The planned Westcorp Hotel is slated for the foot of Queensway, on the downtown Kelowna lakeshore. —Image: contributed

Construction to start on new Kelowna high-rise hotel before the end of 2019

Westcorp say it will open a sales centre downtown in the spring to start selling condos in the tower

The company behind plans for a 33-storey hotel on the downtown Kelowna lakeshore has a new timeline for construction.

Westcorp says it intends to start building the hotel before the end of 2019.

But first the company says it plans to open a sales centre to start selling the 50 to 58 condominiums that will be located on the top floors of the building.

Shane Styles, director of real estate for Westcorp said Thursday the sales centre will be located at 327 Bernard Avenue. It will open next spring.

Styles said while it’s not yet clear exactly how many condominiums will be available, the exact number will be known by the time the sales centre opens.

The long-awaited hotel, which will not only be the tallest building in the city but also tallest building between Vancouver and Calgary, is slated for the site of the former Willow Inn Hotel at the foot of Queensway, kitty corner to Kelowna city hall.

RELATED: Kelowna council approves 33-storey downtown hotel tower

The start of construction has been delayed several times, including for a major redesign of the building and also because of the province’s announcement of a speculation tax in Kelowna and West Kelowna on second properties owned by British Columbians and out-of-province residents.

Styles said while the announcement of the tax did have a direct impact on the timing of construction and could affect some people who were interested in buying units in the building, the project has garnered good interest from many others. Prices of the condominiums have not yet been released.

The majority of the building will be the 174 hotel rooms and associated hotel amenities, including convention facilities. There will also be some commercial space on the ground floor. The elliptical hotel/condo tower will sit on a six-storey podium building.

Earlier this year, Kelowna city council agreed to a Westcorp request to increase the height of the building from the originally approved 26 storeys to 33 storeys, after the developer had its Spanish architect redesign the tower to accommodate the condominiums. At the time, Westcorp said the residential units were needed to make the project financially viable. In addition to the condos, two floors of underground parking were also added.

When city council approved the extra height, some councillors praised project, predicting it would be an “iconic” local structure, a “beacon” for the city and a building that would “put Kelowna on the map.”

The hotel is one of a string of residential high-rise towers approved for the downtown area in recent years, including a 21-storey residential tower, 1151 Sunset Drive, the 36- and 29-storey One Water Street residential towers next door, the 20-storey Ella residential tower on Lawrence Avenue and the 14-story Ellis Parc residential tower at Prospera Place. All five residential towers are now under construction. A 25-storey residential tower, Brooklyn at Bernard Block, has also been approved for the site of the former Bargain Store on Bernard Avenue.

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