Minutes after Kelowna city council approved a three-tower plan for a long-blighted area of downtown, a new webpage promoting the ambitious revitalization project was activated.
Anthony Beyrouti says he hopes to start construction later this year on the first phase of a massive redevelopment of the 200 block of Leon Avenue that would include Kelowna's tallest building.
"We're very excited with council's support," Beyrouti said Wednesday. "We intend to build something spectacular there, and we're excited to get to work on it."
The three towers, of 42, 28, and 24 storeys, will have 650 homes. Beyrouti says pre-sales will start this spring and he predicts strong demand given the proximity to Okanagan Lake and City Park.
"Real estate in downtown Kelowna, particularly the last couple months, has been selling very quickly," Beyrouti said. "We're very confident this is the right opportunity."
Council voted 7-2 Tuesday night to support the project despite some misgivings about the overall size of the development.
But Beyrouti said in an interview Wednesday the ambitious scale was necessary to transform an area of downtown that has seen no new development for many years and which has long been associated with homelessness, open drug use, and other social problems.
"One of the reasons why we're building so many units in three towers is because we do believe that you need to actually transform the narrative for the area," he said.
"If we'd have said, 'Let's put 100 units in', it wouldn't change the narrative. It would just be a Band-Aid. We don't want a Band-Aid. We want something that's spectacular," he said.
Other much-touted downtown Kelowna highrise proposals have been approved and then never built – such as a 26-storey building on Bernard Avenue once proposed by Vancouver's Aquilini family and two towers, of 22 and 30 storeys, once planned for the northwest corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street.
But other downtown highrises, notably the One Water Street project by Kerkhoff Construction and the Bertram and Brooklyn towers advanced by Mission Group, are either well underway or nearing completion.
Although he has never undertaken a development project of the magnitude he has planned for Leon Avenue, Beyrouti says he won't be shopping the project around to other builders now that the necessary city approvals are in place.
Beyrouti, who made his fortune with Vancouver-based ticket reseller VenueKings, bought the necessary properties on Leon Avenue and Lawrence Avenue for several million dollars in 2018. "I've spent a lot of money getting ready for this," he said.
While he agreed he could presumably recoup that investment and also profit by selling the land with the city-granted approvals, Beyrouti said that's not the plan.
"There's no intention of selling," he said. "We're going full steam ahead."
- The marketing website that launched moments after council's approval is waterstreetbythepark.com