Telus, which mostly doesn't use it.

54. Imagine Jack Lacterman's surprise when he pulled back into Victoria a few years ago after living in Palm Springs and discovered the Yates Street awnings were gone.

The awnings had been Lacterman's pet project in the late 1960s when Yates Street was positioning itself as one of the prime shopping districts in the downtown. The only building he owns (760- 774 Yates) is the one next door to the Cineplex Odeon, but he and another building owner managed to convince their fellow owners on both sides of the street in that block to sign on with a city- financed plan to hang awnings and create the look of an outdoor mall.

"We were No. 1 as far as getting tenants," recalls Lacterman, now 88.

Lacterman's building houses eight tenants, including three residents upstairs. The building once housed Scandals nightclub, but the club folded a few years ago. And Lacterman says that was the last time he'll rent space to any business that has "anything to do with alcohol."

Much of Lacterman's retail fronts along a mid-block walkway between Yates and Johnson streets. He says his stores are too big for most retailers, so having others down the side of the building allowed him to make use of space that would otherwise be wasted.

Lacterman was in on the construction of the city-owned Johnson Street Parkade as well, encouraging council to put in retail at street level. The city did but couldn't find tenants. So Lacterman signed a 33-year lease to manage the sites, currently occupied by a Japanese restaurant and a flower shop.

The lease has just expired. Lacterman isn't sure what will happen now, but says it isn't likely he'll be signing a new one.

[EDIT: Lacterman died July 5th, 2006, age 93]

55. Used to be the Yates Street News and other retail on this site, but all that's left is an empty lot after property owner Eric Charman tore down the Scurrah Building earlier this year. Charman, whose first downtown improvement project after moving here in 1953 was to illegally dig the Welcome to Victoria sign into the dirt bank at the far end of the causeway, is pondering a 12-storey office complex for the Yates Street site.

56. Birks Jewellers has shared this site (706-718 Yates) with Canada Post for years but is in the midst of relocating to the old Metro storefront at the corner of Government and Fort streets (see No. 101). The $8.8-million building that Birks is leaving is owned by Lavandier Holdings Ltd., headed by Saanich resident Anthony Ellis. Word on the streets is that Canada Post will be absorbing the space opened up by Birks departure.

57. Owned by the Oddfellows Union of Victoria (1313-1329 Douglas). Yummi's coffee shop and Arq beauty salon are retailers at street level, and several chapters of the International Order of Oddfellows still meet regularly in the upstairs rooms of the $1.8- million building.

58. Briefly empty after the departure of long-time tenants Brown's Florists. Recently reborn as the home of Jugo Juice snack shop. The building (632 Yates) is owned by local resident Joe Wo, who also owns the Freedman's Shoes building on Government Street.

59. Payless Shoes on the Government Street side, Starbuck's on the Yates Street side (1301-1303 Government). Owned by W.B. McLay Investments Ltd., Bruce McLay's development company, which also owns the building housing Street clothiers.

60. The Gap building (1319 Government), recently sold to a Vancouver investor. The building was a faceless office complex until previous owners Randy Holt and Rick Tanner bought it in 1994, tore it down and put in a new building specifically designed for Gap use.

61. The new home of Bryan's ladies wear as well as Hush, the latest incarnation of the gay bar formerly known as Rumours. Local company Wing Lee Holdings Ltd. owns the building (1325-1327 Government); president is John Cheung.

62. Site of the tony Designhouse furniture store and more (614- 618 Yates). Another building in Loula Mearns' downtown collection. She also owns the building next door, from which Leather World operates.

63. All Shukry Regep wanted was to run his restaurant. But nine years after he started up Ivanhoe's, his landlord told him he was selling the building at 1312-1314 Government and Regep would have to leave.

So Regep bought the building.

That was 21 years ago. Soon after, he moved to the storefront next door (in the same building) and opened Sweet Memories, still a busy little ice cream parlour that prides itself on being the first to bring waffle cones to Victoria.

Various restaurants have passed through the Ivanhoe space in the years since. Siam was the most recent, but it too has moved on and the storefront is currently empty.

Regep would have plenty of room for more tenants if that interested him: the building was constructed in 1895 as the three- storey, 30-room New England Hotel. But the fire inspectors shut down his upper floors 20 years ago, and he has since gutted them.

"I talked to UVic a while ago about taking them for student dorms," says Regep, who was pointed in the university's direction by the late Michael Williams. "I told them that if they fixed them up, they could have them. But they said it wasn't in their mandate."

The city gives heritage building owners a 10-year tax holiday if they convert their upper floors to residential use, but Regep notes he first has to come up with the money for mandatory seismic upgrades.

"By the time I made any money on it, I'd be too old to enjoy it," he says. "Besides, I'm quite happy with my ice cream parlour. I love this business."

64. Cowichan Trading Company (1320-1328 Government). The building was part of the Worthington estate and now belongs to Victoria Aver, Barrie Newman, John Worthington and other heirs.

65. The late Michael Williams did much to enliven weary buildings in Victoria's Old Town, including this one, the Paperbox Building (555-563 Johnson).

Williams willed this building and others in his downtown portfolio to the University of Victoria, which is waiting until Williams' will is probated before commenting on its plans for the properties.

66. Another Michael Williams holding (541-545 Johnson), this one housing Colonial Metropole and a dog-treat bakery, among others.

67. This building at 546 Yates is currently being leased by the Capital Regional District, but the regional district may not need all that space after buying the old police station on Fisgard Street from the City of Victoria. The company that owns the building is headed by local lawyer Ronald Lou-Poy, also involved in other downtown properties.

68. Capital Regional District headquarters (524 Yates). The CRD owns the building and is expected to keep its headquarters there despite its recent purchase of the old police station. The police building is needed just to amalgamate the far-flung offices of various CRD departments that no longer fit into Yates Street office space. Once the police station is ready to go, the CRD will temporarily relocate its headquarters there to allow for seismic upgrading at its Yates Street heritage brick building.

69. The boarded-up building doesn't look like much. In fact, I missed it the first time I cruised through Waddington Alley looking for it, wrongly assuming that it was a continuation of the Capital Regional District office on Yates Street.

But the old Morley Soda Water factory is local building owner C.B. Kramer's favourite one, the one she's most likely to still look at from time to time through the window of the CRD's second-floor coffee room.

Adjacent to Il Terrazzo restaurant, the building was constructed in 1884. There's a passageway through it big enough for horse-drawn carriages, which used to pull up inside to await their load of soda. But that was a long time ago; the building has been empty for decades.

Kramer's father-in-law bought the Morley building and two other downtown properties 51 years ago for storage space. She inherited them, and is now planning to lease them out after years of letting them sit.

She still has no interest in selling the buildings. "It's not a sentimental thing, but they'll remain in the family," says Kramer.

That could make it tougher to find tenants. Nobody is eager to put money into a project that they have no equity in. And all three of Kramer's buildings will need substantial investment before they're habitable.

Kramer isn't worried. "I've had plans for them once or twice since I became the lucky owner of them, and I think they'll be fine," she says. "One of these days, they'll be looking very nice. I'm sure of that."

