A Celebration of The Livet

By virtue of its location, the northeast corner of Broughton Street and Blanshard Street has always had incredible potential. It’s right across from one of Victoria’s main theatres and borders one end of the Fort Common District; however, the building’s dated architecture and dormant state stagnated people’s use of the area. Last year we took on some vigorous renovations and our hard work was rewarded when we secured some amazing local businesses to tenant the buildings. We’re so pleased to introduce The Livet as one of our partners in bringing a sense of vibrancy, vitality and beauty to this once-neglected corner. 

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Owner of The Livet, Graham Meckling, shares our community-focussed vision, and says the restaurant’s culture is based around creating an all-around exceptional dining experience for Victoria. Most important, he notes, is that it’s a place you’re going to bring the people you love to hang out with, where you’ll enjoy a comfortable atmosphere, with delicious food and drink and friendly service. 

And can we mention the incredible patio? 

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The architecture and design team have created an outstanding location to house the restaurant. With a beautiful windowed stairway leading up to it and interior design elements of light wood and copper, their use of glass, lighting and warm tones has truly reinvented the old building. 

Externally they fused together heritage design and modern flavour, which helps to link the renovated building to the rest of our properties along the Blanshard corridor. It was so important to bring the overall neighbourhood context into the vision and the team’s outstanding work has added an interesting dynamism to the area.

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The remodeled building and home of The Livet truly embodies our values of people and planet in the design and we are so proud to be a part of turning this derelict corner of the city into a vibrant cultural hub.

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Location: 201 – 804 Broughton Street, Victoria, BC
Tenant: The Livet
Opened: August 2016
Key contributors:
Developer/Building Owner & Manager: Fort Properties
Architect: Cascadia Architects
Interior Designer: Bidgood + Co.
General Contractor: Strong Construction Group

Tenant Profile: Manna Farm & Elia Zanon

Elia Zanon, farmer of Manna Farm (at 2590 Sahilton Road) in the Cowichan Valley, is not only a steward of Fort Properties' farmland but she is also a steward of food security on Vancouver Island. With a variety of fruit and vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, nuts and grains, poultry, eggs and maple syrup (and plans for more to come in the future), Elia grows and raises local organic foods all year round. If she’s not at the farm, you’ll find her at the Duncan Farmers’ Market every Saturday.

Name: Manna Farm (Elia Zanon)
Type of service: Providing fresh, organic food!
Operating since: 2016
Number of staff: 3

I opened my business because … for so many reasons: I want to produce and provide clean, trustworthy, nutritious, truly organic food. I want to contribute to the protection of farmland and our greatest resource: soil. I want to treat the earth and its people the way they deserve. I want to work outside everyday, be physical, get my hands dirty, push myself, eat healthy, and be happy.

Since opening we've … grown more than just food—we've grown a baby! Cleverly timed, our daughter Aela was born last December. She now spends her days out on the farm, napping in the fresh air and accompanying me with all farm work (harvesting, seeding, caring for chickens, etc).

I love living and working in the Cowichan Valley because … of the divine nature and the big-hearted community. I grew up in a city and never thought a place like the Cowichan Valley existed. With so many rivers, lakes, mountains, forests and being surrounded by the ocean, for a water and nature lover it feels like paradise. Plus, being a part of a small, friendly community has been a true joy. Especially with the birth of our first child, it has been really amazing realizing that she is already loved by so many. We are really grateful to raise a family here surrounded by a lovely community both in life and work.

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My favourite seasonal activity is … Sugaring! We make Bigleaf Maple Syrup as a major part of our Full Diet CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) program. We love sitting by the evaporator on cold winter days sipping maple sap amidst the sweet scent of syrup in the making.

What features do you love most about the farm property? The view and the resident eagles! We feel so fortunate to be farming prime Cowichan soil, but it would not be the same without the amazing view and the resident eagles watching out for us. We have amazing views of both Mount Prevost and Mount Tzouhalem, and we cannot help but stop what we're doing to admire the eagle family's overhead flights and love hearing their unique calls throughout the day.

What “Words of Wisdom” would you give to yourself five years ago? Don't underestimate the power of networking. I, nor our farm, would be where it is today if it wasn't for the wonderful people I've met along the way. Not only have these folks been personally and professionally influential but they remain great friends, we're truly lucky to have them.

All images by Kelly Brown.

Tenant Profile: Folk Apparel

We are so proud of our fantastic tenants—we want to showcase them! Meet Willow, owner of Folk Apparel (at 803 Fort Street) providing “the basics you need to simplify and streamline your wardrobe.”

