Edmonton-based Westcorp has submitted plans to build a 24-storey, 206-room hotel on the old Willow Inn site.
Edmonton-based Westcorp intends to build a first-class, 24-storey, 206-room hotel at the base of Queensway overlooking Okanagan Lake.
The $65-million project on the site of the old Willow Inn would also include an 18,000-square-foot conference centre,
4,000 square feet of new retail space along Water Street and a restaurant overlooking the lake.
"This project will revive this area of Kelowna's waterfront into the vibrant, central hub that it once was during the historic glory days of the original Willow Inn," Phil Milroy, president of Westcorp, said Wednesday.
Details of the proposed hotel, long desired by city officials as a way of helping revitalize the central core, were presented Wednesday to officials with the Downtown Kelowna Association.
Paperwork relating to the project was also filed this week with planning staff at City Hall. If all the necessary approvals are granted as expected, construction could start next year with completion by January 2017.
Hotel plans show a striking elliptical tower rising from a base that incorporates the retail premises and conference centre. "We really think this will be a jewel for downtown Kelowna," said Gail Temple, Westcorp's director of development.
"Our intention is for this to be the highest-rated hotel in Kelowna," Temple said. "It'll be a landmark building that we hope serves as a catalyst for future development downtown."
Key to the project is Westcorp's intention to buy a portion of Mill Street, extending between Bernard Avenue and Queensway, from the City of Kelowna. The area would become a pedestrian-friendly zone, with several outdoor patios and walkways.
The project does not infringe on Kerry Park, or on lands specified for perpetual municipal ownership in the Simpson Covenant, and the entire waterfront would remain open to the public.
In addition to the road closure, a height variance must also be approved by city council, as current city plans restrict any new building on the now-vacant site to 19 storeys.
Plans for the project are expected to reach a city council agenda for initial consideration within a few months. Public hearings on the requested variances and road closure would then be held.
Westcorp is a real estate company that owns and manages hotels, residential complexes, and retail developments. Last year, the company built a new public pier and marina in downtown Kelowna.
The company's redevelopment of the old Hiawatha mobile home park on Lakeshore Road was approved by council in December. Plans for that 18-acre site call for an 11-storey hotel, two eight-storey residential towers, and several low-rise buildings.