Two high-rise towers proposed for parking lot beside Prospera Place in Kelowna | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Two high-rise towers proposed for parking lot beside Prospera Place in Kelowna

The parking lot at Prospera Place.
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KELOWNA - A proposal to construct two residential condominiums in the parking lot beside Prospera Place has prompted an examination of the future for Kelowna’s only major arena.

Planner Adam Cseke said the proposal by GSL Group would see a pair of towers, 37 and 27 floors respectively, constructed to the west of Prospera Place on the 240-stall parking lot that sits between it and Water Street.

Kelowna residents could be forgiven for assuming the lot was official arena parking but Cseke said the land is zoned CD5, a custom zoning associated with the arena that allows for construction of 12-storey high-rise buildings.

It was put in place in the 1990s during initial negotiations with the owner of GSL Group Graham Lee, Cseke said, who had to familiarize himself with the original P3 deal for the arena’s construction.

GSL Group owns and operates the building while the City of Kelowna retains ownership of the land underneath it. Under the terms of the public private partnership made 20 years ago, ownership of the building reverts to Kelowna in 2028.

Artist rendering of proposed towers.
Artist rendering of proposed towers.

Cseke said the development proposal has prompted the involvement of other city departments besides planning including real estate (because the city owns the land) and recreation (because the city gets ice time from Prospera as part of the deal).

“We’re looking at everything such as what status Prospera Place is at in terms of functionality,” Cseke said.

Besides serving as the premier performance facility in the Central Okanagan, the 6,600-seat arena is also home to the Western Hockey League Kelowna Rockets.

“We have to decide if the city even wants to operate it after the lease is over or do we put it out to tender. There is also the possibility of renovating and expanding the building southward.”

While unlikely given its relative youth, Cseke said the possibility of replacing the arena has also been considered.

“I don’t think anything is off the table. It would be presumptuous to assume it could just be renovated but I think that’s far more likely than replacing it,” he said. “There would be a lot of problems associated with having that building out of commission for any length of time.”

Besides rezoning, Cseke said GSL Group has asked for a development variance allowing the height increases needed to accommodate 332 units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms.

Both the rezoning and variance requests will require separate appearances before Kelowna council as well as public hearings.

“This is going to be a long process,” Cseke added, who said there is so far no value associated with the project.

GSL Group was inspired to ask for the height variance after a similar one was given to Kerkhoff Construction for the One Water project, which sits across the street from Prospera Place.

Council in February granted a controversial development variance to Westcorp Development, against the advice of city planners. It allowed the developer to add 49 condo units by almost doubling the height of the building to 130 metres from 79 metres.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 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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