Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Janion

Ever since I've lived in Victoria I've had my eye on a derelict building downtown on the waterfront. For years this brick beauty sat there decaying across from Chinatown. The Janion was built as a hotel in 1891 and had a checkered history.  It was built before Victoria was electrified but was on the cutting edge as it wired for electricity at such time as the service might be available.

It's been empty for decades and I was always thinking that it would be a beautiful building to restore. My fantasy was a bunch of artists studios with a central art gallery. Wishful thinking for sure. Especially as the building was apparently owned by a reclusive woman who refused to sell.

Then three years ago we saw a sign offering sales of "waterfront micro-lofts" at a reasonable price--for Victoria that is. It happened to be around the time we were thinking of selling our house on Haliburton Road so we decided to buy into this project. The developer was planning to restore the facade of the old building and build a large addition onto the back towards the water.

There was a lot of interest in these micro-lofts as they were affordable and we had to line up early in the morning to get in and make a purchase, more as an investment than anything else. We decided to get a unit in the newer section, which is a more modern design. Here's a model of it. Our unit is one of the small onesin the middle of the photo--three up and three across.

These units are really tiny. The one we purchased is only 320 square feet. What makes it liveable is that it has a queen sized bed that folds up to become a dining table.

The whole thing was really a leap of faith as we didn't really know what we would do with this little abode. Since then we've been thinking about what to do with the space. I considered using it as a painting studio and it would be nice but we can't afford that. At this point we're thinking we'll use it for short-term tourist rentals and see how that might work.

It's ideally located downtown within walking distance of a lot of things. And the area is really vibrant with lots of restaurants, bars, galleries etc. so it would work that way. Well since then we've been watching the renovations, which have proceeded quite slowly. This was what it looked like about a year and a half ago. But recently things are coming together and it looks like we'll take ownership within about a month.

Today we had the exciting opportunity to do a "pre-purchase walk-through" with one of their representatives. Our unit is finished and it was the first time we actually saw what we had purchased. 

Here's what it looked like.

This is the kitchen and dining area...

The same view with the bed pulled out...

This is the other end of the room with a space for a flat screen tv and a couch or chairs where the young man is standing. The photo on the right shows the view out the little standing balcony.

I have to say that "micro" is the operative word. It's small--but I think it can work for a holiday rental. Or for friends who visit from out of town. It has a nice bathroom with a roomy shower, plus a washer/dryer in a closet and even one of those darling dishwashers in a drawer. It's very modern and they've done a nice job with the flooring and the built-ins.

Just for contrast I'm posting some photos taken of the inside of the derelict building before the renovations began.


The heritage front looks a lot better now.  It's going to have a really nice entrance, plus some retail on the main floor.

Here's what the foyer floor will be like. I think it's really gorgeous. It's going to be fun furnishing and setting up the little studio.


  1. Thanks for this post, and for your blog in general, Joanna. I started reading you a few years ago because it was linked to a Mexico oriented blog I liked, but I have been really enjoying your posts about Victoria and surroundings. You really capture the things I love about the area. Re the Janion, like many Victorians, I've been so curious about that building for many years. It's great to get a peak into its developments. Looks like a perfect vacation rental to me. Maria Lee

  2. Fascinating work in restoring the place. Like you said, micro, but it would work for those purposes.

  3. I love the building, it is beautiful.
    The studio is perfect. I watch the Tiny Home Show and this is just like many of the tiny homes they design. You have a wonderful view.

    cheers, parsnip

  4. Love the micro, what a great buy. Harry, we are sorry to hear about the chemo and wish you the best of luck. We think of you both often and miss our rendezvous in Mexico. Ches and Allison


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