Developers high on high-rises in downtown Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Developers high on high-rises in downtown Kelowna

The half-built tower at 1151 Sunset Drive looms behind a sign advertising the yet-to-be-built One Water Street high-rise development, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017.
September 08, 2017 - 11:30 AM

KELOWNA - If sod is ever turned remains to be seen but the city is reporting a boom in the number of high-rise developments and applications downtown.

“We’ll wait and see how many actually get under construction,” community planning manager Ryan Smith cautions. “We’re excited that people want to put tall buildings in the right places. We do like where we are right now.”

The most obvious sign of a high-rise renaisance in the city is the recently-revived and now half-built 21-storey tower at 1151 Sunset Drive where Kerkhoff Construction is completing a building which first began construction in 2007, but ended up victim of the 2008 downturn.

Apparently quite confident in the future of downtown Kelowna, Kerkhoff and partners North American Group are also behind the revival of the site at Ellis Street and Clement Avenue, first proposed as a possible luxury hotel site a decade ago.

One Water Street has already received Kelowna city council approval to go beyond existing height restrictions with 29- and 36-storey residential towers slated to sit on a podium-style commercial development below.

Across the street, RG Properties is proposing a 14-storey residential tower while the 20-storey Ella is being considered for the corner of Ellis Street and Lawrence Avenue. Local developer Mission Group is also a partner in the Central Green development with Al Stober Construction, another Kelowna-based firm.

Westcorp Development of Calgary is voting on a strong Kelowna market with the decision to withdraw its already-approved hotel and residential development on Okanagan Lake and submit a new proposal for a new tower, which at 130 metres is six-stories and almost twice as tall as first requested.

Smith says there appears to be stong demand right now from various demographics for high-rise condominiums driven primarily by people relocating from the Lower Mainland who are used to that style of living.

But with the fate of the old Lucaya still fresh in his mind — it sat as a hulking half-built foundation for ten years — Smith warns that market research is critical for those wishing to sell Vancouver-style high-rise condominiums in the Kelowna market.

Smith points to a surge of purpose-built rental properties coming on the market in the next two years — at least 1,500 — which could substantially change both the rental and resale markets.

“We are seeing speculation in the market and we’re encouraging (developers) to be cautious, to look around at the amount of product on the market and who they are going to sell it to before jumping in.”

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