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APPROVED
Speed and Frances, west tower
Uses: condo, commercial
Address: 606 Speed Avenue
Municipality: Victoria
Region: Urban core
Storeys: 12
Condo units: 83 (loft, 1BR, 2BR)
Sales status: in planning
Speed and Frances, west tower, is a 12-storey residential building with 83 condos, six townhomes and ground fl... (view full profile)
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[Burnside/Gorge] Speed and Frances avenues | condos; commercial | 12- & 12-storeys | Approved


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255 replies to this topic

#41 Robb

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 03:45 PM

The planning department is recommending that the rezoning application be declined.

See the Planning agenda at http://www.victoria....2_03_agenda.pdf ...


Thanks for posting this BCguy75.

The right recommendation in my opinion.

Does anyone with experience in these things know what this means? Does the committee hear arguments for and against at their next meeting?

#42 Rob Randall

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 04:40 PM

IIRC, the committee is run like it was back in the Committee of the Whole era: Planing presents the proposal to the Committee. If planning recommends the proposal be declined, the developer gets a chance to respond, correct or clarify. Then the committee votes to send it to a full meeting of Council.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#43 aastra

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 06:56 PM

I don't think higher buildings around Mayfair Mall would be out of place at all. That 'Ross Place' building is not located downtown, but it's 10ish stories (going from memory, might be less). There are buildings in Oak Bay that are taller than this.

The tallest building in Oak Bay would be shorter than this proposed building by a few stories, and more importantly it's probably not even 2/3 as wide.

I know I'm beating a dead horse but the shape should be a much bigger concern than the sheer height. Slim buildings on small footprints like the Juliet or Corazon are highly preferable to very wide buildings like Harbour Towers or Bayview. I'm repeating myself, but it's all about shadowing, visual monotony, and blocked views.

View Towers' negatives would be exactly the same even if the building were two or three stories shorter or two or three stories taller. The sheer height of the place just isn't that big a factor when we're assessing how View Towers impacts its surroundings.

It's no contest as to which format has been the better fit on Victoria. Does anybody disagree on this point? Would you prefer a city full of buildings shaped like View Towers, Harbour Towers, Bayview, and the Tara Apartments or a city full of buildings shaped like the Juliet, Corazon, Astoria, First Island Financial, and the Oswego Hotel?

If you absolutely must do it wide then make a concession and include a cut-out, as they did with Aria, The Falls, and that Tillicum Mall proposal.

G-Man might say Victoria's overall population density would be a bit lower if the widescrapers had been slimmer. Sure, I agree, it would be. But we don't need to worry because the widescrapers weren't slimmer.

Summary: Victoria needs to drop the wide building fetish. I have nothing against the basic concept of this Speed/Frances proposal. Much of it looks better than I was expecting. But the main tower building is too wide.

#44 aastra

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 07:31 PM

So what would you Speeders think of something like this? The same footprint as 860 View on the Frances side but 10-12 stories tall, and a double-length 1030 Yates along Speed Ave., with a slight dip in the middle from 5 stories down to 4 (or maybe stepped down from 5 stories on the west end to 4 stories on the east end if that's preferable). All vehicle access off of Frances. Residents-only playground space tucked in between the tower portion and the lowrise portion. Rooftop common area on top of the tower. This would be a great configuration as far as I'm concerned. And since the taller building isn't super wide, the remaining properties on the block still have great potential.

That's another thing for density buffs to consider: what good is a high-density widescraper if the adjacent lots end up going undeveloped or underdeveloped precisely because the widescraper exists? (cough, View Towers) In the end you pulled off a lower overall density than you could have if only you had bothered to do it right in the first place. In other words, you can achieve a higher density and a much more comfortable situation for everyone if you do it Y-lot style instead of View Towers style.




#45 jonny

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 08:02 PM

The tallest building in Oak Bay would be shorter than this proposed building by a few stories, and more importantly it's probably not even 2/3 as wide.


What about this building:
View Larger Map">iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&source=embed&hl=en&geocode=&q=victoria+bc&aq=&sll=49.891235,-97.15369&sspn=23.430526,67.763672&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Victoria,+Capital+Regional+District,+British+Columbia&ll=48.428611,-123.365556&spn=0.00147,0.004136&t=h&z=14&layer=c&cbll=48.42391,-123.336799&panoid=Vg3ZGiABhxZnxYi_40xuRw&cbp=12,36.94,,1,-17.72&output=svembed">
View Larger Map

I know I'm beating a dead horse but the shape should be a much bigger concern than the sheer height. Slim buildings on small footprints like the Juliet or Corazon are highly preferable to very wide buildings like Harbour Towers or Bayview. I'm repeating myself, but it's all about shadowing, visual monotony, and blocked views.


Totally agree

View Towers' negatives would be exactly the same even if the building were two or three stories shorter or two or three stories taller. The sheer height of the place just isn't that big a factor when we're assessing how View Towers impacts its surroundings.


View Towers is just a big piece of garbage. Even if it wasn't so derelict it would still be awful. It could be a False Creek quality building and it would still be awful due to it's shape.

I don't think this proposal is anywhere near VT but I do see where you're coming from. The two elevations we've seen do look pretty good IMO.

It's no contest as to which format has been the better fit on Victoria. Does anybody disagree on this point? Would you prefer a city full of buildings shaped like View Towers, Harbour Towers, Bayview, and the Tara Apartments or a city full of buildings shaped like the Juliet, Corazon, Astoria, First Island Financial, and the Oswego Hotel?


The latter; those buildings are awesome.

