High-rise proposals shelved for now

Developers behind Central Green neighbourhood don't see a market for residential towers in Kelowna at this time.

The lowdown on Kelowna’s showpiece Central Green development is that it won’t be getting highrises—at least not right away.

Plans to build three residential towers on the site as part of its redevelopment have been shelved in favour of low-level condominiums buildings.

New plans for the site call for three, four-storey, wood-frame condominium buildings first for the site, farther back from Harvey Avenue, adjacent to a planned new large park slated on the property.

The original concept for Central Green called for three highrises, ranging from between 12- to 18-storeys along the Harvey Avenue side of the site.

The towers, if built, would contain apartment units.

The reworked plan for the portion of Central Green bought by Kelowna developer Al Stober Construction—now working in partnership with another large local developer, Mission Group Homes—is expected to be presented to the public and city council before the end of September.

Jonathan Friesen, chief executive officer of the Mission Group, said Thursday his company will build the low-level, condominium buildings while Stober will deal with the highrise towers, possibly at a later date.

Central Green, the 13-acre former home of the Kelowna Secondary School, is located at Richter Street and Harvey Avenue and is currently under development on parcels owned by several different companies.

Last week, the first building on the site opened at the southwest corner, the new 36-unit KARIS Support Society facility for women dealing with mental health and addiction issues.

Another social housing project, an 86-unit building to be run by the Ki-low-na Friendship Society, is currently under construction at the northwest corner. It has an expected opening of mid-2016.

Earlier this week, Stober announced it is working with the Mission Group on the large portion of the site it bought for $6 million in 2014.

In a news release, Friesen said his company was excited to be part of what he called “the inspired green living” that the overall Central Green plan calls for.

The new five-acre Rowcliffe Park that is slated for the back of the site will be built by the city along Rowcliffe Avenue starting in 2017.

Friesen said there was no appetite from either the city nor area residents for highrises overlooking the park.

Central Green is slated to be Kelowna’s first community certified in Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

This LEED-certified neighbourhood will combine green building practices with smart growth principles such as development density, proximity to transit, land-use, and multi-modal transportation.

Located close to downtown, as well as near other key city sites such as Kelowna General Hospital, Central Green has long been touted for its development potential.

Friesen said unlike when a company builds a single building, for this project his firm will have direct input on aspects of the overall development, something he said is very exciting for them.

While the Mission Group has built a lot of housing developments in the city, it does not build highrises.

On the other hand, Al Stober Construction does, and is the firm perhaps best known for building the Landmark campus of highrises along Harvey Avenue across from the Parkinson Recreation Centre.