Construction of planned new downtown Kelowna hotel put on hold

Westcorp says it is delaying the start of construction of its 24-storey hotel at the foot of Queensway until late 2017.

An artist's rendering of the planned new Westcorp hotel at the foot of Queensway in Kelowna.

The company planning to build a new 24-storey hotel on Kelowna’s downtown waterfront says it is delaying the start of construction by nearly a year to make revisions to its plan.

Westcorp announced Wednesday afternoon that it has has decided to delay construction  in order to accommodate what it is calling the the exploration of some “desired design revisions.”

Details of what those revisions are was not immediately revealed.

Construction is now not expected to get underway until the latter part of 2017. It was originally scheduled to start earlier this year, in the spring.

Stressing the move is a delay, not a suspension, of the project, Westcorp said building permit fees already collected by the City of Kelowna will remain in place.

Phil Milroy, president and CEO of Westcorp said the reason for the revisions at such a late date in the project’s development, is because company has been “grappling” with changes it wants to make for several months and feel this is the right time make them. He promised the delay will be worth it in the long-run.

According to Milroy, the changes are expected to improve the functionality, performance and success of the project.

“We want to deliver a special project,” he said. “We believe the wait will be worth it.”

Gail Temple, vice-president of operations for Westcorp also said while the Edmonton-based company is aware the public in Kelowna has been waiting with great expectation for construction to start, she also feels the wait will be worth it.

“While this delay is potentially disappointing, we will work through our revisions in as timely a way as possible and present (them) in 2017,” she said.

“We are committed to excellence with this hotel and site, and are very excited about the possibilities of the end result.”

The planned elliptical-shaped tower is slated for land the company owns at the corner of Queensway and Water Street. The site is currently a parking lot. The buildings that were on the site were demolished earlier this year.

The hotel will front onto Kerry Park and the downtown lakeshore and has been described by proponents as a future landmark for the city and a “statement” building for the downtown core.

As part of the hotel project, Mill Street will eventually close, with part of the street becoming a portion of the hotel site and the other part used to expand and revitalize Kerry Park.