KELOWNA - A new boutique hotel and conference centre may rise from the site of the old Willow Inn with the promise of another attractive element to the recent revitalization of downtown Kelowna.
Real estate company Westcorp is proposing a 206-room hotel with 17,000 square feet of conference space, along with a restaurant and coffee shop that will sit adjacent to Kerry Park. Westcorp announced it will require a capital investment of $65 million leading to more than 720 direct and indirect construction jobs and 300 direct and indirect on-going positions, with 100 in the hotel. The expected economic output should be in the area of $112 million.
“This project will revive this area of Kelowna’s waterfront into the vibrant, central hub that it once was during the historic glory days of the original Willow Inn,” said Westcorp President Phil Milroy. “It will connect the community’s waterfront with the downtown core through a pedestrian-only realm that will foster social activities and community interaction. We feel it embodies the vision of renewal expressed by many residents and downtown business owners and are excited for what it could mean for the downtown core.“
The City's downtown revitalization project is ongoing, with phase three expected to be complete sometime this spring. The $14 million project involved replacing outdated infrastructure and finished with new sidewalks, a resurfaced roadway along with fresh, functional adornments such as new lamp posts.
“Building on the energy created by the Bernard Avenue revitalization work and the new Downtown Marina, this hotel will be an exciting and active addition to the heart of the city,” Westcorp Director of Development Gail Temple said. “The hotel’s world class, contemporary architectural design will not only help raise Kelowna’s profile, it will also act as a catalyst, and raise the bar for future development in the downtown. Now that we have submitted our application to the City, we look forward to the next steps required to bring this project to reality.”
Westcorp forecasts hotel guests will each spend $297 per day average, equating to an increased spend in Kelowna of $20.8 million annually.
“The natural beauty of Kelowna inspired us to incorporate design elements that capture the essence of the Valley’s unique character in a fresh, forward design that will greatly enhance Kelowna’s identity nationally and internationally,” said Michael McDonald, the project’s lead architect for Kasian. “The hotel’s striking elliptical form is set within a podium that steps down to unite with Kerry Park, Bernard Avenue and the waterfront. Together, with a material palette that has been drawn from the natural surroundings, we feel it reinforces the identity of the city and contributes to the emerging ‘Kelowna Brand’.”
Kasian is the largest fully integrated architectural firm in Canada. They also collaborated with Westcorp on the recently completed downtown marina at the foot of Bernard Avenue.
Westcorp is a comprehensive real estate company that acquires, develops, constructs and manages a diverse portfolio of residential, retail, office, hospitality and mixed-use projects in Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, Bonnyville and Winnipeg. The city approved two other Westcorp projects in March 2013; a $150-million Hiawatha Park revitalization project and a $130-million expansion project for Manteo Resort.
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