One major Westcorp development in Kelowna coming up but hotel still on hold | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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One major Westcorp development in Kelowna coming up but hotel still on hold

Westcorp's planned downtown Kelowna hotel remains on hold almost a year after COVID-19 hit and disrupted plans.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Westcorp
January 13, 2021 - 8:00 AM

Edmonton-based Westcorp is keeping quiet about its plans for its 33-storey downtown Kelowna hotel but is going ahead with a major residential development near Rotary Beach Park.

For the hotel, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

On March 11, 2020 the development company announced that, on March 25, it would unveil the name of the “exclusive world-wide luxury brand” to run its long promised hotel.

March 11 was the same day that COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and a week before B.C. declared a two-week state of emergency that continues to this day.

“We decided a number of months ago that, until we had a really good line of sight into how long it would take for things to potentially normalize in the hospitality industry, that we just were going to say nothing (about that project),” Gail Temple, Westcorp’s vice-president, told iNFOnews.ca. “We remain fully committed to that project and when we have the ability to move forward, we will.”

Westcorp bought the former Willow Inn in downtown Kelowna in 2007 and has gone through various efforts to develop the site.

It was granted a development permit in February 2020 and had its sales office built and ready to go when COVID hit. The permit is only good until February 2022.

READ MORE: Westcorp to announce name, operator of new luxury Kelowna hotel

The hotel is still being promoted on the Westcorp web site as a “one-of-a-kind site in a very special place in the world.”

The website says it will have 174 hotels rooms and 40 residences but Temple said the latest iteration is for 55 to 60 residences in order to cater better to market demand. The 174 hotel rooms remain in the plan.

Highrises and townhouses are planned for the former Hiawatha campground and RV park on Lakeshore Road.
Highrises and townhouses are planned for the former Hiawatha campground and RV park on Lakeshore Road.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

The company also bought the Hiawatha campground and RV park in 2007 and is moving ahead with redevelopment this summer.

It took until the end of 2015 to buy out the last of the 94 owners of units in the RV park. Of those, 44 units were subsequently rented out. Those tenants were served notice at the end of December that they had to move out by the end of February.

After appeals were made by some of those residents, that deadline was extended until the end of March and residents were given a list of agencies that can assist them in finding new places to live, Temple said.

Work on the site will start this summer. In order to properly install water and sewer lines, the entire site will be cleared, leaving only the campground office behind to serve as a construction office, Temple said. The campground is closed.

The first phase of construction will see nine townhouse buildings with 200 units and the creation of a linear park along Wilson Creek.

READ MORE: Major redevelopment of Hiawatha RV Park in Kelowna set to begin this summer

Another eight towers up to 15 storeys high and a commercial component will round out the project.

READ MORE: Developer makes high end plans for Kelowna campground that's home to low income earners


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