Central Green goes ahead in Kelowna without hoped-for high-rise

Artist's rendition of the Central Green development in Kelowna.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

KELOWNA - Central Green, a marquee development project in downtown Kelowna, has achieved most of what was originally envisioned by the city council of the day.

That was the gist of the arguments put forward Monday, Feb. 5, by councillors as they approved the form and character of the five-story building on Richter Street.

A previous attempt just two weeks ago by developer Al Stober Construction ended in a deferral as frustrated councillors demanded to know why a hoped-for 12-storey high-rise never materialized.

But the time-out did nothing and Stober Construction submitted virtually the same application for an 108-unit rental apartment building with some minor improvements to the exterior.

Stober bought the Kelowna Senior Secondary School site in 2014 for $6 million which came with a comprehensive development plan attached.

However, councillors learned to their chagrin there was no guaranteed minimum height in the plan and no legal requirement for the developer to build a high-rise.

Mayor Colin Basran supported the application and insisted the city had lost nothing while managing to instigate development on the site that sat vacant for over a decade.

"The vision we all bought into and fell in love with wasn’t feasible,” Basran said. "So the question is what do we lose without the height, the answer is nothing and we get so many positives as a result."

However, Coun. Ryan Donn said the confusion over the project has left him doubting the development process.

“I believe what we lost is trust in our staff reports,” Donn said. “I need to trust the process. I need to trust that what is said at the podium and what is in the report and what’s up on the screen actually represents reality."

Both Donn and Coun. Charlie Hodge voted against the form and character application.

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