70. Another C.B. Kramer holding, owned by her and her two daughters under the company name Sky Blue Properties Ltd. The two Northern Junk buildings are the mauve structures just down the way from the Provincial Capital Commission-owned Reeson Park. They've gone unused since 1978.

71. The Janion Building. C.B. Kramer owns this one too. The building was constructed as the luxurious Janion Hotel in 1891 and touted as one of the first in the city to have electricity. But its life as a hotel ended just four years later, and it went through various incarnations before being boarded up in 1948. Kramer's father bought the old hotel 51 years ago for storage space.

72. Swan's Hotel and Pub (506 Pandora), another in the Michael Williams collection. Like the rest of his downtown properties, it was left to the University of Victoria after Williams' death while travelling to England earlier this year.

73. The City of Victoria has been trying for years to sell this parking lot and dilapidated building next door, once a Buckerfield's store. But there were no takers until the city decided to quit demanding of prospective purchasers that they include a parkade in their plans.

Former Vancouver Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths is now negotiating with the city to buy both the building and the parking lot, although nothing will be final for another six months. Griffiths' plans for the site include a small hotel, retail and residential.

74. A scruffy building just up the street from Swan's Pub owned by the Young Hoy Sun Ning Benevolent Association. There's currently no retail operating out of the building, which is largely boarded up.

In contrast to the rest of the downtown, many of the properties in the Chinatown area are owned by non-profit societies, a practice that began in the early days of the city when people were immigrating from China to work on the railway and in the mines. The fraternal groups weren't specifically formed to hold property; people joined them for social and political reasons. But the organizations nonetheless allowed members to collect the kind of money needed to buy property, something that was out of reach for individual Chinese immigrants in those days.

75. The old B.C. Produce building on Pandora, owned by Victoria developer Gerald Hartwig, is slated for a fixup. Hartwig plans a mix of retail and residential. Hartwig also owns buildings on Fisgard and View streets, as well as one at the corner of Pembroke and Government streets. Hartwig's father Hans built Nootka Court at the corner of Humboldt and Douglas streets.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#3 Holden West

Holden West

    Va va voom!

  • Member
  • 9,058 posts

Posted 02 February 2007 - 07:52 PM

76. The big Bellamy Building (1401 Government) fronts on both Government and Johnson streets, and currently houses the Saa-Nuu- Kwa gift shop and Retrowear clothing among others. The building, owned up until this month by a company headed by David George Jenner, of Britain, sold this month for $2.9 million to local company First Line Property Group, headed by Michael Smith. Smith also owns Le Spa Sereine building just down the way and two others on Wharf and Broughton.

77. The Duck Building (Broad near Pandora). Part of the estate of the late Michael Williams, who once planned to fix this building up as he'd done with other properties on lower Johnson Street. But the City of Victoria wouldn't approve his paint-colour choices, so Williams bagged the project.

78. The city has a lot of hope for this building (corner of Broad and Pandora), formerly the site of Macdonald's Furniture and now owned by CHUM-TV, part of Moses Znaimer's TV empire (MuchMusic, Toronto's hip CityTV). Victoria's newest TV station will start operating out of the site this fall. City councillors are hoping a "speaker's corner" and round-the-clock broadcasting will bring new life to Broad Street and the downtown core.

79. Not all of the Provincial Capital Commission's holdings are fabulous waterfront properties. This heritage building (613 Pandora) across from City Hall houses PCC offices.

80. Home of Poster City, Subway, and other retail (1316-1324 Douglas). The $1.8 million building is owned by William Morgan and Antonia Plaxton.

81. Field's store (1420 Douglas). Local dentist Dr. Bernard Dong owns the building.

82. This big office tower at the corner of Johnson and Douglas currently houses Spectrum Job Search on the ground floor. Building owner is Victoria lawyer and developer Mohan Jawl, whose most recent project is the Selkirk development along the Gorge waterway.

83. City Centre Plaza (1483 Douglas), a collection of retail outlets ranging from the Garden of Eden adult-entertainment store to Suits U swimwear. A large office tower rises above the street-level stores, helping to boost this building's worth to $6.2 million. Owners are Wilson Lai, Nuen Lai and Ephrem Lai.

84. Home of the Women In Need thrift store. The building (785 Pandora) is owned by Yentel Properties Management Inc., a partnership of David Siegel and Max Josephson.

85. Yentel Properties owns this building as well at the corner of Pandora and Blanshard. Known for years as the Solomon Apartments, this is now the Backpacker's Inn and offers rooms at hostel prices. The most striking feature of the building is the trompe d'oeil painting of a giant tree on its rear outside wall.

86. Most of one side of the block on Pandora between Blanshard and Douglas is a giant parking lot. The lot is owned by the B.C. Building Corporation, which has no plans at this time to develop it.

87. Look closely at the Cormorant Street side of this building near City Hall and you'll see the old Fairfield Hotel sign, still welcoming guests after 89 years in business. Victoria resident Loretta Taylor remembers living in the hotel, built by her grandfather in 1912.

"I spent the first seven years of my life there," recalls Taylor, now managing director of the family company that owns the building. "My mom and dad had a suite. But it was the Depression and we had so many rats."

The hotel, which has retailers including Woodpecker Futons at street level, has seen its share of rough times. Taylor says one of her relatives practically ran it into the ground a few years back, making bad hiring choices and even worse ones in deciding who could let a room. "Then it was dumped on me," says Taylor. "So I fired everyone, cleaned and painted the building, and now it looks quite nice."

If Taylor ran the downtown, she'd get rid of "all those damn banks" on every corner and start a shuttle service to help elderly shoppers negotiate the shopping district. "At my age, I can't walk anywhere. And there's never any parking downtown."

88. The Centra Gas building (1675 Douglas). This one's owned by the Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and is assessed at $9.5 million.

89. Once the site of the Victoria police station, this Fisgard Street property has just been sold by the City of Victoria to the Capital Regional District, which plans to bring its scattered environmental-services department back together in the building once it has been renovated. The CRD will keep the facade of the police building but not much else.

90. This strip of retail (1720-1740 Douglas) across from The Bay appears to be going through some tenancy problems of late, with several of the storefronts currently empty. The building is owned by Vancouver resident Robert Paterson.

91. QV's restaurant (1701 Government). Another Chinatown property owned by a non-profit society, this time the Shon Yee Benevolent Association of Canada. (see No. 74 for the history).

A little farther into Chinatown on Fisgard, Magpie Gifts is owned by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Society. The grocery store across the street from Magpie, Jia Hua Trading, is owned by the Victoria Chee Kong Tong Society.

92. What do you do with an office building that's standing in the way of retail progress?

Not much if the owner and the tenants are happy with the status quo.

This building at 1450 Government is leased to the Forests Ministry and owned by Toronto businessman Mark Lebovic, who bought it years ago and has no interest in selling it. And wouldn't you know it, the ministry has no interest in moving.

Normally, that wouldn't be a problem. But those who know about the habits of shoppers say the building is interfering with the downtown's ability to pull people farther north toward Chinatown.

