Progress on new Kelowna hotel

New 24-storey hotel planned for downtown Kelowna to begin ground drilling for test piles this week.

It’s not the start of construction, but work is finally happening on the site of a planned new hotel to be built in downtown Kelowna.

Described as an “iconic” building by city council when first approved, the 24-storey, elliptical-shaped hotel will be built by Edmonton-based Westcorp Development Management Inc.

It’s slated to be built at what has, in recent years, been a parking lot at the corner of Queensway and Mill Street, across from Kerry Park.

The site was once home to the Willow Inn Hotel.

According to Gail Temple, vice-president of stakeholder management for Westcorp in Kelowna, test piles will be drilled into the ground on the site later this week to ascertain the best foundation system for the hotel and to keep vibration to a minimum.

The company wants to have the hotel built and operational by early 2018, said Temple, meaning construction will have to start early next year to meet that goal.

In preparation for the drilling—expected to take place either Thursday or Friday this week—the site was fenced off late last week.

The fenced area is expected to be reduced in size by the end of this week to allow for use of many of the parking spots on the site for the Labour Day long weekend.

The parking lot is expected to be fully operational again by the third week of September.

Westcorp is working with Keller Foundations on the test piles and they will be drilled into the ground rather than driven so as not to create the vibrations or noise associated with traditional pile-driving, said Temple.

“The objective of the development team is to keep construction noise and vibration to an absolute minimum in order to lessen the impact on heritage structures and businesses in the vicinity,” she said.