Old Kelowna character homes getting the wrecking ball treatment | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Old Kelowna character homes getting the wrecking ball treatment

This art deco home at 535 Clement Ave. may soon be torn down to make way for a six-storey building.
September 09, 2019 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - Sharron Simpson knows change is inevitable.

As someone who has worked to preserve Kelowna’s history, however, she also believes the city’s character needs to be maintained as it rolls out.

“Part of the issue (in Kelowna) is densification, but good design needs to be maintained as that happens,” Simpson said.

“These highrises and the people who own them didn’t land into nothing — they landed into an existing community and they’re part of an existing community that was thriving and had a character when they got there.”

It doesn’t make sense to say “I like it here, let’s change it,” she said.

“Let’s try and preserve some of that, so the original community has a visual presence… we’re totally losing all the character of the town.”

With Kelowna seemingly in a continual building boom, there are plenty of examples of old and small being exchanged for buildings that are newer and bigger.

An art deco home at 535 Clement Ave. may soon change to this proposed six-storey building.
An art deco home at 535 Clement Ave. may soon change to this proposed six-storey building.
Image Credit: SUBMTTED

One of the latest is 535 Clement Ave., where an Art Deco house that B.C. Assessment said was built in 1950 nears the end of its story.

The quaint home was purchased in 2016 by AJH Development Ltd. and it's moving forward with plans to offer something bigger and brighter to the space.

In a rezoning application that will soon be before council, plans to change the property from general industry to central business commercial are laid out.

The aim is to eventually build a six-storey mixed-use building comprised of ground floor retail commercial, backed by two levels of parking garage.

There will be multiple levels of office space and residential units on the top floors with roof access if the plans go through. 

“The neighbourhood has seen extensive growth and revitalization in the past 10 years with additional mixed-use developments proposed in the area over the last few years,” reads the application document.

“Significant residential growth in the area over the next few years. Significant residential growth in the area compliments the proposed mixed-use retail, commercial and office space proposed for the site.”

The building will fit with a lot of what’s already there.

“I don’t think that little house stands a chance given what’s going on around it — it sticks out there and I’m not surprised it’s being developed,” Simpson said. “But it would be nice if the person who wanted to develop it could pick up on some of the design features of that little house. We’re totally losing all the character of this town. We’re becoming so homogenized why would anyone want to come here?”

Simpson said that heritage is not something that the city has worked to preserve, though there are some areas that have been kept true to their original form.

Stretches of Abbott Street and Lawrence Avenue have been beautifully preserved, she said. Other areas, however, are bound to change unless someone starts prioritizing heritage holdings.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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