A major new development on the edge of Kelowna's downtown core will contain a brewery, a year-round farmers market and two new office buildings.
The ambitious Urban Square project will stretch the entire length of Clement Avenue between Ethel and Richter streets.
A Kelowna developer has bought the three-hectare site, which includes an existing 3,345-square-metre building, from BC Tree Fruits for an undisclosed price.
"We think all the uses we have planned for the property are very complementary, and that the project will be a great addition to downtown Kelowna," Gary Tebbutt of Compass Real Estate Development Ltd. said Thursday.
The land and buildings were put up for sale by BC Tree Fruits as part of its strategy to shed surplus assets and modernize operations at a smaller number of facilities throughout the Okanagan.
"We're glad to see the property will be put to this interesting and exciting new use," said Alan Tyabji, the co-operative's chief operating officer.
Pending the necessary city approvals, it's expected construction on the 5,388-square-metre brewery at the eastern edge of the property will start in April and be finished by the end of 2014.
To be called Starkhund Brewery, it will be owned and operated by a family that has recently moved to Kelowna from Edmonton. The family, which Tebbutt declined to identify, has experience in the beverage industry.
The second phase of the Urban Square project will be the renovation of the bulky, 3,345-square-metre cold storage building, formerly used by BC Tree Fruits to warehouse apples for long periods before shipment.
The relatively featureless facade will be enhanced with windows, skylights and other architectural flourishes.
"Inside, the building has beautiful wooden timbers and 22-foot ceilings," Tebbutt said. "We think it would be perfect for a year-round farmers market."
The development company is in negotiations with the society that runs the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market about a possible move to the renovated building. The market currently operates seasonally at the corner of Dilworth and Springfield roads, but directors of the non-profit society have been looking for a new location for several years.
"We're having a dialogue right now with the developer about how the market might fit into (Urban Square)," Wolfe Wesle, farmers market president, said earlier this week.
The final phase of the Urban Square project involves the construction of four- and five-storey office buildings on the west side of the property. The buildings would have Class A office space, a relative rarity in downtown Kelowna, as well as retail premises on the ground floors.
Together, the two buildings would have 9,290 square metres of leasable or saleable office and retail space.
Construction timing depends on market conditions, but Tebbutt says there have already been preliminary inquires from firms that collectively would lease about a third of the available space.
"That's encouraging, to have so much interest already in a project at this stage," Tebbutt said.