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CANCELLED
Johnson Street Gateway
Uses: condo, commercial
Address: 1314-1324 Wharf Street
Municipality: Victoria
Region: Downtown Victoria
Storeys: 8
Condo units: 103 (studio/bachelor, 1BR, 2BR, 3BR, penthouse, live-work)
Sales status: in planning
The eight-storey Johnson Street Gateway/Northern Junk condominium and ground floor commercial development is c... (view full profile)
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[Downtown Victoria] Johnson Street Gateway (Northern Junk) | condos; commercial | 7-storeys | Cancelled in 2019

Condo Commercial

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#61 Peter_S

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 11:46 AM

The Marina shown on the model is an existing public marina owned by the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. It is shown with new and improved docks but this existing marina remains in public hands and is proposed to have improved access through the public areas of the proposed development.

#62 smably

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 11:46 AM

You think the pedestrians in the area would rather have a view of a couple of derelict buildings and a parking lot? Seriously?!

And traffic, in downtown? That would be terrible! Maybe we should accommodate population growth by cutting down forests in Langford and Sooke. Or by just not building any more housing and hoping the existing stock will magically become affordable.

Here's the letter, for everyone's reading pleasure: http://www.timescolo...1225/story.html

#63 gumgum

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 12:38 PM

This project will not increase traffic.
If that were the case the Humbolt valley would be filled with gridlock.

#64 D.L.

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 12:43 PM

From that letter to the TC:

...the proposed development will block our building views...


As can be seen in this aerial photo, the proposed building will hardly be visable from the Leiser Building, as the view of it (and the harbour) are already blocked by the Salvation Army building. A majority of the actual harbour views from the Leiser Building are out over the park (which is being retained) to the south of the proposed building. Views of the harbour, or anything else, from the Leiser Building will hardly be affected by the proposed building.


...is anyone thinking of the huge traffic and other livability impacts of 48 new units?


What about the "huge traffic and other livability impacts" of her own building, which was recently been converted to residentil use?

#65 D.L.

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 12:48 PM

The city sells a developer a downtown park in Old Town for a development right on the waterfront.


The grassy area on which this development is proposed is not a designated park. It is a traffic island.

#66 D.L.

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 01:00 PM

Gotta love this photo from the TC. There's the Leiser Building in the background, just above the Northern Junk buildings. Views affected at all? Nope. (the Salvation Army building is directly behind the new building)


Photograph by: Courtesy Merrick Architecture Borowski Sakumoto Fligg Ltd., timescolonist.com

#67 Marilyn

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 01:49 PM

You think the pedestrians in the area would rather have a view of a couple of derelict buildings and a parking lot? Seriously?!

And traffic, in downtown? That would be terrible! Maybe we should accommodate population growth by cutting down forests in Langford and Sooke. Or by just not building any more housing and hoping the existing stock will magically become affordable.

Here's the letter, for everyone's reading pleasure: http://www.timescolo...1225/story.html

The two old buildings are a prop for the developer to give the public a false either-or choice. Just as you said "would you rather have a view of a couple of derelict buildings?" As if this development is the only other option.

The traffic island is a "green space" a term that seems to arouse a lot of derision, but whatever you want to call it, it's green. In return the public gets a narrow side-walk on the water side of the condo.

The view of the water will be blocked for pedestrians and people who take buses. As for the view from the Leiser Building, not everyone lives on the top floor.

Traffic around the condos will be increased, with 48 homes there's a possibility for 48 cars plus visiting and delivery vehicles. Obviously traffic is a major problem in that area because of the bridge. It should be considered seriously since one of the city planners said that Victoria does not have the space for one more car, about two years ago.

The design does not flow with the rest of the harbour, with the rest of Old Town. Take a look at Old Montreal, new buildings were only permitted as peripheral projects. This allows the public to walk around and enjoy a sense of history -of how it used to be. Once we take that ambience away, we can't get it back.

#68 D.L.

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 02:06 PM

In 100 years this will be a historical building. Ever think of it that way?

#69 Bingo

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 02:16 PM

In 100 years this will be a historical building. Ever think of it that way?