Shoppers apparently need a clear path with plenty of retail to keep them walking. Any break in the action is an excuse to go no farther, and Lebovic's impenetrable-looking building stops them dead. They figure there's nothing more to see, so they turn around and head back.

Lebovic was cranky when I called him to ask about his plans, stopping his repeated cries of "What do you want? What do you want?" only long enough to tell me that the building was just another investment for him.

I thought I had the explanation for his bad temper when one of the building owners told me he was the multi-millionaire Lebovic who just got hit with a court order to pay $75,000 a month to his estranged wife. Alas, that was Wolf Lebovic, with a different address and a different wife. I guess Mark Lebovic just didn't feel like talking.

93. Market Square has passed through a few different hands since being brought back to life by Sam Bawlf in the 1970s. These days, it's owned by Market Square Investments Ltd., a Vancouver company headed by Eric Carlson.

Nobody denies the charm of Market Square (530-562 Johnson), but it still has trouble holding on to tenants. That's because it's "destination shopping," says commercial leasing expert Andrew Turner. Shoppers have to choose to go into the square, and a lot of them don't.

94. Click's Furniture Store, Landsman Motors. City lawyer Ronald Lou-Poy's company HLP 888 Investments Ltd. owns both these buildings and surrounding property, much of it a parking lot, at the bottom of Fisgard and Herald streets.

95. Value Village must have one of the best views of any second- hand store in the country.

The building at 1810 Store is owned by TVI Inc., which runs its chain of 172 Value Villages and Savers stores from headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. The store used to be a public market, but it didn't work at that location. There are those who think times have changed enough that it might work now, but TVI has no plans to sell.

"I don't think it's ever even come up," says TVI official Darren Farwell. "We have storage underneath the building that we lease out, plus a fairly marketable suite we rent. It's vacant right now since L'Oreal left, but not for long."

Farwell admits that as a long-distance landlord, TVI doesn't trouble itself too much with what's going on in the city.

"We mostly let the store manager handle the property," he says. "We've tried to specify some issues where we should definitely be contacted -- like if the city is putting in a traffic island with no left turn, which is happening at a store of ours in Vancouver.

"But really, the only issues we're kept up to speed on are the ones that someone writes us about. Our biggest concern is to keep our property tax at a moderate level."

Maybe that's why Capital Iron owner Ron Greene hasn't had much luck with convincing his neighbour to clean the graffiti off its walls.

96. Sager's Furniture, Cascadia Bakery and more (1802-1814 Government). Bill Gladwell was involved in the renovations of the Sager's building at the corner of Herald and Government, and his father Henry owns it. Among the first to have its upper floors converted for residential use. Capitalizing on people's desire to live downtown is seen by politicians and downtown building owners as the key to keeping the downtown vibrant. Gladwell just wishes he'd waited until the city initiated its current reward program, a 10-year tax holiday. Known as the Lim Dat building, the site had a brothel on the upper floor in days gone by.

97. Office tower at the corner of Douglas and Herald, with Castello's coffee shop at street level. Another in the Mohan Jawl portfolio.

98. The parking lot at the bottom of Swift Street is owned by Terry Farmer, who also owns the old Pacific Coach Lines lot on Humboldt Street. The nearby Canoe Club property on the waterfront is owned by the City of Victoria.

99. Capital Iron store (1910 Store). Building owner Ron Greene once dreamed of having the multiplex on his fine piece of waterfront property, but lost out to the now-failed Victoria Sports and Entertainment Association.

Greene is gearing up to go back before city council with a proposal for a mixed-use retail and residential development on the waterfront lot he also owns in front of Capital Iron.

100. B.C. Hydro owns this substantial parcel of largely vacant land at the end of Store Street that stretches along Pembroke to Government. Open Door street outreach is run out of one of the two Hydro-owned buildings on the property.

Hydro has no use for the land but no plans to sell it, mostly because it's contaminated with coal oil from a previous incarnation as the B.C. Gasworks site and the cleanup will cost more than the land is worth.

PCB-contaminated soil was removed by B.C. Hydro several years ago and buried in sealed containers on the corner lot closest to Government Street.

Those containers are now being dug up and shipped for incineration to Swan Hills, Alta.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#4 aastra

aastra
  • Member
  • 12,794 posts

Posted 02 February 2007 - 09:17 PM

Great stuff. How about this one?

Peter Pollen, a former Victoria mayor and defender of the downtown, points to the "smothering, obsessive heritage crowd which is stifling decent modern redevelopment." Eric Charman recalls the long struggle to get council to recognize the importance of residential use downtown.


The battle still rages on both fronts.

Regarding parking, I've never understood the hubbub. You pay for the parking space during the posted times. What's so difficult about that?

One developer sadly relates the story of the Magnolia Hotel. Property owners Jim Duncan and Tony Young would have rested a lot easier with two more storeys, but council turned them down. When the hotel was completed, one of the councillors remarked that if council had only known how attractive the building would be, they might have changed their minds.


The Magnolia Hotel! Maybe some of you artist types could enlighten me, but is it possible that some people (some councillors, for example) are actually unable to envision the actual building from renderings and models?

#5 Icebergalley

Icebergalley
  • Member
  • 596 posts

Posted 02 February 2007 - 09:56 PM

Qupte:

"The Magnolia Hotel! Maybe some of you artist types could enlighten me, but is it possible that some people (some councillors, for example) are actually unable to envision the actual building from renderings and models?"

Aastra.... so many poor projects have been "sold" by cheap but good looking renderings that many people now give them little credibility...

#6 aastra

aastra
  • Member
  • 12,794 posts

Posted 02 February 2007 - 10:28 PM

Perhaps that was so, but it certainly hasn't been the case recently. I've made the observation that, in the vast majority of instances, the actual buildings tend to be at least as good as their renderings, and usually better. Recent exceptions include Ross Place and that lowrise on Fort Street (Adria?). Makes me wonder what the rendering for Trendwest looked like.

Then again, the quality of the rendering tends to suggest how much faith we should put in it. If it's photographic quality and highly detailed then the building should be all but an exact match. If Juliet doesn't turn out as depicted I think we'd all be fairly shocked.

A rendering should be precise. It shouldn't be some touchy-feely interpretive watercolour thing. If that's all the developer has then he should be obliged to produce something accurate.

Heck, in some instances the renderings are almost afterthoughts. I'm thinking of one fairly significant downtown project from a few years back...the rendering was prepared by an amateur 3D modeler.

#7 Ms. B. Havin

Ms. B. Havin
  • Member
  • 5,052 posts

Posted 02 February 2007 - 10:46 PM

Wow... thanks for posting this, Holden. I read Jody Paterson's introduction with the hair on the back of my neck starting to stand up. Or something like that. Maybe it was something I ate? Whatever. But it's uncanny that soooo much of what needs to be said has been said, and yet it keeps getting said over and over as though it hadn't already been said. Reinventing the wheel, anyone? ...
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#8 m0nkyman

m0nkyman
  • Member
  • 729 posts

Posted 02 February 2007 - 10:54 PM

Regarding parking, I've never understood the hubbub. You pay for the parking space during the posted times. What's so difficult about that?


The efficiency of the parking enforcement in this town is legendary. It is the most singularly efficient government department I have ever encountered.

