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Kelowna says ‘no for now’ for three-tower downtown development

City council has turned down a proposal for a massive development on Coronation Avenue – but leaves its options open
The development from a downtown assembly would feature more than 700 residential units, an 85-room hotel and some ground floor commercial | Photo: MON Architecture

A massive three-tower development proposal of Safari Capital that would redefine Coronation Avenue in downtown Kelowna has been turned down by city council.

At least for the time being.

The proposed development includes towers proposed to reach 33, 27 and 20 storeys in height situated atop one long podium stretching across a land assembly of more than a dozen properties.

As it did with a proposed 46-storey tower on Bertram Street 18 months ago, planning staff brought this plan forward for "early consideration" by council before staff and the developer invest more resources and money into a project planning manager Terry Barton calls a complex file that "sits well beyond our existing policy framework.

The overall development would feature more that 700 units, including two towers of market rental units and some condominium units.

It would also include an 85-room hotel and some ground floor commercial.

Barton says planning staff did not support the project because of the overall height, density and negative fit within a more low-rise neighbourhood.

Barton also called the project, "premature," saying there are still so many unknowns, development-wise, in the downtown area.

He said it was staff's view the project was largely predicated on the University of

British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) tower which is "not approved, not built and not operating.

If UBCO is built, if Kerkhoff's building [35 storeys] is built, if Mission Group's rental tower at 17 storeys is built on Bertam, if some of the other tower proposals come forth and we are talking five or 10 years down the road, does this proposal make more sense – potentially,”

Coun. Luke Stack said he believed the development was too much for the site, specifically the single podium that would run the entire length of the development. He also suggested it would signal too much of a shift from the new Official Community Plan.

While council agreed with staff, they also left the door wide open for the developer to come back with something different at a later time.

"I really like this project, but I think it's beyond where it needs to be," said Mayor Colin Basran.

"I really encourage you to work with our planning staff because a consolidation like this doesn't come along very often.

"We have a unique opportunity here that can be a win-win scenario, but I don't think we are quite there yet."