Name: Willow Elkink
Type of service: Modern and minimalist left-coast women's clothing
Proudly operating since: October 2015
Number of staff: 5

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I opened my business because … I saw a need for a local shop to provide simple, quality, affordable basics in Victoria. In the past, when you were labelled as a "boutique" store there was a sense that you had to carry novelty, special items that were unique; I looked at that model of doing business and tossed it. Folk Apparel is innovative. We take modern, minimalist, forward-thinking materials and ideas and apply it to a small business model. We provide elevated services to our customers; you can find sales associates at Folk who outfit and become your personal wardrobe consultant. We carry very affordable local and international lines (most styles under $100). We don't have to charge over inflated rates because we are not a big name brand, and alternatively we don't have to undersell to jumpstart consumerism because our classic quality styles will last beyond fads. I live here in Victoria with my family (five kids and a hubby), and I care very much about who shops at Folk. I'm on the floor working daily with my staff and customers alike to ensure a high quality of experience for everyone.

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Since opening I … have received so much positive feedback from people! I knew there was a need for quality basics from a local retailer and having many women giving positive feedback on our inventory tells me I'm on the right track. We carry very wearable neutrals that appeals to everyone's wardrobe. The cuts and fabrics of our clothing really make the person who wears them feel and look good. That's what women want when they dress, especially in our lifestyle here the coast: quality comfort and elegance for a good price. We deliver that.

I love living and working in Victoria because … attaining what you need in Victoria is so much easier than a bigger/or even smaller city. Whatever you need—tickets to a concert, a beach walk, great food, good people—it’s so easy in this beautiful environment. Cycling is getting easier as people acknowledge the need for forward-thinking transportation around our city. Nature and being outdoors is a priority here so I've noticed a quality of life that cannot compare to anywhere else I've found.

My current favourite seasonal activity is … storm watching on the beach in the winter. I love the mercurial nature of Victoria’s weather. I am a true west coast girl when it comes to beach walks, the rain, the wind and forest hikes. 

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What features do you love most in your retail space? I am inspired a lot by the skies, they are so beautiful and ever-changing, much like our daily lives. We have a skylight that really lends a sense of airy-ness and light to the store. The space is also very intimate which helps create a feeling of closeness and care.

What “Words of Wisdom” would you give to yourself five years ago?
To keep it simple.

All photos by Kelly Brown.

48 Hours in... Nashville!

We love to travel, and we love to share our favorite finds with our friends.  In fact, ask me for recommendations and you are likely to get an essay in response.  We thought we’d start sharing our favorite finds on our blog in our new “48 Hours in…” series! 

Let’s kick it off with Nashville!

Over the holidays my husband and I went to visit his family in Atlanta, GA.  His parents generously offered to take our kids for a few days so that we could get away on our own.  There are lots of amazing cities to explore in the Southeast, but given my deep love of country music and (ahem) slight obsession with a certain television show, we decided to road trip to Nashville! 

DAY 1:

Sheraton Nashville Downtown: We checked into this centrally located, newly renovated Sheraton after our road trip from Atlanta.  It was freezing cold while we were visiting, so the free hot chocolate in the lobby was a welcome touch. 

Sheraton Nashville Downtown

Sheraton Nashville Downtown

The Patterson House: Not gonna lie – I might have scouted this place out from a list of Connie Britton’s favorite Nashville hot spots.  But it didn’t disappoint.  Our Uber driver dropped us off and we wandered around for a while trying to find this tucked away speak-easy, which is located in a converted house.  Amazing cocktail list featuring craft bourbon. 

The Patterson House

The Patterson House

Rolf & Daughters: Arguably one of the best meals of our lives, highlighting local, seasonal produce.  My husband is still raving about the seed crusted beets.  I'm hoping this place comes out with a cookbook.

Rolf & Daughters

Rolf & Daughters

Bars on Broadway: Because the trip was so last minute, we weren't organized enough to get tickets to any live music.  We were also there a few days before Christmas, so most of the venues we wanted to go to (The Ryman, The Bluebird Cafe, Mercy Lounge, 3rd and Lindsley) were featuring Christmas shows.  Instead we hit up an assortment of bars on Broadway.  Yes, most of the music was just covers of classics (Sweet Home Alabama, anyone?) but the musicians were some of the best I've ever seen.  The photo below was taken at Tootsies.  

Tootsies

Tootsies

DAY 2:

Dozen Bakery: My husband is always seeking out the best croissants wherever he travels, and his research on Nashville led us to Dozen Bakery.  They were worth the trip.  The coffee was also incredible.  

