Conservatory building will turn into rental apartments

Construction  is underway again on the troubled Conservatory residential project in Glenmore.  - Jennifer Smith/Capital News
Construction is underway again on the troubled Conservatory residential project in Glenmore.
— image credit: Jennifer Smith/Capital News

Glenmore residents can breathe a sigh of relief—the controversial, half-finished building that’s plagued their neighbourhood for the better part of a decade is in the process of a rebirth.

The Conservatory, expected to soon be given a new name, is again under construction as the developer behind the work-in-progress says he expects rental tenants to be able to move in during the early months of 2012.

“We’ve been working on this for around two years, but we didn’t start doing the physical work until the last three to four weeks,” said Bob Buvyer, of Sunstar Ventures, the company that’s worked with City of Kelowna staff and banks to take on the project as part of the 16 acres that were left behind by the Marshall family after the project went into receivership.

Working with Sunstar are the Conservatory’s original engineer and architect, and while it may be safe to assume they’ll be glad to finally see their project take shape, the new concept doesn’t necessarily line up with the original idea.

“The market for strata properties isn’t strong, so that’s why this is going to be a rental,” said Buvyer, noting that it’s going to be “luxurious” addition to the rental market.

“The big difference is we’re building this for locals, while the previous owners were building a resort.”

The rest of the 16 acres will also be taking a significantly different form than what was previously envisioned.

“This will be the tallest building,” said Buvyer, pointing to the Conservatory, as workers scaled scaffolding and set the stage for new siding.

“But the concept for the rest is a new neighbourhood with some commercial, and some lower density residential —the density dropped significantly from previous plans.”

That aspect of the development, however, is for some time in the future as Buvyer stressed that the focus is really getting the Conservatory building up to snuff.

Already, the first six floors are complete, the building has a new roof and half the siding is complete. The top floors will be finished shortly and any missing siding is being filled in.

It’s still early days for the development that’s been troubled by several starts and stops, but City of Kelowna staff, who have been working with Sunstar on zoning amendments, are pleased with the project’s new forward direction.

After nearly three years of legal and logistical wrangling, Sunstar has offered a plan that may remove the thorn from their collective side.

“We’ve been dealing with this for a number of years and a number of developer teams have been interested in developing the property,” said Jim Paterson, City of Kelowna  general manager of sustainability. “This team has been successful and staff are certainly pleased to be working with the Kelowna based developer for the successful completion of phase one.”

Further information about the new plan will be made available in coming weeks.


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