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February 22, 2006

Arhitecture

High-calibre WaterFall pours life into Victoria

Design emphasizes public green space

VICTORIA

Victoria’s historic downtown is having new life poured into it by way of The WaterFall. The Westbank development is a 19-storey, 156-suite residential complex, anchored by a retail podium.

Situated in the heart of downtown Victoria, the $63-million complex will be completed in 2007.

What differentiates the WaterFall from the many other mixed-use developments across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island is, in fact, several waterfalls that culminate in a public art space at ground level.

The WaterFall condominium development in downtown Victoria is set to revitalize a long-neglected section of the city’s historic centre. The project is set for completion in 2007.

“It raises the bar considerably in terms of architecture, and it’s quite unique,” said Westbank project manager Bob Pearce.

“It isn’t just one waterfall over the side of the building. It’s a series of waterfalls cascading across the buildings and ending up in a public space on Humboldt and Douglas streets.”

He added that while the building’s visual component was impressive, noise generated by the waterfalls would be minimal.

Pearce said the location, set diagonally across the street from the Empress Hotel, was a space the city has been longing to fill for years.

He added the WaterFall project would be of high caliber enough to complement the immediate surroundings.

“The city wants more residential development downtown, and this was a permanent site they had wanted to develop for a long time,” Pearce said.

Previously, a parking lot had occupied the space, he said, which was “precisely what you don’t want in that location” on a road central to downtown Victoria.

He added the space also remained vacant for long stretches of time, though various developers had intermittently attempted to start projects.

Pearce said the development’s design emphasizes green space surrounding the building in order to reflect Victoria’s natural environment and enhance the public space component of the area.

He added all the extra work involved in building the condominium to such a high standard comes at a price.

“By its nature, it’ll be an expensive bit of construction but the site warrants that.”

Pearce noted the recent shuttering of the Bambu development, another high-end condo project in downtown Victoria, was a concern not only to Westbank, but to the industry as a whole.

“The Bambu situation is a concern, but we’re not worried about our own project. It is confirming what everyone should know about the current state of the marketplace. On the one hand, the marketplace is strong, but on the other, costs are getting harder to manage.”

He added the current situation meant that while developers no longer have free reign in terms of spending, the WaterFall project had a good handle on construction costs and would not run into the financial problems that plagued Bambu.

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