Dozen Bakery

Dozen Bakery

12 South Neighbourhood: Wander around the 12 South neighbourhood, and be sure to stop at Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James flagship location.  Other neighbourhood favorites include Imogene + Willie, Craft South, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Five Daughters Bakery and Frothy Monkey coffee house

Classic Southern style at Draper James in the 12 South Neighbourhood

Classic Southern style at Draper James in the 12 South Neighbourhood

Ryman Auditorium: We toured through the historic Ryman Auditorium, hallowed ground in the history of country music.  Johnny Cash met June Carter here.  One of the boldest business women in the South, Lula C. Naff, ran the Ryman for years.  It was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.  And the concert posters in the building speak to the amazing array of artists and performers that have played here over the years.  Attending a concert at the Ryman is still a bucket list item for me, and I expect that we’ll plan our next trip to Nashville around it. 

Martin’s BBQ Joint: Whole Hog BBQ!  Enough said.  This huge space must be amazing in the hot summer months.  We are counting the days until our return. 

Martin's BBQ

Martin's BBQ

Johnny Cash Museum: Small but worth the visit.  We spent over an hour here, and it renewed my respect for one of America’s greatest musicians and poets. 

Pinewood Social: We went here for some late afternoon cocktails and bowling in their vintage bowling alley, but you could also cozy up on a sofa and play a board game, have a full meal, or (in the summer months) go for a swim or play a round of bocce outdoors. 

Bowling at Pinewood Social

Bowling at Pinewood Social

Adele’s Nashville: The location of our only celebrity sighting while in Nashville, another great restaurant with delicious seasonal food. 

 

DAY 3:

Biscuit Love: Arrive early and expect to wait in line for this popular brunch spot.  We tried to order something pretty healthy after a few solid days of eating Southern fare and were a little underwhelmed, however the neighbouring table went all in and ordered something involving fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, and chocolate pretzels.  They looked pretty happy with their choice!

 And then we hit the road back to Atlanta! 

Creating “Space That Contributes”

The places where we live, work and play deeply impact our health and wellbeing. Planning and design decisions are important, as the built environment influences how we move around a city, facilitates social interactions, and shapes our experience of a venue or neighbourhood.  Us Victorians already benefit from our stunning natural surroundings.  Nature is good for us.  However, our urban environment is equally important to our health and wellbeing.  Good design and interesting streetscapes can improve the walkability or bikeability of our city, enabling people to leave their cars at home; proper planning can also create spaces that engender a sense of community. Delicious local food provides us with an opportunity to celebrate our region and gather together to share a meal, fostering connection and belonging. 

In short: Urban Spaces Matter.

At Fort Properties, we seek to create Space That Contributes. We believe that lovingly designed cities can be good for you and for our community. That’s why we focus on creating spaces that support a comprehensive and multifaceted vision of health and well-being.

We aim to make spaces that:

  • foster social interaction by providing gathering places;
  • make healthy choices easy by making stairways more beautiful than elevators;
  • support the local economy by having a diverse array of community-minded tenants;
  • celebrate food and the power that sharing food has to bring us together;
  • promote alternative transportation through accessible design and bicycle lock-up/storage facilities;
  • support our local business people so that their talent has a place to shine; and
  • give people pleasure in their daily lives by making the spaces they spend time in beautiful.

Design should not be an afterthought to development. Having bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly spaces gives people the ability to walk or bike to work, improving their health and the environment at the same time.  Curating the right tenant mix in our buildings profits both businesses and their patrons. We want those businesses to succeed (businesses are people, too!) and they are more likely to if there is a demand for their services. So let’s listen more than talk. Let’s ask people about their lives and find out what they would like to see happening in their neighbourhoods. And then, while we’re at it, let’s make those spaces creative, diverse and beautiful.

Collaboration is integral to our process. There’s so much to be gained by connecting with each other, and by sharing resources. Victoria is in a really exciting stage of change and growth, and we feel blessed to have the opportunity to help it reach its full potential as a vibrant, dynamic city.

As developers and residents in this beautiful region, we’re cultivating something that is much more satisfying than just serving one bottom line: we’re looking to be a part of the long-term well-being of our hometown.

Photos by Kelly Brown

Weddings at the Fort Common

There are a few things that we never, ever get sick of: brick walls, lush greenery, amazing food shared with people we love, and twinkly white lights.  We adore twinkly white lights.    

These are the things we tried to bring into our lives when we created the Fort Common.  They also happen to be the elements of a divine wedding.  

We are so, so thrilled to announce that the Fort Common is now available to rent out for weddings and other special events.  

You can find information about rentals here.  And follow along on this adventure here.  

In the meantime, here's a little urban wedding inspiration that we have been collecting on our Fort Properties Pinterest board:

(All images via Pinterest)

Welcome to our Blog!

Every property or project we own, build or manage started with an idea. And behind any concept, design or business, there’s a group of hard-working people. Here we will share those stories: profiles of our fantastic tenants, the inside perspective on our development projects and thought-provoking discussions on property ownership and management. We'll also share some of our own personal stories related to travel, shopping, dining out and whatever else happens to pique our interest.

Welcome, we’re glad you’re here!