Redevelopment plan for Kelowna’s Capri Centre carries ‘wow’ factor for council

Council likes what it hears about the plans to change to the home of the existing mall into a mixed use residential/retail 'community.'

The owner of the Capri Centre says his ambitious plan to redevelop the site with residential highrises, retail space, a market square green space and a public park complete with the city’s second open-air ice-rink, is all about creating community.

“We want to make this a livable area where people want to come to,” said Graham Lee, head of RG Properties, the company behind the redevelopment plan.

On Monday, Kelowna council was presented with more information about the proposal, which was first taken to council 15 months ago and received initial approval.

The plan calls for the eventual replacement of the existing shopping mall with a mixture of housing, retail and neighbourhood amenities, as well as green spaces and access corridors.

As its predecessor did in 2014, the current council gushed over the plans.

“Wow, what a wow factor,” said Coun. Maxine DeHart of the proposed plan, adding she thought it was “pretty exciting and bold.”

Coun. Charlie Hodge said it was great to see the redevelopment plan moving forward, something that’s time had come.

The plan, which will be phased over as many as 15 to 20 years, calls for buildings no taller than six storeys along the Harvey Avenue frontage.

They will have to be at least six metres back from the road. Under the plan the existing Capri Hotel would remain while virtually all the parking would be below grade.

But while the eight-storey hotel will stay, it will be dwarfed by at least one tower that could be as tall as 26 storeys in the middle of the large site.

Several other buildings farther back could be as tall as 22 storeys.

Lee said the first area of the site being considered for redevelopment is the southeast corner because that would have the least immediate impact on the existing Capri Mall.

In addition to multiple entry points to the site from all directions under the new plan and a reduced emphasis on automobiles, the redevelopment would also include a new community park with an open air ice rink at the south end.

The plan is the second major redevelopment of a large site along Harvey Avenue.

The Central Green site, a few kilometres to the west and closer to the downtown core at Richter Street and Harvey Avenue, is currently undergoing a similar redevelopment—but without the highrises.

The Central Green project location was once the home of Kelowna Senior Secondary School.

Both Mayor Colin Basran and Coun. Brad Sieben noted the history of the Capri Centre site, saying when the Capozzi family first developed it in the 1960s, it was the original shopping centre for Kelowna and on the outskirts of town.

Basran called RG Properties’ proposal as “well-thought out.”

“It’s indicative of where we are going as a community,” he said. “It’s everything we, as a community, have been looking for.”

Coun. Gail Given said while there was a time the proposed building heights may have raised eyebrows on council, that was not the case any more.

Given said building higher is welcome in a development such as what’s proposed for the Capri site due to the increased density and site size.

She said the planned tall towers will not have the same impact that they might elsewhere in the city.

“I would urge staff to maintain the heights where possible,” she said.

She also noted the close proximity to transportation links, such as a Rapid Bus stop at the property on Harvey and other bus stops along the southern, Sutherland Avenue side.

 

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