I would assume that constructing two narrower towers would be more costly than one wide tower. Is that a realistic assumption? What if Tower 1 and Tower 2 were the same size (say 14 stories) but offset?

#46 aastra

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 08:10 PM

That really old highrise up on the hill in Rockland is called Camosack Manor. It's actually located in the city proper and not in Oak Bay. Edit: my memory doesn't serve me. I thought it was built in 1969 but it was actually built in 1967.

Oak Bay's tallest buildings are both on Beach Drive and I believe they're both 10 stories tall.

Yeah, I have no idea if my fantasy proposal for Speed Avenue is even viable. Somebody else might be able to enlighten us on this point.

#47 G-Man

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 08:22 PM

I think viability is the key to the discussion. If the developer can't get some magic FSR then it won't happen. Tall skinny buildings are expensive so they have to be really tall to compensate and I don't think that you could build a rental building tall enough to compensate for the cost.

Probably they could build a six storey building at 6:1 but that would leave some awkward shaped apartments.

#48 aastra

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 08:25 PM

If the widescraper format is the only way to make it viable then I can live with it not being viable.

Are we in a rush to redevelop this part of town? That's another question: what's our timeline? We're sure not in any rush in Harris Green or north downtown, so why should we be around Mayfair?

#49 G-Man

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 08:34 PM

Because we can actually build cheaper projects in this area. This format of project doesn't work downtown.

Also the city is actively preventing the build out of Harris Green. I mean they have turned down two huge projects in the last few months. So it seems the city's plan is that nothing is built anywhere.

#50 gumgum

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 09:50 PM

I hope you're wrong.

#51 Bernard

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 10:54 AM

I like the idea of a lot more density along Douglas of residential and commercial, it pulls downtown north and closer to the centre of the region. The problem is that the City has not clear idea of what it wants to do in this neighbourhood. I would love it if Saanich and Victoria took actions that would drive the car dealers out of this area ASAP. They take up a lot of land and provide very little in return. It is a waste of space to have any car dealers near the core of the city.

#52 Robb

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 11:41 AM

I like the idea of a lot more density along Douglas of residential and commercial, it pulls downtown north and closer to the centre of the region. The problem is that the City has not clear idea of what it wants to do in this neighbourhood. I would love it if Saanich and Victoria took actions that would drive the car dealers out of this area ASAP. They take up a lot of land and provide very little in return. It is a waste of space to have any car dealers near the core of the city.


Agreed.

The vacant Cornell Chev-Olds property at Douglas and Finlayson would be good for high-density commercial/residential as a start.

#53 G-Man

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 12:10 PM

I definitely think that this is a key spot for high density. I would lve to see a two or three tower complex here with either ground floor zero setback retail or a small mall.

If I were the developer I would go for a tallish (16 - 18 storey) building on the corner probably either office or hotel and then have perhaps an 8 storey and 4-6 storey residential as you went up the hill.

This a spot where the city could approve something that could set the area back 40 years.

#54 Nparker

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 12:24 PM

This is a spot where the city could approve something that could set the area back 40 years.


And sadly probably will. I like your ideas though G-man. :)

#55 aastra

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 03:02 PM

An unattractive widescraper could easily do that. View Towers did that.

#56 Bingo

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 03:52 PM

They take up a lot of land and provide very little in return. It is a waste of space to have any car dealers near the core of the city.


Like the lack of foresight that is allowing a car lot to go in west of the Johnson Street Bridge.

#57 G-Man

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Posted 01 February 2011 - 07:33 PM

An unattractive widescraper could easily do that. View Towers did that.


The problems of View Towers have little or nothing to do with its girth. If this were true then Shoal Point would have been a disaster.
The problems of View Towers are almost exclusively due to the poor ground floor interaction with the street scape.

I think you are going into strange territory in comparing this building to View Towers. It is 25 percent shorter. Already has some designs details visible in the picture. Is massed into two different buildings and while I have not seen the plan is at least sounding positive at this point with the ground floor interaction with townhomes on Speed Street and ground floor commercial on Frances.

How exactly is this building so much like View Towers?

#58 Bernard

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 08:49 AM

Like the lack of foresight that is allowing a car lot to go in west of the Johnson Street Bridge.


My bigger problem was with the new Volvo dealership at HIllside and Douglas, that corner needed a 6-8 story commercial development, not another car lot

#59 aastra

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 09:16 AM

The problems of View Towers have little or nothing to do with its girth. If this were true then Shoal Point would have been a disaster.
The problems of View Towers are almost exclusively due to the poor ground floor interaction with the street scape.

I think you are going into strange territory in comparing this building to View Towers. It is 25 percent shorter. Already has some designs details visible in the picture. Is massed into two different buildings and while I have not seen the plan is at least sounding positive at this point with the ground floor interaction with townhomes on Speed Street and ground floor commercial on Frances.

How exactly is this building so much like View Towers?


Are you kidding me?? I've got 7,000 plus posts on this board and another few thousand on SSP!

#60 aastra

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 09:58 AM

If I had to boil down everything I've ever posted into one little blurb, it would probably be something like this:

"Density is good, but the point shouldn't be to jam as many people as possible into every available space, all other concerns be damned. The point should be to increase density in an appealing and comfortable way, emphasizing the positive changes that increases in density can foster while also minimizing the negative changes typically associated with increases in density."

A widescraper loses a lot of points because:

- it block views,
- it creates very wide shadows,
- it's esthetically displeasing because of its sheer width and also because of the excessive repetition of elements across its width
- it impacts potential development on adjacent lots (because of all of the reasons already stated)

Widescrapers are NOT good spokesbuildings for the benefits of increased density. They simply are not.

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