33-storey lakefront hotel one step closer to reality

It’s now one permit away from beginning construction.

After a two year pause on an ambitious downtown project due to COVID-19, there is some welcome news for the company behind a proposed 33-storey, waterfront mixed use tower.

In 2020, Westcorp was issued a development permit (DP) for the skyscraper. In March, they were days away from opening their presentation centre and announcing the name of the hotel and brand partner.

The pandemic changed those plans.

As the hotel industry was hit hard, the brand partner dialed back their operations and the tower project was put on hold. DPs are only effective for two years and Westcorp’s had expired earlier this year.

“While it is true that this project was delivered a significant blow with the forced pause, we still strongly believe in this project and are committed to trying to make it happen,” vice president Gail Temple said to city council.

She once again presented the largely unchanged proposal Tuesday night to apply for the DP. The site will be built at 289 Queensway, near the intersection of Water St.

Strong council support

Support was strong for the application and in a six to one vote, the permit was reissued by an enthusiastic City Council.

“I see a strong public amenity. There’s something good for the city,” councillor Mohini Singh said. “There’s something good for the average public, the average person, and this will be iconic.”

The next step in the process will be acquiring a building permit before shovels can break ground.

Restaurants and retail will be at street level of the tower. A sky dining and wine experience will take place on the 18th storey. Floors 7 to 17 will hold hotel rooms. Above those, from storeys 19 to 33, will be private residences, including the penthouse suite on the top two floors.

While support for the project was near unanimous, there was one vote against. Councillor Charlie Hodge acknowledged the beautiful look of the building but opposes high-rises along the waterfront.

“It’s the wrong location. It’s in the wrong spot. That is a park that in my mind has always been an icon for the people and should remain that way,” Hodge said in reference to Kerry Park.

Westcorp’s plans include investing in the park and the surrounding area with a streetscape and public realm contribution.

Kelowna’s downtown will look different in the coming years following Tuesday night’s council meeting. Not only was Westcorp given a DP, but also the 43-storey UBCO campus building, which will be the city’s tallest building.

“When you consider that tonight we just approved a downtown university campus and now we end the night by approving an iconic waterfront hotel, it just shows how progressive and vibrant our downtown has become,” Basran said.

“So, really looking forward to seeing it move forward and for our downtown to continue to thrive.”

Published 2022-09-21 by David Hanson

Get a fresh daily look

See what’s happening in and around our city, and the people who call it home.

Our newsroom abides by the RTNDA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and follows the Canadian Press Stylebook. If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to send us a news tip, please contact us.

Kelowna10 is division of Pattison Media, and strives to achieve the highest ethical standards in all that we do.