Construction starts at Kelowna’s first downtown residential high-rise

The 20-storey Ella tower, at Lawrence Avenue and Ellis Street, will take 21 months to build

Construction of the first residential high-rise in Kelowna’s downtown core is now officially underway.

A ceremonial shoveling of dirt was performed Tuesday on the site at the corner of Lawrence Avenue and Ellis Street by dignitaries including Jonathan Friesen, CEO of the the Mission Group, the company building the 20-storey Ella tower, Mayor Colin Basran, Downtown Kelowna Association vice-president Yarden Gershony and representatives of several area businesses.

The tower will feature 116 condominiums as well as commercial space on the ground floor. According to Friesen 80 per cent of the condominiums are already sold. The building is expected to be complete in 21 months.

“Today we are proud to celebrate the official start of construction of the first ever concrete high-rise in Kelowna’s Bernard District,” said Friesen.

“We are honoured to break ground alongside owners of local businesses who have helped transform downtown Kelowna into a dynamic and lively destination full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment.”

The Ella tower is the first of what could be several tall buildings in the downtown area, with plans for a 33-storey hotel/condominium tower already approved for the foot of Queensway and plans for a multi-tower development on the former Bargain Store site on Bernard Avenue .

There are several other sites in the immediate downtown area that city hall says have been identified as possible locations of future high-rise towers.

Basran said the growing interest in building up in downtown—there are other towers standing, under construction and planned for the nearby North End—reflects the current condition of the property market in the city, the desirable nature of living downtown and the demand for multi-family housing in the city.

And the towers are changing the Kelowna skyline.

“Ella’s ground-breaking marks the future of urban living in Kelowna,” said Luke Turri, vice-president of development for Mission Group.

The land the Ella tower will sit on was sold to the Mission Group by the city, which Basran said wanted to see a mixed use residential-commercial tower on the property when it has, for several years, been a parking lot.

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