A plan to build Kelowna’s two tallest buildings has been approved, with members of city council gushing over the proposal.
Heralded as “raising the bar” for development in the city, the One Water Street project will feature two residential towers—one 36 stories tall and the other 29 stories—both on a single three-storey “podium” structure featuring commercial space on the ground level, parking and outdoor amenities such as green space, a swimming pool, barbecue pits and even a small dog park for residents. The complex will also feature a daycare centre inside of the building that will be available to the public.
“I’m glad we waited to have such a nice, beautiful building put there,” said Coun. Maxine DeHart of the site at the corner of Sunset And Water Street, opposite Prospera Place downtown. “Sometimes you have to wait for the best.”
The site has sat vacant for years since plans for two separate hotel developments on the property fell through.
Another councillor, Gail Given said she felt the proposal, by developers North American Development Group, has raised the bar for future building projects in the city.
Even Coun. Charlie Hodge, the lone vote against the project because of the planned height, called the project “world class.”
Council approved a variance for the project to allow for the height of the two towers, one 10 storeys taller than the maximum currently allowed in the area and the other, three storeys taller. Currently, the tallest building in the city is the Sky tower at Waterscapes, just up the road from One Water Street.
The site is one block from the lakeshore and had already been rezoned to allow for the project.
In addition to Hodge, only two people spoke out against the project Tuesday night at the council meeting, both were members of the public.
Area resident Patrick Doyle predicted there would be “chaos” when it comes to traffic in the area because the project will add more than 400 condos units to an small area that already has more than 1,000.
“It’s a sham,” he said, urging council to reconsider the plan.
But Mayor Colin Basran countered that argument later in expressing his support for the project saying he felt it was better to approve that many homes as condos downtown than to allow a subdivision with as many single family homes when it came to generating more traffic.
“Now, that would be chaos,” he said.
For years the city has made it clear it wants to see an increase in density downtown to try an avoid sprawl in other parts of the city.
City staff, which also supported the project, said One Water Street will help to do that.
The developers plan to hold a news conference later this morning to respond to council’s decision and give more information about the project and the timing of construction.