A controversial 25-storey tower will replace the former Kelowna RCMP station, ending a four-year redevelopment process that will change the face of the downtown core.
Kelowna city councillors voted 6-2 this week in favour of a rezoning and development permits for 350 Doyle Ave., with Coun. Charlie Hodge and Mohini Singh opposed.
The original proposal by Rise Properties Ltd., now operating as Appelt Properties, was for a 13-storey, mixed-use building with 316 residential units. The amended design has a slimmer and taller building of 25 storeys and 259 residential units: 100 studios, 99 one-bedrooms and 60 two-bedrooms units. The aim is 18% affordable rentals, 15% subsidized rentals and the rest market units.
The four-year process began in September 2018 when council endorsed the long-term lease (80-year term with 20-year renewal option) and redevelopment process, and opened it up for proposals.
The approved project will have a 20-storey tower on top of a five-storey, two-tiered podium with above-ground parking and includes: a 557-square-metre community amenity space called Creative Hub on two floors valued at $2.5 million; extension of the Artwalk south to Doyle Avenue and construction of a Civic Plaza valued at $1.8 million; 1,384 square metres of retail space, and 1,305 square metres of office space. The facade of the Creative Hub will have eight “mural bays” with the intent to engage local artists in creating murals or installations.
“While the variance represents a departure from the original premise, the podium and tower form provides an alternative way of arranging the desired density and massing on-site and comes as a result of the developer’s planning and public consultation process over the past two years,” said planner Kimberly Brunet.
“The location of the tower away from Doyle Avenue and towards the rear of the property provides a degree of favourable spacing to neighbouring properties, such as the Innovation Centre and the Madison, as well as provides less shadowing impact to the ArtWalk on the western side.”
The taller building will result in it being visible from many spots in the downtown, and will create greater prominence and profile, she said.
“While the building height is a departure from the original plan, the mixed-use project does deliver key housing objectives, quality retail spaces, the extension of the ArtWalk, a new cultural community space and a quality architectural design.”
A civic group called Kelowna Legacy argued that because the tower’s proposed design changed from 13 to 25 storeys, the project should be cancelled and the development opened up to a new round of bidding.
“We believe the average citizen would look at this situation and feel something is just not right,” the group said in a recent press release.
Group members include lawyer Paul Mitchell, businessman and philanthropist Al Hildebrandt, mayoral candidate Tom Dyas and Okanagan College instructor Laura Thurnheer.