This efficiency is counter to it's actual purpose.

One enforces limits on street parking to ensure that the retail businesses get sufficient turnover in parking... that is to say, so the all-day parking is in the parkades, and the street parking is available for shoppers.

When common sense is abandoned, and tickets are issued on empty blocks at 5:45, or when you see the Commisionaires waiting at a meter for it to tick over, it is apparent that they have lost sight of the goal.

It isn't to be a revenue stream for the city, it is to help aid businesses. The Commisionaires don't seem to realize that. Stupid as it sounds, I've lost two thousand dollar sales as someone runs out to plug the meter and is told by a stone-faced ticket-issuer that repeat metering isn't allowed and they have to move their car....

So, yeah, plug the meter. blah blah. But don't you dare tarry in a shop. Don't you dare have a timepiece that is accurate, as at least half of the meters are more than a titch fast. Don't you dare assume that the Commisionaires will give you a pass 'cause there's no other car within three blocks. 'Cause those things will earn you a fifteen dollar ticket and a resolve to not return downtown, but to park for free at the mall.

#9 G-Man

G-Man

    Senior Case Officer

  • Moderator
  • 11,767 posts

Posted 03 February 2007 - 10:13 AM

I think the only place I have received a city parling ticket is parked in front of my house. We need to improve transit ifrastructure so that there is not as much need to drive downtown. Of course why people don't use the parkades but must instead use street parking is just human laziness and if you get a ticket well that is your fault.

15. The Provincial Capital Commission has been wanting to do something about its Belleville Street ferry terminal for years.

And now it will have the chance. Victoria city council recently approved a rezoning application from the PCC that clears the way for a massive redevelopment of the terminal, home to the Black Ball ferry that travels between Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash.

"Getting the whole property rezoned was quite a coup, because it allows us to think how to use the whole property to enhance people's arrival," says PCC executive director Larry Beres.

The biggest change will be a sideways extension of Belleville Street into a mini-park, which will double as a roof to hide the vehicles below waiting for the ferry. Pedestrians will be able to walk much closer to the water and without a large expanse of asphalt to foul the view.

Construction on the terminal will likely begin in November, with completion expected to take a couple of years. Once it's finished, the Clipper -- a passenger ferry to Seattle -- will also relocate to the new terminal from its federally owned dock next door.

Beres sees the PCC's goal as "the enhancement of natural and built amenities of the capital," which it accomplishes by buying key properties and brokering deals. One local developer compared them to the fairy godmother, valued for their ability to rise above regional bickering.


This is in my opinion one of Victoria's biggest legacy flops of which we have many.

Visit my blog at: https://www.sidewalkingvictoria.com 

 

It has a whole new look!

 


#10 mikedw

mikedw
  • Member
  • 59 posts

Posted 03 February 2007 - 08:44 PM

76. ...


Holden: Awesome. If I had the time, I'd try to plug this in to a Google Maps application I worked up a while back:

http://mike.dewolfe.... ... riftStores

(this is its "Thrift Store" incarnation)

I really like this piece-- it puts Victoria into a different perspective. It also underlines that few people own a lot of downtown.

#11 VicHockeyFan

VicHockeyFan
  • Member
  • 47,560 posts

Posted 04 February 2007 - 12:28 AM

Jack LactermAN USED TO BE MY LANDLORD, HE WAS A VERY SHREWD BUSINESSMAN.

DAMN CAPS LOCK.
  • Matt R. likes this

#12 Holden West

Holden West

    Va va voom!

  • Member
  • 9,058 posts

Posted 13 August 2010 - 09:33 AM

Ellis and her husband Geoffrey retired to Victoria in 1962, having run a successful laundry and dry-cleaning business in Yorkshire. They soon began acquiring choice pieces of land, such as Canoe Cove Marina. Pam bought the Keg building on lower Fort Street and the post office building on Yates, and the family's Belmont Management continues to expand, with purchases such as Murchie's on Government Street.


Read more: http://www.timescolo...l#ixzz0wVZyhRXM
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#13 victorian fan

victorian fan
  • Member
  • 1,923 posts

Posted 13 August 2010 - 01:28 PM

Frank Willie is dead. He owned lots of property around Victoria.

#14 VicHockeyFan

VicHockeyFan
  • Member
  • 47,560 posts

Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:25 PM

Ha, just dug this up again. Still an interesting list.

#15 Mixed365

Mixed365
  • Member
  • 921 posts

Posted 07 September 2014 - 01:02 PM

Would absolutely love to see an update of this. Im sure a lot has changed since 2007 with properties changing hands  :banana:


“To understand cities, we have to deal outright with combinations or mixtures of uses, not separate uses, as the essential phenomena.”
- Jane Jacobs 


#16 Mixed365

Mixed365
  • Member
  • 921 posts

Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:10 PM

Downtown 100: Who owns what

Times - Colonist
Jun 17, 2001

(Copyright Times Colonist (Victoria) 2001)

1. Crystal Court Motel (701 Belleville) was the first motel in downtown Victoria, built in 1949 by the late Hugh Bevan. The Bevan family still owns and operates the motel.

2. OK, so it's a great dropoff spot for tourists. But is a prime downtown corner lot the best place for the Gray Line bus terminal?

The terminal building (700 Douglas) and property -- just like everything else in the block bordered by Belleville, Government, Humboldt and Douglas -- is owned by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

Fairmont Empress general manager Ian Powell says the common assumption is that "the Empress is the Empress" and nothing changes, but in fact there's a lot going on around the old place. The Charles Dickens Pub on Humboldt Street is gone and a spa is being built in its place. And in the last month alone, Powell opened 16 more hotel rooms in empty upstairs space.

A better use for the bus terminal site is on Powell's list of improvements, although he doesn't expect anything to happen for several years. He's pondering a resting spot for summer snowbirds, the ones who flee the heat of Arizona and California and might welcome two or three months in Victoria's temperate summer climes.

The Fairmont also owns the Empress and all the land under the Victoria Conference Centre. The City of Victoria owns the conference centre building until 2039, when its 50-year agreement expires and ownership reverts to Fairmont.

3. Crystal Garden (713 Douglas). Once a city-owned swimming pool, the building is now owned by the Provincial Capital Commission. Retail businesses at street level -- The Old Spaghetti Factory, gift shops -- and a small PCC-operated zoo and tropical gardens are key revenue generators for the commission, a Crown corporation.

4. Budget and National car rental lot (757 Douglas). City of Victoria owns the land. It has no plans for the property at this stage.

5. The Pacific Coach Lines bus garage used to be located on this site, now vacant and being used for paid parking.

Owned by Terry Farmer, who hopes to build a hotel in the next couple of years. That was previous owner Stan Sipos's plan as well, until he learned that removing contaminated soil from the site would cost close to $1 million. Dredged from the Inner Harbour in the early 1900s and used as fill, the soil contains heavy metals from the harbour industries of that period.

Sipos is now planning a 62-room hotel on land he owns at the corner of Menzies and Kingston.

