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WaterFall development cascades into Victoria’s downtown

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by Journal Of Commerce

By Warren Frey

By Warren Frey

Staff Writer

A new building is pouring new life into Victoria’s historic downtown.

The WaterFall, a 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.

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

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

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

Pearce said the location, kitty-corner from the Empress Hotel in the heart of downtown Victoria, was a space the city had been longing to fill for years, and added the WaterFall project would be of a high enough quality to compliment 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 had also remained vacant for long stretches of time, though various developers had intermittently attempted to start projects on the site.

Pearce said the development’s design emphasized 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 came at a price.

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

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

“The Bambu situation is a concern, but we’re not worried about our own project. But 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,” Pearce said.

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 the Bambu project.

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