Why a massive downtown Kelowna tower proposal won't get an easy ride at council | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why a massive downtown Kelowna tower proposal won't get an easy ride at council

Two of these three towers in downtown Kelowna don't meet the city's vision, despite what the developer says.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna
January 21, 2020 - 3:00 PM

Efforts by Anthony Beyrouti to quickly build three massive towers on Leon Avenue and Water Street shouldn't expect a smooth ride through Kelowna City Hall.

An application for the three towers was filed with the city on Jan. 9 and Beyrouti told iNFOnews.ca a few days later that he hoped to have them completed within a couple of years, at which time he would start contributing $1 million over 10 years to help feed and house the homeless in Kelowna.

They're proposed to be built next to the Gospel Mission homeless shelter on Leon Avenue.

The first delay will be in getting the application to city council.

Ryan Smith, the city’s community planning department manager, told iNFOnews.ca yesterday, Jan. 20, that likely won’t happen until June or July because of a flood of development applications at City Hall as projects are being rushed forward in advance of new development fees.

The second delay may come from city staff if they recommend against the massive height variances for the towers – which range up to 42 storeys while only 26 are allowed under the zone.

“The towers match the city’s vision for the future of this zone,” the application to the city states.

Smith disagreed.

“That’s the developer’s plan,” Smith said. “In those blocks, we anticipated a height of up to 26 storeys.”

While the city’s Official Community Plan is under review, Smith doesn’t anticipate any significant change to the heights for downtown buildings.

But, he won’t rule it out altogether.

“We’ll review the request and sometimes we do support building height variances,” Smith said. “We have with the One Water Street project, we supported some variances there (to 36 storeys). A good enough project in other areas would certainly merit staff reviewing variances and possibly supporting them. I don’t know whether staff would support that with this project or not. I know we have had discussions with the developer and tried to provide some feedback and advice where possible but that doesn’t always get listened to.”

And, while the $1 million contribution to the homeless may seem generous, by getting his application in now, Beyrouti is actually saving himself $5.7 million that would otherwise have gone to building parks.

A new development cost charge was supposed to be in place by Jan. 1 that would charge developers more than $7,000 per unit to build parks but it has yet to be approved by the province.

That means Beyrouti's project, called Water Street by the Park and which proposes 816 units, will be exempt from the new fees.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro 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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