Buyers are clamouring for this historic downtown Kelowna building | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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Buyers are clamouring for this historic downtown Kelowna building

The B.C. Tree Fruits building in downtown Kelowna was once a sign of the 'golden age' of the Okanagan fruit industry.
September 30, 2020 - 6:30 AM

It didn’t take long after he was named CEO of the B.C. Tree Fruits last September for people to start knocking on Warren Sarafinchan’s door.

While many of those were related to tree fruits, a good number were also inquiries about his head office at 1473 Water St. in downtown Kelowna.

“The interest has been literally from the moment I became CEO to recently,” Sarafinchan told today, Sept. 28. “There’s been a lot of people knocking on the door.”

Shortly after taking on the job, Sarafinchan initiated a review of the organization’s holdings and realized the historic head office for the tree fruit cooperative was no longer needed.

The 50 to 60 people working out of the building, on the corner of Water Street and Queensway, have slowly moved off to other buildings owned by the cooperative. The last moved two or three weeks ago.

It’s now become public knowledge that the building is for sale although it won’t be listed until later this week.

Built in 1946, the two storey art deco building has always been used as an office for the cooperative which brought more than 90 per cent of fruit growers from throughout the Okanagan and Creston valleys together, starting in 1936, cutting down the competition between growers and centralizing packing, selling and shipping of eight fruits.

It sits on .275 acres of prime downtown land near Okanagan Lake and was valued at $2,727,000 by B.C. Assessment last year. The land alone is valued at more than $2 million.

It has more than 13,617 square feet of office space that, Sarafinchan said, is in good shape and has been well maintained.

But it’s also zoned for high rise residential and a new owner could always apply for rezoning.

It is listed on the city’s heritage registry that indicates it has heritage value but does not protect it from demolition or redevelopment.

“The heritage value of the B.C. Tree Fruits Ltd. structure rests in the building's striking Modernist design, and in it having accommodated the corporate offices of the principal fruit-marketing organization in the Okanagan from 1946 to the present day,” states the city’s Heritage Registry.

“Wartime rationing of sugar and limitations on candy manufacture during the War had led to high prices for fruit and prosperity for fruit growers. (The 1940s are often referred to as the 'Golden Age' of the Okanagan fruit industry.) Restrictions on building were relaxed after the War, and this larger building was erected, reflecting the prosperity of the industry,” it says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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