Developments reveal plans for office tower on Apex Site 

TELUS Communications Inc. intends to bring the TELUS Ocean project to Victoria, as part of an acquisition of the “Apex” site, a parcel of City-owned land at 749‑767 Douglas Street, on the corner of Douglas and Humboldt Streets.

The proposed commercial office and retail building will become TELUS’s regional headquarters for approximately 250 employees and home to an innovation hub that will showcase advanced communications and information technology. As a leading international employer, the ability to secure TELUS’s regional headquarters and innovation centre in the downtown core will also help support the growth of family sustaining jobs in Victoria.

TELUS brings past experience in the successful implementation of their commercial office projects across the country. Examples ofTELUSoffice developments in other key Canadian cities, including Vancouver’s TELUSGarden, showcase the architecturally-advanced and environmentally-sustainable building design that will characterize this new project.

TELUS’s operations will occupy a significant portion of the building, with the remainder of the space proposed for commercial office, retail and restaurants, as well as programmed events and gatherings.

TELUS is working with Victoria-based Aryze Developments as a community development partner. The Aryze project team will lead the project architect and consultant teams, and ensure the initiative progresses in alignment with the shared goals of the community and TELUS, as well as the City of Victoria’s goals reflected in its competitive proposal process.

Together, TELUS and Aryze are seeking to bring forward an architecturally-significant project; one that will create an opportunity for Victoria to be at the forefront of new technology and contribute to the social and entrepreneurial fabric of the city. To ensure this, the TELUS/Aryze project team is proposing to employ a multi-channel consultation approach to communications and engagement to reach a broad range of participants, including surrounding businesses, residents, potential future occupants and other key stakeholders. It is anticipated that this community engagement process will begin in late June 2020.

This agreement completes a competitive proposal process for the Apex site launched by the City of Victoria in early 2017. Of the six submissions received, the TELUS Ocean proposal scored highest.

The City’s main goal was a major commercial development that would anchor the southern end of Douglas Street and advance one or more of the City’s key economic engines, such as technology and innovation, create high-value jobs and diversify the economy. High-quality architectural and sustainable design appropriate for this prominent location and surrounding neighbourhood were among other goals sought.

In addition to enhancing and animating the adjoining public plaza, the development is anticipated to create new opportunities for the Victoria Conference Centre and surrounding downtown businesses.

TELUS has agreed to purchase the property from the City of Victoria for a price of $8.1 million, plus up to an additional $1.1 million purchase price adjustment depending on the final proposal submitted and approved as part of the rezoning process. Telus and the City of Victoria will share in the environmental and geotechnical costs to remediate the site, with the City contributing $2.37 million towards its portion of these costs. In exchange for the City’s contribution, TELUS will assume all liability and responsibility for the environmental remediation of the site.

The proceeds from the sale will be held in the City’s Tax Sale Lands Reserve and will be used to fund actions in Victoria’s Strategic Plan, including acquiring land for affordable housing. In addition, this all-commercial development will provide significant annual property tax revenue to the City to help fund City programs and services including, among other things, improvements to the downtown public realm allocated through the City’s annual budget process.

The sale of the property is subject to TELUS applying for rezoning within 18 months of executing the agreement, and TELUS then successfully bringing the TELUS Oceanproject through the City’s formal land use approval process and advancing it to the permitting stage within specific periods of time.

Located on the southeast corner of Douglas and Humboldt Streets, the City’s Apex site is a 27,790 square-foot triangular vacant parcel that was created as part of the original infilling of James Bay in the early 1900’s. The site was home to a furniture manufacturer for a number of years and then a large-scale laundry plant, before the buildings were removed and the site paved. Two car rental companies currently operate on the property.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps:
“This significant investment by TELUS is a next generation project that helps bring the City’s draft recovery, reinvention and resilience plan, Victoria 3.0 to life. TELUS Ocean will help us to build a stronger, more resilient economy. It is another example of the confidence leading companies are showing in moving to Victoria or expanding their operations here. This major new business and innovation centre will create significant long-term economic and community benefits, pump added vitality and diversity into the heart of our downtown commercial district and support hundreds of new family-sustaining jobs. Additionally, the project is intended create a retail interface and tie into the shared public plaza space with the neighbouring Crystal Gardens, using high quality urban design principles to activate the portion of the plaza on the site creating a welcoming and vibrant area.

Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of TELUS:
“The TELUS team is tremendously proud of our longstanding history in British Columbia and we are thrilled to announce the development of TELUS Ocean, which will stand as a lasting symbol of our passionate commitment to the Victoria community, our customers and our team members. Exemplifying leading-edge design, our development will contribute significantly to Victoria’s economic strength, culture and social vitality. Notably, TELUS Ocean will inject millions of dollars into the community and create local, family-supporting jobs while showcasing TELUS’ advanced communications technologies and environmental innovation in a way never seen before in Victoria. Moreover, TELUS Ocean will enrich Victoria’s unique historical core with stunning, world-class architecture, and enhanced public spaces that create a truly welcoming destination for our team members, the community and indeed all British Columbians.” C

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