6. The Y Lot, also known as the big parking lot behind the Executive House Hotel. BCBC owns two-thirds of this lot and has sold the other third to Vancouver's Concert Properties, which hopes to start construction in September of a 250-room Marriott hotel on the site. The remainder of the lot is still for sale.

There was brief talk of locating a regional arts centre on the site, but plans fell through after the Marriott deal was clinched.

7. Government offices (780 Blanshard). Owned by B.C. Building Corporation, a Crown corporation that's the dominant economic force downtown.

Between 60 and 70 per cent of total office space in Victoria is leased to BCBC, which manages buildings and leases for the provincial government. It owns 25 downtown buildings.

8. History has been laid bare in the Humboldt Valley now that the old Fairfield Health Centre has been torn down and the original St. Joseph's hospital is once again the only building on the property.

The Sisters of St. Ann bought the land in 1876 and built the region's first hospital on it. The additions that were added over the years before Victoria General Hospital opened in 1972 have all been stripped away in recent months as the land was readied for sale.

Like all successful projects, the $31 million St. Joseph's redevelopment has required a lot of creative thinking. The Sisters of St. Ann didn't want to simply donate their property and be left with nothing in exchange.

So they struck a deal with the Capital Health Region. The land would be divided, and the half with the old St. Joseph's building on it sold for development.

In return, the sisters -- more specifically, the Marie Esther Society -- will get a new long-term care hospital built on nearby property to replace their tired Mount St. Mary's Hospital at the corner of Burdett and Vancouver.

They are also holding onto the other half of the St. Joseph's property.

"The Sisters of St. Ann really deserve some recognition for the role they've played in this city," says Gwyn Simmons, whose firm Cityspaces Consulting Ltd. is involved in the development.

"Their properties have played an incredibly important role over three centuries in providing care and service."

St. Joseph's was missing an outside wall when the demolition dust settled, but it has since been restored using bricks recycled from the other buildings on the property.

9. This empty lot used to be the site of the Classic Car Museum, but the building was torn down a few years ago and all that remains is the rubble.

The lot and the adjacent one are owned by Frank Wille, owner of Wille Dodge Chrysler, Western Speedways and the waterslide park next door to it.

He's apparently trying to sell it but for more than anyone wants to pay. He didn't respond to calls.

10. Magnolia Hotel (623 Courtney). Owned by Swiftsure Developments Ltd., whose principals are local developers Jim Duncan and Tony Young.

They own several buildings in the downtown, including the Suze/ Lucky Building on lower Yates Street.

11. Hugo's brew pub (625 Courtney). The pub belongs to Victoria's Olson brothers, who also own the Strathcona Hotel.

12. Sam's Deli, Sydney Reynolds and other gift stores and offices (801-807 Government). One of five downtown buildings owned by lawyer and developer Mohan Jawl and his family.

13. A few of Ab Glowicki's downtown neighbours weren't too happy that he left his building in the 800-block of Government Street without a tenant for seven months. But Glowicki said he was waiting for "the right tenant."

That turned out to be Spirit of Victoria, a chain of gift shops owned by SwissAir and more commonly known as Alders, a popular retail outlet in airports. Travellers will be able to buy duty-free goods at the store and pick them up at the airport.

Glowicki was in the ladies' wear business before he retired to Victoria 21 years ago, and once had 53 stores from Ontario to B.C. Thirty-nine of them are still in the family -- Glowicki's three sons run them.

He owns four buildings in the downtown: the Metropolitan Building; one in the 900-block Government that houses Dockers; another on Fort Street where one of his sons operates Dot's Clothing; and the newly refurbished building next door to the Command Post in the 1300-block Government.

"If I'm buying property, I always look for Government Street first," says Glowicki. "You've got the tourists coming in, and if you mind your business, you have to be successful."

What would he like to see less of downtown? Street people and parking commissionaires. The tourists don't like them, although it doesn't appear to be stopping them from shopping downtown. Glowicki says his business is up over last year, and last year was up over the year before.

14. Tourism Victoria building and home of Milestone's Restaurant (812 Wharf). The site is owned by the Provincial Capital Commission, a Crown corporation that pays its own way with rent and admission revenues from attractions such as Milestones, the Royal Victoria Wax Museum and Crystal Garden.

The wax museum is the major tenant in the former Canadian Pacific terminal building, also owned by the PCC and situated across the harbour by Undersea Gardens. The PCC owns the water lot where the Undersea Gardens barge is anchored as well as a second water lot next door.

15. The Provincial Capital Commission has been wanting to do something about its Belleville Street ferry terminal for years.

And now it will have the chance. Victoria city council recently approved a rezoning application from the PCC that clears the way for a massive redevelopment of the terminal, home to the Black Ball ferry that travels between Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash.

"Getting the whole property rezoned was quite a coup, because it allows us to think how to use the whole property to enhance people's arrival," says PCC executive director Larry Beres.

The biggest change will be a sideways extension of Belleville Street into a mini-park, which will double as a roof to hide the vehicles below waiting for the ferry. Pedestrians will be able to walk much closer to the water and without a large expanse of asphalt to foul the view.

Construction on the terminal will likely begin in November, with completion expected to take a couple of years. Once it's finished, the Clipper -- a passenger ferry to Seattle -- will also relocate to the new terminal from its federally owned dock next door.

Beres sees the PCC's goal as "the enhancement of natural and built amenities of the capital," which it accomplishes by buying key properties and brokering deals. One local developer compared them to the fairy godmother, valued for their ability to rise above regional bickering.

16. Gatsby Mansion, Judge's restaurant, Ramada Huntingdon (309- 327 Belle-ville). The local Plasterer family owns the land, but Rita Roy Wilson holds a 75-year lease on the property and is the owner of these buildings.

17. Currently a waterfront parking lot at Ship Point owned by the City of Victoria, but being eyed for an arts centre and amphitheatre. The Provincial Capital Commission offered to build an amphitheatre at this same site for no charge to the city for the 1994 Commonwealth Games, but the council of the day declined the offer.

18. A variety of retailers have occupied this building (904 Gordon) next door to Harbour Cones. Local woman Islay Avren has owned it for 40 years. Avren says business is tough in her Gordon Street neighbourhood, known as Zone 1. "There are a lot of vacancies, and people are finding it hard to get tenants even if you offer them one, two or even three months free rent," she says.

19. Built as a downtown mall, Harbour Square (910 Government) never really worked for retailers and has effectively been an office complex for many years. ICBC bought the massive building for $20 million last fall from a British pension fund, prompting a relocation of the city's passport offices. The mall now houses local ICBC headquarters as well as the University of Victoria's downtown campus.

20. The building where Birks Jewellers has just relocated (1023 Government) is owned by the charmingly named Quest for Handcrafts Canada Ltd., which has had two buildings in the downtown since the 1960s.

It's essentially a holding company that took the name of craft stores that the King family used to own in Victoria, Calgary and Banff, Alta. The person who bought the stores in the 1980s wanted a new name, so the King family held onto the original name for its real-estate investments.

Company president Joanie King lives in Vancouver but visits often, including a trip over for the opening of Birks this month. She also owns the Albany Building a little farther south on Government Street, which houses the Irish Linen store and other retail.

