ANNOUNCED IN JUNE 2020 as the winning proposal for the City-owned “Apex Lot” on Douglas Street at Humboldt, Telus proposes to build an 11-storey largely glass-clad office building complex. It will become the telecommunication company’s regional headquarters, housing about 250 Telus employees on two floors with other floors leased, as well as making two uppermost levels available to local groups and organizations for community events. A rooftop space on what will technically be the 11th floor will also be available as an amenity. Underground parking for 127 cars and the same number of bicycles will be provided. Construction could begin as early as summer 2021, with a completion date of 2024.
Touted as the Capital’s most environmentally sustainable construction project, it will meet or exceed Step 2 of the BC Energy Step Code, employ low carbon, passive design and energy recovery systems, as well as harvest and recycle rainwater. Recent revisions to the design, after some City staff feedback, include reducing the glazed surfaces in order to reduce glare, bird collisions and heat loss. It has also repositioned the Telus logo from the apex of the building to just above street level.
Neighbours in nearby buildings have expressed concerns around privacy, so the additional opaque panels may address some of those complaints. Others have complained that the building is not iconic enough, partly because the City of Victoria requested the building not be visible behind the Empress from the Inner Harbour, thereby significantly limiting its height.
Telus purchased the property for $8.1 million, plus up to $1.1 million price adjustment depending on final proposal approved during rezoning process. The City will contribute $2.37 million (half of the budgeted total) for environmental and geotechnical costs to remediate the site. Telus will assume all liability for this work.
Luke Mari of Aryze Developments, which is acting as Telus’ community development partner, has said the triangular shape of the 28,000 square foot lot, Telus’s exacting standards for environmental performance and high-end materials, the close proximity of existing buildings, and the fact the land is contaminated fill (it was created in the early 1900s during the infilling of James Bay), make for a challenging, complex project.