I don't know why we have to look at items like buildings and bridges as being designed for the next 100 years. At the current rate of technological change, most things are going to outlive their usefullness long before that.

#70 jklymak

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 03:37 PM

In 100 years this will be a historical building. Ever think of it that way?


Well, thats the goal I'd like to see set for it. Not sure I see that in the models shown for the current design though.

WRT to keeping the "green" space, I find that space to be pretty marred by the roads that its not really an amenity to the city in any substantial way. If its truly a nice building, I think it'll add rather than subtract from the city scape. Lets just make sure its a really nice building.

And I guess I just don't buy the idea that a 5-storey building on Victoria's inner harbour can't be quality and profitable. Yes, it will be expensive per square foot, but I imagine the quality of the location can support that.

#71 yodsaker

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 04:26 PM

Its a transition area mainly given over to vehicles at this time.
Ever walk there? Its a pedestrian pain with roadways at odd angles and lane-use changes that confuse motorists, making a bit of a spaghetti junction.
And its hardly an aesthetic marvel that draws sightseers, photographers and Sunday painters with its grand views of an ugly bridge and the visual delights of Rock Bay as a backdrop.
Someone's views will be blocked? We feel their pain. They have their view and everyone else can stuff it, right?

#72 Bernard

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 05:55 PM

Looking at this development in the context of the area, I am concerned that is another new building that breaks the flow of the old town up to Market Square and Chinatown. The Sally Ann building and the butt ugly hotel on the water are already significant breaks to the flow, would this new build simply not add to that?

This, along with a new bridge, isolates the northwest corner of Old Town more than ever.

Should the City Council be looking for a design that is more harmonious with the look and feel of Old Town? Is that even a realistic thing to ask and not have it look like some Disneyeque pastiche of bland puke?

On a gut level I like the look of the building, but not in this location.

#73 aastra

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:00 PM

The traffic island is a "green space" a term that seems to arouse a lot of derision, but whatever you want to call it, it's green. In return the public gets a narrow side-walk on the water side of the condo.


I think people deride it because it deserves to be derided in this instance. A traffic island is not -- nor should it ever be considered to be -- green space. Traffic islands are inaccessible, there's no way for anyone to utilize or enjoy them... I'm reminded of Rachel Carson's concern that the shoulders of busy roads should be arbitrarily greened. Why? So motorists can feel better about themselves as they drive by? It's silly.

The view for pedestrians would not be blocked . In fact, the new walkway and terraces and such should (if done well) produce an enjoyable walking experience and enable views that currently do not exist.

It should be considered seriously since one of the city planners said that Victoria does not have the space for one more car, about two years ago.


It's very difficult to consider that claim seriously. Are the streets of Victoria gridlocked 24 hours per day? Is it impossible to park on the street? Is it impossible to find a space in a surface lot or parkade? Not even close. You could add 50,000 people into the core and it still wouldn't be anywhere close to that.

This allows the public to walk around and enjoy a sense of history -of how it used to be. Once we take that ambience away, we can't get it back.


But that sort of ambiance does not exist now in the immediate vicinity of the Northern Junk buildings. Parking lots, empty lots, and abandoned, neglected buildings do not constitute a positive historical ambiance. They simply do not.

Consider: there are several less-than-ideal modern buildings in that area, and some of them are quite large. The Regent Hotel, the Salvation Army's building, and the Yates Street parkade are the most obvious ones, I think. If a pleasant historical ambience still exists after the insertion of these buildings (and the destruction of the historic buildings that they replaced) then what the heck are we even worried about? Does a smallish and not unattractive new building -- one that won't displace or destroy any historical buildings -- really represent some sort of menace that those other buildings didn't/don't?

Why do so many Victorians seem to dread the revitalization and re-utilization of historic buildings above all else? I just don't get it.

#74 aastra

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:03 PM

This, along with a new bridge, isolates the northwest corner of Old Town more than ever.

How do you figure? For the first time in a very long time there will actually be legitimate uses in that area. People will actually have reasons to go there and to be there (and not just reasons to pass by on their way to somewhere else).

