Neighbour didn’t want hotel
Wayne Moore - May 28, 2024 - Biz Releases

Photo: Wayne Moore

Negotiations between the Mark Anthony Group and owners of a neighbouring property fell apart, killing plans for a boutique hotel and forcing the developer to pivot to a new, smaller design.

In order to construct the 12-storey on the former Keg Restaurant site at the corner of Water Street and Lawrence Avenue, a no-build covenant was required from the neighbouring building owner.

“In order to have windows facing that neighbouring property line you would need to have essentially a no-build covenant agreement. The agreement fell apart with the neighbour,” city planner Adam Cseke told city council Monday afternoon.

Verbal agreement

A representative of the Mark Anthony Group said there was a verbal agreement in place but when it came time to sign the agreement it fell apart.

“We were quite upset about that,” the representative said. “We would like to build a hotel eventually in the city of Kelowna if things permit, but at this time we would like to activate that site and build something there.”

The developer informed staff just two weeks ago of the change.

The proposal to vary the height from three to four storeys and increase the floor area ratio is the third in four years. After council approved the original three-storey building, demolition of the former building began.

However, when they were unable to obtain liquor licensing, work stopped in July 2021.

Site becoming an eyesore

“The application I would say is very emotional for council as what we have sitting in a big part of our community is becoming a little bit of an eyesore I would say,” Mayor Tom Dyas said.

“Our concern is that property has been sitting the way it’s been sitting for the length of time it has been sitting with a crane stuck in the middle of our street. It’s concerning if we are approving this today that potentially without moving anything forward it could sit for another two years.”

Council did wonder whether the city could intervene with the neighbour to try and negotiate an agreement between the two parties.

Willing to have talks

Director of planning Ryan Smith said while staff would be willing to have those discussions, staff is also trying to push the developer to either move ahead or move the crane and do something else.

“At this point the applicant has been considering their options and moving forward to public hearing with this option is the best case scenario. Maybe the applicant can share some concepts at public hearing where they are feeling like going,” Smith said.

“Maybe between here and then they hear what council’s discussion today has been and choose a different course. The priority is to get something going.”

Cseke said the plan of the developer is to come forward with a development permit application next month and begin construction in the summer.

The crane is back up and some site work is again taking place.

Council voted 7-1 to move forward to public hearing with Coun. Charlie Hodge opposed citing a concern over height. Coun. Mohini Singh was absent.

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