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Central Green shouldn't be an empty lot much longer

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Mayor Walter Gray addresses the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce during his annual State of the City speech Thursday at the Capri Hotel.
Word of more residential development at Central Green is expected this spring, says Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray.
Years of relative inactivity on the site at the corner of Highway 97 and Richter Street are about to end, Gray suggested Thursday.
During his annual State of the City speech to the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Gray said there will soon be "full uptake" of the site's building potential.
Currently, only two modest-size social housing projects have been announced for the five-hectare site. When the city's development hopes for the site were crafted in 2008, there were plans for hundreds of new residential units in a variety of towers and low-rise buildings arranged around a large central commons.
Central Green, on the former site of Kelowna Secondary School, is intended to help increase the number of people living downtown and further spur revitalization efforts in the central core.
Gray's laundry list of cheery statistics and city-led initiatives got a polite and attentive hearing from chamber members gathered at the Capri Hotel.
The value of all construction approved by the city in 2013 was 26 per cent above 2012 levels, which in turn were above the mark set in 2011, Gray said. And last year more than 200 new subdivision lots were approved, compared to just 77 in 2012.
"Clearly for Kelowna, the recession is behind us and we're on our way," Gray said.
He also referred to a variety of previously well-publicized developments such as Interior Health's plans for a new corporate headquarters downtown, approval of the Monaco twin highrise towers on Doyle Avenue and the city's intention to spend $48 million on a new RCMP detachment.
Extension this year of the Rails-with-Trails recreation corridor between Spall Road and Dilworth Drive will complete a 19-kilometre-long cycling loop, almost all of which is off-road, Gray said.
That should encourage more people to get active, something Gray suggested was necessary in Kelowna because the city has the highest rate of car ownership of any Canadian municipality.
The truth behind that statistic, of the car's primary role in the life of Kelowna, was underscored by the only burst of applause Gray received during his half-hour address - when he mentioned that new left-turn arrows will soon be installed at Highway 97 intersections at Gordon Drive, Burtch Road and Cooper Road.

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