Kelowna council asked to approve one highrise downtown and reject two others

City staff like a proposal for a 27-storey tower on Bernard but say a twin-tower proposal is to big and bulky.

Kelowna city council is being asked to approve plans for a 27-storey highrise tower downtown, while at the same time being asked to reject a proposal for a twin-tower highrise development just a few blocks away.

City planning staff like the proposed tower for Bernard Avenue, between Pandosy Street and Ellis Street, to be called 24, and are recommending council approve a series of requested variances, one of which would see the height grow from the original proposed 44 metres to 76.5 metres. Setbacks from the edge of the property lines to less than two metres are also recommended. If the variance is approved, the building would be one of the tallest buildings in the city. It would feature ground level commercial space with the floors above being used for residential units.

Originally approved (at a lower height)  in 2009 by the ouncil of the day, but shelved because of the downturn in the economy, the building is seen by city staff as a possible catalyst to spur development downtown.

According to the staff report, which will go to council Tuesday, construction of 24 could mean hundreds more people living downtown.

The city’s recently endorsed downtown plan includes allowances for buildings of 26-storeys high in parts of the downtown core but only if they meet strict requirements and have an appealing design.

The 24 building would have 205 bachelor, one -bedroom and two-bedroom residential suits and incorporate what the city calls a “high level of design” that would match the existing, adjoining Lulu Lemon store at the corner of Pandosy and Bernard.

Meanwhile, city staff are recommending council reject a series of variance proposals being asked for by the developers of another downtown project, two proposed highrises at near the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street.

That proposed development, to be known as the Monaco, would be located behind, and very close to, the existing Madison highrise residential building located at the corner of Doyle Avenue and Ellis Street.

Featuring a tower of 22 storeys and another one, 26-storeys tall, city staff feel the proposed development is too big and bulky for the small site.

Like the tower slated for Bernard Avenue, the developer is asking for variances that would increase the heights of the two towers from the original 44 metres tall. One would grow to to 63.4 metres and the other to 74.3  metres.

If allowed, the buildings would be the most prominent in the city, says the staff report going to council.

But the “sheer bulk” and massing of the two towers does not meet the objectives of what the city considers a “vibrant and liveable” downtown.

Earlier this month, a resident of the Madison wrote a letter to the Capital News asking council to it to reject the proposal for the Monaco, accusing it of riding  “roughshod” over existing city rules.

Maxwell Mosley said the problem is that the developer wants to build an extra 22-storey tower just 10 feet from a 26-storey tower on a site that is too small to accommodate both.

Council was to have been presented with the variance applications for both the 24 and the Monaco projects at its evening meeting on Tuesday, March 6, but late Thursday the city said while a rezoning permit will be considered for the Monaco project by council at its Monday meeting, on Tuesday it will consider a request to defer the variance applications for that project to a future date.