Controversial Kelowna tower high-rise proposal draws a response

Kelowna City Hall has received more than 50 letters and e-mails leading up to next week's public hearing.

A public hearing for a project that could see two high-rise residential towers built at the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street in downtown Kelowna is shaping up to be a busy evening.

So far, city hall has received about 50 letters and e-mails about the Monaco project, with most opposed to the massive development. The project is proposing twin towers of 22  and 26 storeys, fronted at street level by a four-storey building that would contain commercial and office space.

While the project requires several variances in order to proceed, city staff is recommending council reject the proposal, saying the development is too big and bulky for the site. In a report sent to council earlier this month, staff said proposed height of the two towers would dominate the city skyline in a negative way, cast shadows and create wind tunnel effect.

Based on the city’s new rules for tall buildings, the Monaco development would also be too close to the rear of the nearby Madison high-rise, unless a variance is granted.

During council’s discussion about the city’s new building height policy earlier this year, the Monaco development proposal was pointed to as one that would not meet the requirements.

The developer, Premier Pacific Group, took out half-page newspaper advertisements earlier this week in a bid to drum up support for the project, touting it as a “new approach”  to high-rise living in the city.

Calling it a development that would offer affordable housing for most buyers, the advertisement said the units would be priced for “even those of modest income who would like to live in an upscale building.”

The advertisement also touted the “green” features of the proposed development, such as green roofs, rainwater capture systems, passive solar glazing, six “share” cars provided to reduce the need for some residents to own their own vehicle, a bicycle share program and other energy conserving features.

It claims the building will also help revitalize downtown and add 500 more residents to the area.

In addition to the Monaco, another, unrelated high-rise project is also slated for downtown and would also add hundred more resident to the downtown core area.

That building, to be called 24, is a proposed 27-storey tower to be build on Bernard Avenue between Pandosy Street and St. Paul Street. That development was approved by the former city council but the project was put on hold by the developer, the Aquilini Development, because of the economy.Plans for the building were recently reactivated.

Premier Pacific Group claims the Monaco’s construction alone will result in 500 person years of onsite employment.

Addressing the need for the variances, the newspaper advertisement said they are needed to lower construction costs in order to create “attainable” housing.

The public hearing, slated to start at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night in council chambers at City Hall, will address the developer’s request for the variances.

It will be the first test of the new city council when it comes to deciding on a controversial development.

During the November civic election campaign, Mayor Walter Gray and several of the candidates including those who were successful, were critical of how the previous council handled development proposals in the city.