An announcement is expected within weeks on which contractor will build a major new administrative centre for Interior Health in downtown Kelowna.
The health authority is in the final stages of negotiating an agreement with the contractor for the complex, where 1,000 IH employees will work in what's expected to be a major revitalization boost for the central core.
When the project was originally announced in August 2012, it was stated construction would begin by the fall of 2013 with completion set for mid-2015.
"The evaluation of the proposals took a little longer than expected," Cam McAlpine, a spokesman for Interior Health, said Wednesday. "We're still in negotiations with the preferred (building) partner for a final contract."
By early February, McAlpine estimated, more details on the project - such as the building's size and height at the southeast corner of Doyle Avenue and Ellis Street, along with artist renderings - will be released to the public.
Immediately after those details are presented, the City of Kelowna will start work on a 193-stall expansion of the library parkade that's necessary to accommodate all the workers in the new IH building. A new 440-stall parkade will be built after that between Memorial Arena and the museum.
"We'll tender the parkade as soon as that final agreement between IH and its preferred partner is completed," said Doug Gilchrist, the city's real estate director.
The IH administrative centre, which will also have some patient services, represents a partnership between the city and the health authority. The city sold the land, now used as a parking lot, to IH at below-market value last year.
IH, in turn, will sell the property to a contractor to build the new centre. IH has committed to lease back 145,000 square feet for offices and health services, but it has been expected the builder will also incorporate additional space for other commercial uses.
Eleven leased facilities in and around Kelowna will be consolidated by Interior Health into the new downtown building.
Civic officials say the addition of 1,000 well-paid workers in a new office complex will bring much-needed vitality to downtown: "It could potentially be the biggest thing that's happened in downtown Kelowna in modern history," Mayor Walter Gray said in 2012.