Reliance Properties Main Render Capital Iron
(rendering of the proposal | Reliance Properties)

A rezoning proposal for the Capital Iron Lands has placed a new home for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria at the centre of its plans.

Reliance Properties, along with architect D’Ambrosio Studio, say they submitted their application to the City this week for rezoning of the area between Chatham, Discovery, Government Street and the wharf.

If their application is approved, the rezoning would allow them to pursue a redevelopment which could include a new home for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV).

“At almost seven acres, Capital Iron Lands is one of Victoria’s largest development opportunities and we look forward to collaborating with the city and local communities to make the Arts & Innovation District a diverse hub of arts, culture, and technology,” said Jon Stovell, president and CEO of Reliance Properties.

The properties at Capital Iron Lands were bought by Reliance in 2020. Currently, the company says the area is largely undeveloped, with 93,000 square feet of commercial and retail space.

These developed spaces include three heritage buildings. Capital Iron, the nearly 90-year-old business which gives the land its namesake, occupies half of the built space.

New commercial, retail, and residential spaces

Reliance’s application primarily calls for allowances of commercial and retail spaces. Some limited residential spaces would be zoned above commercial areas, and there would be an allowance for light industrial activity at the wharf.

But the centrepiece of the pitch is a proposed new art gallery that would be built at the corner of Store and Discovery. This building would be owned and operated by the AGGV.

“For many years, we have been actively searching for a new building for the AGGV,” said Janyce Ronson, AGGV acting director.

“Working with Reliance Properties provides us with the possibility of that opportunity, subject to continued support from funders, donors and the community.”

In addition to the new gallery, several buildings of varying heights are proposed, the tallest of which would be 17 storeys and would include residential and commercial space.

Another 13-storey tower would contain living and working space for artists, and a 10-storey tower would be built for more residences and commercial space. The majority of the remaining buildings would be five storeys or less.

Reliance Properties Heights Capital Iron
(rendering showing heights of buildings in the proposal. Green numbers indicate storeys from Store Street, blue numbers indicate storeys from Discovery Lane | Reliance Properties)

The project, if approved, would likely proceed in a series of phases. The first phase would see the construction of the new, five-storey art gallery, along with the 13-storey live/work artist space and a five-storey industrial arts hub.

“The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is an anchor cultural institution in the region,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

“There have long been calls for it to move downtown. I can’t think of a better place than in the newly created Arts and Innovation District. I look forward to seeing this exciting rezoning opportunity come before Council.”

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