I'd say that area should be significantly less isolated after this project is done. Do a similar thing around the Janion and link north and south with a walkway under the bridge entrance and voila, isolation no more.

#75 Bernard

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:05 PM

Is there a way to make this new development complement and not detract from the look and feel of the Old Town? I am not a designer so I can not design it, though I know what I see and does not work and this design does not seem to achieve what I would ideally like to see.

Ultimately why bother keeping the old buildings in the context of this development as proposed?

#76 aastra

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:07 PM

The Regent Hotel, the Salvation Army's building, and the Yates Street parkade are the most obvious ones, I think. If a pleasant historical ambience still exists after the insertion of these buildings (and the destruction of the historic buildings that they replaced) then what the heck are we even worried about?


Not to mention the Wharf Street parking lots. Historical ambiance eliminated, and replaced with... nothing.

#77 Bernard

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:11 PM

Not to mention the Wharf Street parking lots. Historical ambiance eliminated, and replaced with... nothing.


Ahh! But is this not historical nothing? Removing the 19th century new builds and replacing with 17th century nothing!

#78 aastra

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:25 PM

Is there a way to make this new development complement and not detract from the look and feel of the Old Town? I am not a designer so I can not design it, though I know what I see and does not work and this design does not seem to achieve what I would ideally like to see.

I think this is a fair question. However, I'm not sure you'd ever be able to get even a handful of people to agree about what does/does not work in the Old Town. The Salvation Army's building was supposed to have been a contextual triumph. I'd say it's a bit better than a total disaster. Same thing for that office building on the parking lot behind Market Square.

I'm not sure how I feel about the design of this proposed building. It seems very Selkirk-y to me, but I think I was expecting something more City Place-ish (but with a tall commercial ground floor that fits with the Old Town... they seem to have gotten that part right at least).

Then again, the Selkirk esthetic is leagues better than the esthetic of the Salvation Army's building or the Regent Hotel or the Yates Street parkade. So I don't agree that the look of this building will detract from the Old town. But I do agree that it won't do much to mitigate the negative effects of the Salvation Army's building or the Regent Hotel, which is maybe what I was hoping for.

What do we all think about the addition on top of Morley's Soda Water Factory? It's the sort of thing the city seems to want and yet I'd say it's a greater misfit style-wise than the Harbour Square complex.

Ultimately why bother keeping the old buildings in the context of this development as proposed?

Another good question. My two cents: Victoria needs to start embracing alternatives to outright destruction, in whatever form those alternatives happen to take. Placing a new building in the company of the old buildings is fine by me in this instance, even though I'd prefer new developments to be more fully integrated into the old buildings that they're revitalizing/renovating.

In the case of the Janion I hope to see new buildings on either side of it that are fully connected and integrated with the old building. Will it happen? No idea. We've only recently gained confidence that anything will happen with the Janion other than outright destruction, yes?

#79 smably

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 06:53 PM

The two old buildings are a prop for the developer to give the public a false either-or choice. Just as you said "would you rather have a view of a couple of derelict buildings?" As if this development is the only other option.

As I understand it, restoring heritage buildings is quite a risky proposition. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a developer willing to take on a project like the redevelopment of the Northern Junk buildings without adding significant density in a new building. I'm not entirely sold on the design of the new building, but the fact that it brings more residents downtown and allows two heritage buildings to be restored outweighs any quibbles I have with how it looks.

You have to ask yourself: If you told the developer they had to lop off a storey or two, would the project still make economic sense? Would you end up with a better view, or would you end up with a parking lot and two derelict buildings for five, ten more years? Is it worth the risk?

I have sympathy for questions of design: Is it well integrated with the existing buildings? Does it promote a lively street with good pedestrian traffic flow? Is it aesthetically pleasing? Those are open questions. But questioning this development on the basis of traffic is ridiculous. It's 48 units! In a city! Please!

#80 Bingo

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 07:00 PM

Where does the E&N station fit into this development? If the new bridge is built with the rail on the south side of the vehicle lanes, the design shows the station relocated to that area.

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