Restoration of vintage gas station proposed in midst of downtown Kelowna skyscrapers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Restoration of vintage gas station proposed in midst of downtown Kelowna skyscrapers

This is a rendering of the restored Kelowna Motors building proposed for the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street in downtown Kelowna.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

Kelowna’s tallest skyscraper at 42 stories is well under construction at Leon Avenue and Water Street in downtown Kelowna. Kiddy-corner was once a proposal for a 40-storey tower and a block away there’s plans for 34 story tower.

In the midst of all this, a local builder wants to uncover the old Kelowna Motors one-storey garage and gas station on the northwest corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street.

“In our research on the existing property, we discovered that the building was once used for a gas station operated by Kelowna Motors, among other uses,” states a development permit application filed by Worman Homes with the City of Kelowna.

“The original building appears to be hidden underneath a 1976 addition."

A photo from a Kelowna Daily Courier article showing the original building in the 60s.
A photo from a Kelowna Daily Courier article showing the original building in the 60s.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

The proposal is to “re-expose and refurbish” the original “poured in place concrete” structure, add a curved glass feature on the corner and replace the original garage door on Water Street with a “storefront glass” and an entry door.

Restoring the gas pumps or replacing them with new ones is not being suggested.

“This exterior area used to be the location where cars filled up with gas: hard to believe those big 1960s cars could navigate this small space,” the application says. “We believe the classic look of this old building will complement the new construction happening around it and provide an interesting contrast from new to old.”

BC Assessments valued the 0.137 acre property at 310 Leon Ave. at almost $3 million as of July 2023 and the 1945 building at $15,000. It sold in January of this year for $840,000.

Across Water Street from the site, two of the three Water Street by the Park highrises are under construction.

The tower on the east side of the property, closest to the Kelowna Motors building, will become Kelowna’s tallest at 42 storeys, but only until the UBC Okanagan 43-storey tower on Doyle Avenue is finished.

READ MORE: Kelowna city council approves massive downtown housing project

Closer to the lake is a 28-storey tower that's part of that project. Plans call for a 24-storey third tower on the southwest corner.

Across Leon Avenue from the Kelowna Motors building towards Highway 97 the city had a tentative deal to sell the land to a developer who proposed to build a 40-storey tower.

That deal fell through last year and the property is not yet back on the market, but at the time the city viewed it as a “gateway” project.

READ MORE: New 40-storey highrise tower proposal part of 'gateway' to downtown Kelowna

At the northeast corner of Lawrence Avenue and Water Street, about a block to the north of the Kelowna Motors site, the Mission Group and Victor Properties plan to build a 34-storey tower in what is now a parking lot.

READ MORE: Kelowna’s Mission Group wants to add 34-storey tower to its highrise inventory

Mission Group CEO Jon Friesen told in December that they plan to apply for a development permit for that project this year but won’t start marketing it until at least 2025.

The Kelowna Motors application does not say what tenant may occupy the building, if the modifications are approved.

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