After over 40 years of sitting vacant, the Northern Junk buildings along the inner harbour could have a new lease on life.
In a 5-4 vote, Victoria councillors have approved a proposal to rehabilitate the two 1860s-era warehouses.
Reliance Properties purchased the properties in 2010 and have been trying to redevelop the site for the last 11 years but ran opposition from heritage advocates since.
Plans for the redevelopment include mixed rental and commercial property with 47 rental homes and 9,000 square feet of business and space for a restaurant.
The original facades, interiors, and structural walls of the buildings would remain, according to Reliance. The David Foster Walkway would also be extended by Reliance and would include a public-access elevator to the waterfront.
The front of the buildings will be restored.
Councillors Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Ben Isitt, Sharmarke Dubow, and Geoff Young voted against the project while the others voted in favour.
“We are relieved that Victoria City Council finally approved the rezoning and heritage alteration of Northern Junk, two historic warehouses that have sat vacant for 43 years,” said Jon Stovell, President & CEO, Reliance Properties.
“When Reliance Properties bought the Northern Junk site in 2010, it surprised and saddened us to know that the buildings had languished under the previous ownership since 1978,” said Stovell.
“What we didn’t realize is that it would take us a full decade of designs and redesigns, community consultation, and city processes to get to a point where we can save these waterfront gems from permanent ruin. Thankfully, we can now begin to bring Northern Junk back to relevant use for future generations.”