Massive downtown Kelowna hotel going back to council again - InfoNews

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Massive downtown Kelowna hotel going back to council again

This is the newest version of the West Corp hotel plan
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Westcorp
November 29, 2019 - 2:47 PM

The massive downtown Kelowna hotel project that's been discussed in one form or another for more than a decade is inching toward completion. 

In a press release sent out Friday, Nov. 29, Westcorp announced it has been working to finalize agreements with a hotel operator, and has been busy with construction of the Hotel Exhibition Gallery (complete with a full-sized concept hotel room) on Bernard Avenue. 

“Westcorp is now nearing the end of that process and is working to finalize a date for an important announcement event planned for early 2020,” Gail Temple, Westcorp vice-president of operations, said in a press release.  

Pre-construction analysis and refinements have also been ongoing and have resulted in the addition of a third level of parking to the underground parkade (total number of parking stalls has risen from 295 to 331). 

This change has allowed 14 hotel rooms to replace parking stalls on the Water Street façade of the podium, a change that will provide a more active interface with the street. Other benefits include a reduction in podium height, changed back of house hotel spaces, and an alteration to the design relationship to surrounding buildings.

Westcorp's plans have changed. Can you spot the difference?
Westcorp's plans have changed. Can you spot the difference?
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Westcorp

“Westcorp’s pre-construction work in 2019 has presented some opportunities for us to make the project better, from both design and operational perspectives. While these changes will not affect the look of the building in a significant way, they do require the approval of council, and we will be submitting these revisions to the City this afternoon,” Temple said.

 “It is our hope that council will be pleased with the changes, and we look forward to moving on to the sale of the residential units in the spring as planned.”

 In  2018 there was a public hearing for another development variance requested by Westcorp. It allowed for a much larger 33-storey hotel and condominium complex.
 
Construction on that iteration of the project was supposed to begin before the end of this year. A previous version was supposed to see construction begin in 2016.

Going further back into the project's history, in 2007 Westcorp principal Phil Milroy financed what is known as a comprehensive development plan for a large swath of downtown, where the company also owns other property.

The plan, known as CD-21, would have governed not only the construction of the hotel site but also those around it, including height and density but also the placement of urban parks and street closures.

The centrepiece of the plan would have been the Westcorp hotel on land purchased in 2003, originally envisioned by the company as jutting out into Okanagan Lake, sitting in part on land in Kerry Park.

Public pressure at the time pushed the company to scale down its original plans and pull it back from the water’s edge but it was ultimately all for naught as council of the day voted against the plan.

The pullback in Kelowna's real estate market after the recession put the project back on ice.


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