King hopes the Government Street tourist strip holds on to its independent retailers and doesn't fall prey to the Banff syndrome. "You go there or into any resort town, and all you find is the same national stores you can find anywhere else," says King. "I think it's nice that Victoria has different ones.

She's hoping the city can get a grip on panhandling and graffiti. "It's always a concern when the underbelly of a city shows its face."

21. The Strathcona Hotel (919 Douglas), which has been in the Olson family since 1946. Currently owned by Olson brothers Grant, Kirk and Craig, who inherited part of the property when their father died in 1993 and bought the remainder from their uncle a year later.

22. Home of the Greater Victoria central library and provincial offices (940 Blanshard). The B.C. Building Corporation owns part of the building, while the four core municipalities of Victoria, Esquimalt, Oak Bay and Saanich own the library portion.

23. Madison's restaurant and The Futon Place (891-897 Fort). Owned by Fort Quadra Holdings Ltd., a local company headed by Devon Properties owner Rob Hunter. He's also one of the owners of Burns House, in Bastion Square.

24. London Drug plaza (911 Yates), which now includes living space above the redeveloped Frontrunner store. Owned by local developer Art Kool and his partner David Wilson. Kool also owns the building at 933 Douglas St. that currently houses the Skills Development offices as well as another at 727 Fisgard St.

25. Fort Street Eatery (888 Fort), office tower. The company that owns this one is headed by a local developer as well, Dave Vidalin.

26. The Joseph Building, an office complex (852 Fort). One of several downtown buildings owned by Yentel Property Management Inc., a partnership between David Siegel and Max Josephson. Siegel, Yentel president, is the brother of local restaurateur and Roxy Cinema owner Howie Siegel.

27. Provincial Vital Statistics offices (818 Fort). Building is owned by the Jawl family.

28. Another Swiftsure Developments building (749 View), owned by Jim Duncan and Tony Young. This one is currently housing a day-care centre and laser tag.

29. Bear River (1000 Government), one of the many tourist- oriented stores dominating lower Government Street. The building is owned by Pemberton and Son Ltd., a family affair headed by Victoria's Philip Holmes.

* Continued from previous page

30. This building (1006 Government) houses Hill's Native Arts, among others. It, too, is owned by Pemberton and Son. The Pemberton family has deep roots in the region; patriarch Joseph Despard Pemberton arrived here as a surveyor for the Hudson's Bay Co.

31. A few retailers have passed this way over the years, most recently novelty specialists Seeing is Believing (1020 Government). The building is owned by Dale and Rita Irwin, of Oak Bay.

32. Owned by local retailer William Philibert, who leases this building to The Whale Store (532 Broughton) and rents other retail space for himself on Government Street for his two businesses, Copithorne & Rowe and Sydney Reynolds.

Philibert despairs of the trend toward nothing but T-shirt and souvenir stores along lower Government Street. "I counted the other day and seven were selling the exact same things."

33. Office tower (1019 Wharf) leased to the government for various uses, including housing the B.C. Children's Commission. The building is owned by Wharf Street Holdings Ltd.; president is Vancouver businessman Daniel Pekarsky, who heads up Corporate Advisory Group Inc.

34. Waterfront parking lot below Wharf Street, adjacent to the Wharfside restaurant. The Provincial Capital Commission owns the land and is waiting for "the right project" to come along worthy of such a spectacular location.

35. Hartwig Court (Wharf between Yates and Fort), home of the aforementioned Wharfside as well as Bravo restaurant and other retail. Local businessman Cedric Steele owns the building.

36. The site of the now-defunct Rebecca's restaurant on the edge of Bastion Square is now D'arcy McGee pub and restaurant (1127 Wharf). Building owner is local woman Loula Mearns.

37. Breeze retail store, Garrick's Pub (1150 Government). Owned by Brittingham Properties (B.C.) Ltd. The company is headed by West Vancouver resident Kit Ching Chan, who also owns the Bedford Regency Hotel. Chan and her estranged husband Bon Koo, both of whom immigrated from Hong Kong in the 1960s, hit Vancouver headlines last year after a Chinese state-owned company won a $10 million judgment against Koo that threatened investments held by Chan.

38. Used to be Canada Post's main office (1230-1260 Government), and is still owned by the federal government. This part of Government Street changed for the better when the blank wall of the old post office was revamped to make room for retail at street level, a key factor in drawing shoppers along a street.

39. Currently home to the trendy clothing store A-Wear, among others (612-618 View). Building owner is Duncan resident Richard Stone.

40. The Central Building (620 View), a charmingly aged office tower that houses a host of non-profit agencies. The city shows its international flavour with this one -- the building is owned by Contract Holdings Ltd., whose president James Ronald McKenzie shows an address in Virginia Water, England. But McKenzie has more than a little Victoria in him as well, having been a city councillor during the 1980s reign of former mayor Peter Pollen. The McKenzie family also owns Monk Office Supply.

41. Four Seasons Fabrics (650 View). Johal Properties Ltd. owns the building; Ajit Singh Johal is company president.

42. The A&B Sound building (631-645 Yates). The owner is the unimaginatively named 51561 B.C. Ltd., the company's fourth name change since it was first incarnated as Telefunken Distributors for B.C. Ltd. back in 1962. President is Michael Fred Steiner, of West Vancouver. The Steiner family also owns the business.

43. Downtown McDonald's Restaurant (1201 Douglas). The $3.1- million building is owned by McDonald's Restaurants of Canada Ltd.

44. Chapter's bookstore (1212 Douglas). Local businessmen Rick Tanner and Randy Holt own the building through their company Western Spirit Investments Ltd., which also bought and renovated The Gap building on Government Street seven years ago. That building recently sold to a Vancouver investor.

45. The Sussex Building (1001 Douglas), a mix of street-level retail and office space leased by the Attorney General's Ministry. The building is owned by Sussex Place Equities Ltd., headed by Calgary businessman Peter Cohos. The Albertans know him as the president of real-estate company Tonko Development Corp.

46. Cues on View, one of the city's first tony pool halls, was a tenant in this building (708 View) a few years back, but it's now housing investment services. Building owner is Mark Foster, of Victoria.

47. Kidco Dance School upstairs, Tall Girl fashions downstairs (709-715 Yates). Rene Van Haren, of West Vancouver, heads the company 605573 B.C. Ltd. that owns the building.

48. Once the site of Standard Furniture (737 Yates), this land was vacant for years after the old furniture store burned down. Local developer Fraser McColl bought the land and built a multi- million-dollar office tower, which houses the Fido phone store and Blenz coffee shop on its Yates Street side and a small art gallery on the View Street side.

Check out the giant camel's head mounted on the wall inside the View Street entrance. It has been in storage from the days when it was high atop the Campbell block building at Fort and Douglas, demolished in the 1970s to make way for the Royal Bank building.

49. The Victoria Eaton Centre is owned by national real-estate company Cadillac Fairview, which in turn is owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund. That makes it one of the few buildings in the downtown owned by "institutional investors," the kind who trust in others to invest their money wisely and not bother them with the details.

Neither Cadillac Fairview nor the pension fund folks had any comment on the state of the city's downtown.

