Another tower for downtown
Kirk Penton - Dec 05, 2018 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

Another high-rise building has been proposed for downtown Kelowna.

An undisclosed Kelowna-based development group has proposed Aura, a 22-storey, mixed-use structure to be built on the northeast corner of Harvey Avenue and Pandosy Street. The Dragon King currently sits on the lot, but the restaurant’s owner is one of Aura’s developers.

“The official community plan wants to see increased density in the downtown,” city planner Adam Cseke said. “This is close to the highway, transit node, downtown employment. There are a lot of positives about this development application.”

Aura will be different than other high-rise, downtown projects because the developers plan to use part of the building for short-term rentals only. The proposal includes 102 residential units, with 15 floors dedicated to residential use. Except for the penthouse level, each floor has proposed three “lock-off” units—or 42 overall—that could be used for short-term rentals. It all depends, of course, on what happens with the short-term rental regulations that are currently before city council.

“I think it’s one of the first developments in the Okanagan and/or Kelowna that we’re seeing lock-off units being proposed,” Cseke said. “This is a new type of development.”

The site doesn’t need rezoning, so it will need only one reading at city council, likely either in January or February. That means work could possibly start on the building next summer and be completed in a couple of years. The city worked hand-in-hand with the developers and New Town architects from the beginning, so chances are good there will be few roadblocks.

The only variances that need to occur are allowing for a 22-storey building in an area that permits only 12 storeys and a minor parking change.

“The proposed development is consistent with the city’s goal for increasing urban centre living and providing a mix of uses hosting vibrant commercial spaces at the lower levels and housing above,” the development proposal stated. “Although this proposal exceeds the forecast height for the area, the slender mid-rise tower form is more pleasing than a larger squat building with greater sky-blocking mass.”

The project was originally going to cover a larger area, but the developers were unable to acquire the neighbouring parking lot that sits on the northwest corner of Harvey and Ellis.

“(City) staff worked hard with the applicant to try to get the adjacent site,” Cseke said. “It’s very disappointing, actually, that there couldn’t be a co-ordination of development between this site and the adjacent site, but they were unable to come to terms.”

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