Old home

Praised for its "austere simplicity", this 80-year-old home on Abbott Street could be shifted and repurposed as an office to free up room for a new duplex on the lot. Kelowna city council will consider the proposal on Monday.

An Abbott Street home built in 1939 for a Kelowna businessman could be repurposed as office space.

Owners of the 'Murchison Home' at the corner of Abbott and Riverside Avenue one block south of Harvey Avenue hope  to get city permission to shift the structure slightly to the west, keeping it on the same lot.

That would free up room to build a new duplex on the property.

The older home - described architecturally as 'Mediterranean Revival" - would receive a formal heritage designation, ensuring it would be preserved substantially as-is for the foreseeable future.

"Once the property is designated by the bylaw, the owner must obtain a heritage alteration permit to make any exterior alterations in the future," reads part of a staff report to council.

Use of the old 1,500 sq.-ft. home as a small office is said to be compatible with the Abbott Street setting, given its proximity to downtown.

The redevelopment idea, which city council is expected to send Monday to an upcoming public hearing, is described in the report as a locally unprecedented yet "thoughtful and creative proposal that is a good model of conservation and evolution for a historic neighbourhood".

The new duplex would be like a "grandson of the historic house, genetically related but taller and wearing modern clothes", the report says.

Earl E. Murchison, owner of Orchard City Motors, had the original home built in 1939 and lived there until 1966. It's described on the city's list of significant old buildings as having an "austere simplicity" that was unique for its time.

The property is within the distinctive Abbott Street Heritage Conservation Area, which contains about 325 homes. "The development styles represented in this area offer a variety of residential architecture dating between the 1890s and the 1960s," a separate city report states.

"Streets, lanes, and roads in the area vary in their geometry and cross-section and are considered a significant feature of the historical pattern of the area," the report says.