Shape of something never built

The Lucaya high-rise was supposed to be built on Sunset Drive. After years of inactivity, representatives of the company that owns the site met last week with City of Kelowna planning officials.

22 + 30 + 21 + 24 + 11 = 108

Kelowna's skyline would look a lot different today if all the high-rise projects previously approved by the city had been built as planned.

Five buildings with a total of 108 storeys have all received endorsement from city council in the past few years. But none of them are finished, and work may not ever begin on some of them.

So council's approval this week of a 24 storey downtown hotel does not, in and of itself, mean the project will certainly go ahead.

Edmonton-based Westcorp Inc. says construction will begin sometime next year, but other developers have said similarly confident things after receiving all the necessary city approvals.

The projects have foundered for a variety of reasons, including changing real estate conditions, financing problems, and the lingering effects of the recession in 2008.

Here's a look at some of the already-approved, high-profile highrises that, for various reasons, continue to exist only in the imagination:

Lucaya - Plans for a 21-storey, luxury-oriented highrise on Sunset Drive were abandoned when the recession began in 2008. A partially-completed, often-graffitied underground garage gives bleak testament to the failed dream.

The site was bought by Richmond-based Jingon International Development in 2012 for $3.8 million in a court-ordered sale. Last Friday, the company sent its architect and engineer up to Kelowna to meet with city staff about ways to revive the project.

The company is still interested in a tower of about that height, city planner Ryan Smith says, but the suites would be smaller. The company will engage in market research to test potential demand.

24 – The Aquilini family of Vancouver received permission in 2009 to build a 26-storey tower on Bernard Avenue. The company's website describes it as an “upcoming” project, but the approvals lapsed at the end of 2013.

The company still owns the site, however, and may eventually revive the project in a revised form, Smith says.

Monaco – Two towers, of 22 and 30 storeys, were approved for the north-west corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street in early 2013. However, the company has still not posted a landscaping bond or provided a required payment for parking considerations. These are normally routine matters.

Last year, company officials said construction could start in the fall. This year, they've said the same thing.

Planners are likely to keep the file open until April 2015, Smith said.

Sopa Square – probably the most well-chronicled failed local development is what was supposed to have been an 11-storey project in the South Pandosy district.

The project fell into receivership and no one has yet been found who is willing to take it over.

On the other side of the development ledger, Argus Properties is currently talking to city planning staff about a 26-storey hotel at the corner of Manhattan Drive and Sunset Drive.

A rezoning of the site would be required, but the project conforms to the Official Community Plan. The matter should reach a city council agenda in late September or early October.