Towers

Short-term rental units have been dropped from the plans for these three towers proposed for downtown Kelowna. City council will consider whether to approve the project on Dec. 8.

Revised plans for three downtown Kelowna high-rises, with 650 new homes, will be considered by city council on Dec. 8.

 

The proposal - including towers of 42, 28, and 24 storeys - is planned for a long-blighted section of Leon Avenue between City Park and Water Street.

 

By a 7-1 vote, council rejected a request from the developer in September that would have allowed almost 200 of the units to be used as short-term rentals.

 

Now, the suites are planned to be owner-occupied, with no provision for renting them out on a short-term basis to tourists through online platforms such as Airbnb.

 

Municipal staff are recommending council grant the necessary height variances, saying the project will bring hundreds of new residents to downtown and help revitalize the area.

 

"Overall, staff are recommending support for the project due to its ability to deliver a significant amount of residential density to the downtown including a mixture of residential unit types," planners write in a report to council.

 

"The project should help lead revitalization efforts along the Leon Avenue corridor and hopefully trigger further positive investment and redevelopment," planners say.

 

The project would have ground-floor commercial premises, and a timber bridge would link two of the towers.

 

Dubbed 'Water Street by the Park', the development proposal being advanced by Anthony Beyrouti, a Vancouver, founder of a successful ticket-reselling agency called Venue Kings.

 

"The project is in close proximity to bike and walking trails and (is) a viable alternative to urban sprawl," Beyrouti's architect, Robert Cesnik, writes in the development application to the city.

 

The request before council in September would have allowed 198 of the then-planned 730 suites to be used for short-term rentals.

 

Councillors have limited the areas where short-term rentals are allowed, to provide more long-term housing stock, and they were not willing to make an exception for Beyrouti's original project.

 

However, several councillors indicated they would likely support the proposal if it was reconfigured to drop the short-term rentals, as Beyrouti has now done.

 

"If you were to build all residential market housing there, while it may not be your original vision, it would be transformative to the area and, from a city perspective, it would be warmly welcomed," Coun. Brad Sieben told Beyrouti in September.