50. Quadra and Yates Holdings Ltd. owns the building that currently houses The Movie Cafe (851 Yates). The company, headed by Vancouver man Daniel Pekarsky, also owns the parking lot next door and property at 1250 Quadra Street.

Another company Pekarsky heads, Wharf Street Holdings Ltd., owns the Children's Commission office tower at Wharf and Fort.

51. A popular site for nightclubs (860 Yates), variously named and refurbished over the years to house hot spots of the moment ranging from the New York New York disco of the 1980s to the rough and tough Wastelands cabaret. Its current incarnation is the nightclub Sugar. Victoria's Karl Fritz owns the building.

52. Telus headquarters (826 Yates). Building ownership is registered to the B.C. Telephone Company, which is what Telus was known as before a name change a few years back. Some Yates Street building owners fear what could happen to the street if Telus further streamlines its operations in the future and no longer needs such a sizable building.

53. Empty lot at the corner of Blanshard and Yates. Also owned by Telus, which mostly doesn't use it.

54. Imagine Jack Lacterman's surprise when he pulled back into Victoria a few years ago after living in Palm Springs and discovered the Yates Street awnings were gone.

The awnings had been Lacterman's pet project in the late 1960s when Yates Street was positioning itself as one of the prime shopping districts in the downtown. The only building he owns (760- 774 Yates) is the one next door to the Cineplex Odeon, but he and another building owner managed to convince their fellow owners on both sides of the street in that block to sign on with a city- financed plan to hang awnings and create the look of an outdoor mall.

"We were No. 1 as far as getting tenants," recalls Lacterman, now 88.

Lacterman's building houses eight tenants, including three residents upstairs. The building once housed Scandals nightclub, but the club folded a few years ago. And Lacterman says that was the last time he'll rent space to any business that has "anything to do with alcohol."

Much of Lacterman's retail fronts along a mid-block walkway between Yates and Johnson streets. He says his stores are too big for most retailers, so having others down the side of the building allowed him to make use of space that would otherwise be wasted.

Lacterman was in on the construction of the city-owned Johnson Street Parkade as well, encouraging council to put in retail at street level. The city did but couldn't find tenants. So Lacterman signed a 33-year lease to manage the sites, currently occupied by a Japanese restaurant and a flower shop.

The lease has just expired. Lacterman isn't sure what will happen now, but says it isn't likely he'll be signing a new one.

[EDIT: Lacterman died July 5th, 2006, age 93]

55. Used to be the Yates Street News and other retail on this site, but all that's left is an empty lot after property owner Eric Charman tore down the Scurrah Building earlier this year. Charman, whose first downtown improvement project after moving here in 1953 was to illegally dig the Welcome to Victoria sign into the dirt bank at the far end of the causeway, is pondering a 12-storey office complex for the Yates Street site.

56. Birks Jewellers has shared this site (706-718 Yates) with Canada Post for years but is in the midst of relocating to the old Metro storefront at the corner of Government and Fort streets (see No. 101). The $8.8-million building that Birks is leaving is owned by Lavandier Holdings Ltd., headed by Saanich resident Anthony Ellis. Word on the streets is that Canada Post will be absorbing the space opened up by Birks departure.

57. Owned by the Oddfellows Union of Victoria (1313-1329 Douglas). Yummi's coffee shop and Arq beauty salon are retailers at street level, and several chapters of the International Order of Oddfellows still meet regularly in the upstairs rooms of the $1.8- million building.

58. Briefly empty after the departure of long-time tenants Brown's Florists. Recently reborn as the home of Jugo Juice snack shop. The building (632 Yates) is owned by local resident Joe Wo, who also owns the Freedman's Shoes building on Government Street.

59. Payless Shoes on the Government Street side, Starbuck's on the Yates Street side (1301-1303 Government). Owned by W.B. McLay Investments Ltd., Bruce McLay's development company, which also owns the building housing Street clothiers.

60. The Gap building (1319 Government), recently sold to a Vancouver investor. The building was a faceless office complex until previous owners Randy Holt and Rick Tanner bought it in 1994, tore it down and put in a new building specifically designed for Gap use.

61. The new home of Bryan's ladies wear as well as Hush, the latest incarnation of the gay bar formerly known as Rumours. Local company Wing Lee Holdings Ltd. owns the building (1325-1327 Government); president is John Cheung.

62. Site of the tony Designhouse furniture store and more (614- 618 Yates). Another building in Loula Mearns' downtown collection. She also owns the building next door, from which Leather World operates.

63. All Shukry Regep wanted was to run his restaurant. But nine years after he started up Ivanhoe's, his landlord told him he was selling the building at 1312-1314 Government and Regep would have to leave.

So Regep bought the building.

That was 21 years ago. Soon after, he moved to the storefront next door (in the same building) and opened Sweet Memories, still a busy little ice cream parlour that prides itself on being the first to bring waffle cones to Victoria.

Various restaurants have passed through the Ivanhoe space in the years since. Siam was the most recent, but it too has moved on and the storefront is currently empty.

Regep would have plenty of room for more tenants if that interested him: the building was constructed in 1895 as the three- storey, 30-room New England Hotel. But the fire inspectors shut down his upper floors 20 years ago, and he has since gutted them.

"I talked to UVic a while ago about taking them for student dorms," says Regep, who was pointed in the university's direction by the late Michael Williams. "I told them that if they fixed them up, they could have them. But they said it wasn't in their mandate."

The city gives heritage building owners a 10-year tax holiday if they convert their upper floors to residential use, but Regep notes he first has to come up with the money for mandatory seismic upgrades.

"By the time I made any money on it, I'd be too old to enjoy it," he says. "Besides, I'm quite happy with my ice cream parlour. I love this business."

64. Cowichan Trading Company (1320-1328 Government). The building was part of the Worthington estate and now belongs to Victoria Aver, Barrie Newman, John Worthington and other heirs.

65. The late Michael Williams did much to enliven weary buildings in Victoria's Old Town, including this one, the Paperbox Building (555-563 Johnson).

Williams willed this building and others in his downtown portfolio to the University of Victoria, which is waiting until Williams' will is probated before commenting on its plans for the properties.

66. Another Michael Williams holding (541-545 Johnson), this one housing Colonial Metropole and a dog-treat bakery, among others.

67. This building at 546 Yates is currently being leased by the Capital Regional District, but the regional district may not need all that space after buying the old police station on Fisgard Street from the City of Victoria. The company that owns the building is headed by local lawyer Ronald Lou-Poy, also involved in other downtown properties.

68. Capital Regional District headquarters (524 Yates). The CRD owns the building and is expected to keep its headquarters there despite its recent purchase of the old police station. The police building is needed just to amalgamate the far-flung offices of various CRD departments that no longer fit into Yates Street office space. Once the police station is ready to go, the CRD will temporarily relocate its headquarters there to allow for seismic upgrading at its Yates Street heritage brick building.

69. The boarded-up building doesn't look like much. In fact, I missed it the first time I cruised through Waddington Alley looking for it, wrongly assuming that it was a continuation of the Capital Regional District office on Yates Street.

