Murchison House

An Abbott Street home built in 1939 could be transformed into an office and receive a “grandson” building next door.

Plans given preliminary approval Monday by Kelowna city council show the Murchison House at 1781 Abbott St. being shifted slightly on the lot. That would free up room for a new duplex on the property.

The new duplex would be like a “grandson of the historic house, genetically related but taller and wearing modern clothes,” a report to council states.

Described as “Mediterranean Revival,” the old home would receive a formal heritage designation, ensuring it would be preserved into the foreseeable future. A maximum of five people could work in the 1,500-square-foot home-turned-office.

The redevelopment, which council agreed to send to a public hearing on Oct. 22, is described in the report as a “thoughtful and creative proposal that is a good model of conservation and evolution for a historic neighbourhood.”

However, it could be a controversial idea for some advocates of heritage preservation, many of whom have resisted commercial intrusions into the Abbott Street Heritage Conservation Area (ASHCA).

Somebody in the gallery shouted out against the project on Monday, but was quickly silenced by Mayor Colin Basran.

“You’ll have an opportunity to address us at the public hearing,” Basran said.

There are about 325 homes in the ASHCA. Only about nine of them have some form of a commercial component, council heard from staff.