UPDATE: Kelowna City Council approves Monaco towers
11:00 a.m. April 24
Developer Premier Pacific Group got the green light from city council last night to start building two new towers in downtown Kelowna's cultural district.
City councillors unanimously voted to approve the development and the controversial building variances it will require. They reached the decision following last night's public hearing, and gave the project a third and final reading.
8:00 a.m. April 24
The public had its say last night about two large towers proposed for downtown Kelowna. Designs for two highrises proposed on the corner of St. Paul and Doyle Avenue have been twice rejected by city councillors for their unwieldy mass and height.
Yesterday's hearing allowed the public to weigh in on whether the city should amend zoning regulations to allow a development nearly two times larger than planned for in Kelowna's cultural district. Developer Premier Pacific Group is proposing one 30-storey building, bypassing the 26-storey limit, and a tower separation of only 32 meters, short of the required minimum of 36.5 meters.
City planners say the proposed Monaco highrises would most closely resemble developments like the Waterscapes, Skye and the Madison.
Over a dozen people who live on Ellis Street, St. Paul and in the Madison spoke at last night's hearing, with only a few supporting the project. Bob Hayworth, a resident on Ellis Street presented an overhead map indicating how the proposed towers would obstruct the view corridor of existing residents in the area.
“Two towers do not fit on this property,” he said, suggesting one single building would be a fair compromise by the developer.
A handful of speakers brought the discussion back down to earth. They said the girth and bulkiness of the buildings would hit people hardest down on the street level, where pedestrians would be confronted with a massive concrete parkade structure.
“It's going to be all concrete, not the most pleasant experience,” one local resident said. Another speaker living in a fourth floor Ellis Street residence said, “as far as I can see I'm going to be looking at a solid wall of cement.”
Another feared hasty approval of the ambitious project could invite the same problems that stalled SOPA Square and the Lucaya tower. With a new Interior Health building slated for the same corner of downtown, one speaker suggested city council put the Monaco on hold until it has other projects up and running.
Of all the feedback, city councillors were most perplexed by claims of a blindspot in their evaluation criteria. A number of speakers suggested the city plan requires an “adequate view corridor.” Local resident Bob Hayworth claimed the towers would obstruct a minimum 40 degree panorama for surrounding buildings. While city councillors are well aware the Monaco challenges existing regulations on building height and tower separation, they were less convinced it violates a minimum recommended view corridor.
Premier Pacific Group representative Tyler Dueck gave the project a final pitch last night. He says each building promises “diversity in a single structure.” The larger tower to the north would house upscale condos, bringing “attainable luxury to downtown Kelowna.” Its residents would have access to an on-site subsidized daycare facility.
The south tower would house a 128-unit hotel complete with swimming pools, a lounge, spa, restaurants and green landscaping.
Dueck says the Monaco will also provide highly sought after retail space for shops and businesses. The “upscale design is ideal for these companies,” he says, adding the new foot traffic generated by the development would bring more customers to Bernard Avenue's commercial strip.
Of the speakers who commended the Monaco as a vibrant addition to downtown, one man expressed his excitement for the project:
“I don't want to move to Vancouver...I want to stay in Kelowna and watch it grow and make this big push.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)718-0428.