I guess Caledonia starts after Douglas street, for some reason I always thought it was Chatham up until Blanshard, then Caledonia. A quick check of Sopranos website does indeed confirm that the block is Caledonia.
I hope we don't end up referring to this as the "Oh Well". There is great potential in this site, the mix of residential, retail, office, recreational and parking space is exciting, but thus far the actual design of the buildings leaves a little to be desired.
Vic News article:
Planned development signals change
By Brennan Clarke
Jul 28 2006
Density of “The Well” proposal debated; city plan criticized as out of date
The transformation of an entire city block in downtown Victoria moved one step closer to reality after a contentious debate by Victoria city councillors over plans for a massive development known as The Well.
The proposal, including 84 residential units, 17,000 square metres of office space, 300 underground parking spaces, a pub, a fitness facility and a daycare, is slated for the block bordered by Blanshard, Douglas, Caledonia and Herald streets.
In most aspects the plans were well-received, with planning staff noting the proposal “is consistent with” current city policies.
However, some councillors were troubled by the developer’s request for an estimated 60 per cent increase in density on the site.
Coun. Pam Madoff complained that the city’s downtown plan, which addresses building height and density in the downtown core, is more than a decade old and no longer reflects downtown’s needs.
“What we are doing is designing a house one room at a time, and when you do it that way you have no idea what you’re going to end up with,” Madoff said. “I don’t think it’s good enough to say this is one person’s vision. It’s not good enough to plan this city one site at a time,”
Coun. Geoff Young agreed that city policies are falling behind the times but said council can’t stop doing business until city planners complete an update of the downtown plan.
“Tabling (the application) for two years is not feasible. Tabling it for two weeks will do no good,” Young observed.
Despite the extra density, none of the buildings proposed for The Well exceed the city’s 43-metre height limit.
Yet The Well, coupled with a trio of over-height highrises planned for the former Hudson’s Bay Company lot across the street, heralds a major makeover of the city’s North End.
Coun. Sonya Chandler said the success or failure of those changes will be largely governed by the effectiveness of city policies.
“This is the beginning of some really big changes in our downtown,” Chandler said. “The more work we do up front, the more likely it is we’re going to be happy with the results.”
Peter Laughlin of Wessex Project Management, the company handling the application on behalf of Ontario-based Principal Holdings Inc., said the density issue needs to be considered in the context of all the public amenities that have been included in the project.
“It’s about creating a comprehensive development project,” Laughlin said. “We recognize the city is at a crossroads and we feel the density we’re asking for is justified by the amenity package we’re proposing.”
According to the application package submitted to council last week, those amenities include public open space, a mid-block walkway, $30,000 worth of public art, 400 underground parking spaces, “demonstrable benefit” in revitalizing Victoria’s North End and an affordable housing contribution of $1,000 per dwelling unit.
Laughlin said another benefit of The Well will be the vast amount of new office space, something few developers in Victoria have attempted in recent years.
Initially plans called for the YW-YMCA to move into The Well, but “Y” officials said last week they have decided to opt out. However the project will include a substantial health and wellness centre.
Laughlin said the area slated for a new pool for the YM-YWCA may be turned into an amphitheatre instead.
The Jack Davis building, at the corner of Herald and Blanshard streets, is not part of the proposal. Neither is a series of lowrise storefronts at the corner of Caledonia and Douglas streets that includes a small grocery store and a Red Hot Video outlet.
Robert Randall, head of the Downtown Residents Association said the project is a welcome bit of revitalization.
“It’s going to take density to bring downtown alive again and that’s where the density has to go,” Randall said, noting that the Douglas Street side of the property is home to an adult movie store.
“I’ve yet to meet anyone who says ‘let’s keep that Red Hot Video vibe alive.’”
The North Park Neighbourhood Association and the Burnside-Gorge Neighbourhood Association have also lent their seal of approval to the project.
Thursday’s debate ended with council voting to send the proposal to a public hearing.