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Unique wine education, sampling centre planned for Kelowna a bust

This was supposed to be a 625-seat wine education centre but those plans have been shelved.
This was supposed to be a 625-seat wine education centre but those plans have been shelved.

All that remains of an historic building in downtown Kelowna that once housed its daily newspaper and a popular restaurant is the façade bearing the date of 1928.

Behind it sits a hole in the ground with a concrete pad and rebar poking up. A tower crane looms over the site, which has sat idle for months.

“There will be some changes in the next couple of months,” Ryan Smith, the City of Kelowna’s community planning development manager told “The crane is going to be removed and stored on the site for now and, I think, they’re going to replace the hoarding (fence) around the site while the owner reviews their options to permit something new on the property.”

In May of 2020, city council approved plans for renovations to the building to allow for construction of a 625-seat wine education and sampling centre. The plans called for a 60-person wine bar, 150-person lounge, 60-person roof top deck, 300-person interpretive centre and tasting room, 30-person education centre and lab and a wine shop with a 25-person capacity.

READ MORE: Historic buildings in downtown Kelowna could become massive new wine centre

It was dubbed Iconic Wine, a name associated with Mark Anthony Wines and Spirits. That company has not responded to repeated requests from for comment about its plans.

This is what
This is what's behind the facade.

“It’s not going ahead in the form that it was originally permitted for,” Smith said. “They had building permits for it and were headed down that path but I think COVID and licencing issues changed it.”

Since there has been no work on the site for months, and the building permit has either expired or is about to expire, the city has asked that the crane be taken down, Smith said.

The scaffolding will remain since it is supporting the façade. Keeping that façade was a requirement of the renovations.

The building is at 1570 and 1580 Water Street at the corner of Lawrence Avenue.

Originally a one storey building , it was constructed in 1908 to house the Kelowna Courier. It was expanded in 1928. It most recently housed The Keg before the restaurant moved to a new location along Highway 97.

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