Plans to build the Capri-Landmark area into a new urban hub are a reflection of this city’s history, says Kelowna historian Bob Hayes.
Hayes was just five years old in 1959 when Capri Centre Mall opened its doors, signalling unprecedented growth in the area.
“It was huge when it was built and it wasn’t even in the City of Kelowna, it was in the municipality of Glenmore,” he said, adding that it was probably clear to policy makers at that time it was only a matter of time before amalgamation.
“When it was built, people were saying, ‘What are they thinking?’ It was far from the downtown, away from Pandosy, and it was controversial.”
Pasquale (Cap) Capozzi and the pioneering Pridham family built the shopping centre —marketed as the first of its kind between Vancouver and Calgary—on what was then the biggest pear orchard in the Commonwealth.
Times, however, had changed and the orchard was flattened and plans for the shopping centre came to fruition.
All the shops faced onto Gordon Drive, which was a main road with a lot of hotels.
“It was changing point for Kelowna. It was a recognition that downtown was expanding,” he said, adding that at the time where it was now and from there, north, it was all farmland and orchards.
“This was the first development of the downtown core away from Bernard Avenue, away from South Pandosy, it was huge — I don’t think we can underestimate it, this may have been the beginning of tourism and shopping and a 180 turn from what we had before.”
Today, the Capri-Landmark Urban Centre is home to approximately 450 businesses supporting 5,200 jobs, making it Kelowna’s second largest employment centre.
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