But the old Morley Soda Water factory is local building owner C.B. Kramer's favourite one, the one she's most likely to still look at from time to time through the window of the CRD's second-floor coffee room.

Adjacent to Il Terrazzo restaurant, the building was constructed in 1884. There's a passageway through it big enough for horse-drawn carriages, which used to pull up inside to await their load of soda. But that was a long time ago; the building has been empty for decades.

Kramer's father-in-law bought the Morley building and two other downtown properties 51 years ago for storage space. She inherited them, and is now planning to lease them out after years of letting them sit.

She still has no interest in selling the buildings. "It's not a sentimental thing, but they'll remain in the family," says Kramer.

That could make it tougher to find tenants. Nobody is eager to put money into a project that they have no equity in. And all three of Kramer's buildings will need substantial investment before they're habitable.

Kramer isn't worried. "I've had plans for them once or twice since I became the lucky owner of them, and I think they'll be fine," she says. "One of these days, they'll be looking very nice. I'm sure of that."

70. Another C.B. Kramer holding, owned by her and her two daughters under the company name Sky Blue Properties Ltd. The two Northern Junk buildings are the mauve structures just down the way from the Provincial Capital Commission-owned Reeson Park. They've gone unused since 1978.

71. The Janion Building. C.B. Kramer owns this one too. The building was constructed as the luxurious Janion Hotel in 1891 and touted as one of the first in the city to have electricity. But its life as a hotel ended just four years later, and it went through various incarnations before being boarded up in 1948. Kramer's father bought the old hotel 51 years ago for storage space.

72. Swan's Hotel and Pub (506 Pandora), another in the Michael Williams collection. Like the rest of his downtown properties, it was left to the University of Victoria after Williams' death while travelling to England earlier this year.

73. The City of Victoria has been trying for years to sell this parking lot and dilapidated building next door, once a Buckerfield's store. But there were no takers until the city decided to quit demanding of prospective purchasers that they include a parkade in their plans.

Former Vancouver Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths is now negotiating with the city to buy both the building and the parking lot, although nothing will be final for another six months. Griffiths' plans for the site include a small hotel, retail and residential.

74. A scruffy building just up the street from Swan's Pub owned by the Young Hoy Sun Ning Benevolent Association. There's currently no retail operating out of the building, which is largely boarded up.

In contrast to the rest of the downtown, many of the properties in the Chinatown area are owned by non-profit societies, a practice that began in the early days of the city when people were immigrating from China to work on the railway and in the mines. The fraternal groups weren't specifically formed to hold property; people joined them for social and political reasons. But the organizations nonetheless allowed members to collect the kind of money needed to buy property, something that was out of reach for individual Chinese immigrants in those days.

75. The old B.C. Produce building on Pandora, owned by Victoria developer Gerald Hartwig, is slated for a fixup. Hartwig plans a mix of retail and residential. Hartwig also owns buildings on Fisgard and View streets, as well as one at the corner of Pembroke and Government streets. Hartwig's father Hans built Nootka Court at the corner of Humboldt and Douglas streets.

 

 

So many of theses have changed hands since!


“To understand cities, we have to deal outright with combinations or mixtures of uses, not separate uses, as the essential phenomena.”
- Jane Jacobs 


#17 Nparker

Nparker
  • Member
  • 16,041 posts

Posted 24 August 2017 - 06:01 PM

...The Provincial Capital Commission has been wanting to do something about its Belleville Street ferry terminal for years. And now it will have the chance. Victoria city council recently approved a rezoning application from the PCC that clears the way for a massive redevelopment of the terminal, home to the Black Ball ferry that travels between Victoria and Port Angeles, Wash.


"Getting the whole property rezoned was quite a coup, because it allows us to think how to use the whole property to enhance people's arrival," says PCC executive director Larry Beres. The biggest change will be a sideways extension of Belleville Street into a mini-park, which will double as a roof to hide the vehicles below waiting for the ferry. Pedestrians will be able to walk much closer to the water and without a large expanse of asphalt to foul the view.

 

Construction on the terminal will likely begin in November, with completion expected to take a couple of years. Once it's finished, the Clipper -- a passenger ferry to Seattle -- will also relocate to the new terminal from its federally owned dock next door...

16 years later and other than renovations to the Steamship building, a revamped "Belleville Terminal" remains only a dream. I have lived in the CRD for almost 40 years and I don't recall a time when upgrading this area wasn't part of the local zeitgeist. I would be willing to bet this area won't see any significant changes in my lifetime. There will continue to be lots of "design concepts" presented and the inevitable public input will take place, but as far as a proper waterfront terminal being built to welcome visitors to the capital of the Province, I remain unconvinced.

 



#18 G-Man

G-Man

    Senior Case Officer

  • Moderator
  • 11,767 posts

Posted 27 August 2017 - 10:20 AM

Moving the Coho terminal from Wharf Street must have been a pretty big deal I would guess. Hopefully it will be as dramatic when it does finally happen. 


Visit my blog at: https://www.sidewalkingvictoria.com 

 

It has a whole new look!

 


#19 Hotel Mike

Hotel Mike

    Hotel Mike

  • Member
  • 1,381 posts

Posted 27 August 2017 - 03:36 PM

I'm an optimist Nparker, and though it may still take a few years, I believe something will be built that will be a Belleville Terminal in some form. You and I have been in Victoria a comparable length of time. Could you have imagined the development on the Songhees, and on the other side, The Reef and Shoal Point in James Bay? Downtown has few parking lots left and they may soon disappear with the frantic pace of construction.

 

My point is that what seemed far off 25-30 years ago has come to pass. Eventually they have to fix the terminal. Phase 2, which is the beautification of the sidewalk and plaza on the north side, is set to get going this autumn. It's fully funded I believe. There is a phase 3 plan...it just doesn't have the funding, yet. For the moment at least, we now have a BC premier, Minister of Finance, Agriculture Minister, Education Minister, Transportation Minister...have I missed any? You think they can afford to turn deaf ears to the plaintive cries of the tourism industry and local business? Have faith. It will happen.


Don't be so sure.:cool:

#20 Nparker

Nparker
  • Member
  • 16,041 posts

Posted 27 August 2017 - 04:05 PM

...we now have a BC premier, Minister of Finance, Agriculture Minister, Education Minister, Transportation Minister...You think they can afford to turn deaf ears to the plaintive cries of the tourism industry and local business?...

In a word: Yes. For evidence I give you October 1991-May 2001

 

The main difference between the successful projects you mention (although I'd question much of the aesthetic and the complete lack of vitality in the Songhees) is they are all private developments. The Belleville Terminal is in the public realm and that is an entirely different ball game. For further evidence see: Ship Point, the lower Wharf Street parking lots, the Ogden Point cruise ship "terminal", and the laughable David Foster Walkway. When public realm projects finally move out of the concept phase what do we get? The Johnson Street Bridge. One of the only examples I can think of for a recent, well-executed, local public realm project is Fisherman's Wharf Park and that is hardly on the same scale as a new Belleville Terminal. I wish I could share your confidence, but I see little reason to be optimistic.



You're not quite at the end of this discussion topic!

Use the page links at the lower-left to go to the next page to read additional posts.
 



0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users