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Thursday » December 14 » 2006

Colwood Corners plan clears hurdle
Proposal, calling for eight buildings ranging up to 29 storeys, Judith Lavoie
Times Colonist
A massive plan to redevelop the centre of Colwood with a highrise hotel, shops, and apartment and office buildings up to 29 storeys squeaked through the city's planning and zoning committee.
The rezoning application by Les Bjola of Turner Lane Development Corp. for the 2.9 hectare Colwood Plaza site at Colwood Corners, bounded by Sooke Road, Jerome Road and Colwood Crescent, will go to council Monday.
Bjola told the committee Tuesday night he also bought the adjacent London Drugs property that afternoon and he will be looking for an integrated development. He said in an interview that planning for the London Drugs site is getting underway immediately, and would eventually mean relocating The first of the eight buildings Bjola hopes to construct at Colwood Plaza is a 12-storey hotel at the corner of Sooke Road and Colwood Crescent.
Carlson Hotels Worldwide is interested in operating the 80-room and 20- suite hotel as either a Radisson or a Park Lane, Bjola said.
"The hotel would take about 18 months to build and, in my perfect world I would like to get started in the summer of 2007 and open by Christmas of The next phase in the 15- to 20-year building program would be three four- storey assisted-living buildings on the Jerome Road/Galloping Goose Trail That would mean knocking down nine rental houses Bjola owns.
"The bulldozer would probably be doing them a great favour," he said.
The pedestrian-friendly development, which would require road realignments, would have two levels of underground parking, rooftop gardens, green buildings using solar power and wind energy, and (1 of 2)12/14/2006 9:50:15 AM A mixed-use building facing Sooke Road would be eight storeys, but controversy is already simmering over the three condominium buildings in the centre of the project. Bjola wants zoning for 29 storeys, even though the immediate plans call for 16, 20 and 24 storeys.
The compromise reached by the four committee members was for buildings fronting Sooke Road to be no higher than 15 storeys, no buildings beside the Galloping Goose to be more than four storeys and for buildings in the middle not to exceed 29 storeys and to be tiered, meaning only one could "This is the Official Community Plan on steroids," said Coun. Jason Nault, who voted against sending the proposal forward.
Coun. Ernie Robertson, chairman for the meeting, retorted, "I think this is the Official Community Plan on Viagra. It's a much-needed boost." The project cost is estimated at $500 million, with another $350 million for But the figure which made some eyes light up was Bjola's estimate of the dollars that would flow into Colwood coffers.
"There's over $3 million, if you count the property I bought today, in annual net taxes to the city. That's net -- after the province and school board have Robertson said the prospect of the taxes makes it difficult to delay the process until the Official Community Plan has been reviewed.
"We have an investor who's willing to put $3 million annually into Colwood coffers. I am not going to jeopardize that for a process," Robertson said.
However, the full tax benefits would not come until all parts of the project are built, and Bjola is also looking for a tax freeze on the properties until occupancy permits are issued and a five-year tax-free status for the hotel.
As the application goes through the council process, it is likely only five councillors will be voting on it. Coun. David Saunders and Mayor Jody Twa will probably absent themselves, as both have property interests in the area.
Copyright 2006 CanWest Interactive, a division of (2 of 2)12/14/2006 9:50:15 AM


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