Kelowna council tosses Monaco highrise project a last-minute life-line

Council defers a decision on the controversial proposed downtown development despite the fact it still feels it's too big.

An artists rendition of the twin tower Monaco project at the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street. While this picture does not make it clear

Kelowna city council has given the developers of what city staff say could be a “precedent-setting” development for downtown a last-chance life-line by deferring a decision to send it to public hearing.

Premier Pacific Properties, which wants to build the two-tower Monaco development at the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street, went back to council

Monday with a revised plan, after its first proposal was shot down by council earlier this year.

At that time, the first proposal was deemed too big and bulky for the parcel of land it was to be placed on, and too close to a neighbouring residential tower, the Madison.

The two proposed 26-storey towers of the development were considered too close at just 9.5 metres apart. Each tower was to contain condominiums.

The new proposal is for two towers—one 22 storeys tall and the other 30 storeys tall—19.6 metres apart on a four-storey base that would include commercial development. The first eight stories of the shorter of the two tower would contain a hotel.

But all city councillors expressed concern about the new plan, saying while they wanted to see something built on the land, they felt the footprint of the 30-storey northern tower was far too big at a proposed 822.6 square-metres.

The city’s new downtown plan sets the maximum at 697 square-metres. The separation of the two towers, while increased, is still far short of the required distance set out in the downtown plan guidelines.

The shorter tower, however, is skinnier than originally proposed.

“The developer is asking for a variance (for height of one tower) but is not doing the work which is required to get it,” said Coun. Andre Blanleil about the lack of change in the tower’s floorplate size.

While city planning staff recommended council not approve the plan because of the separation distance, an attempt by Coun. Luke Stack to move a motion that would have sent it to public hearing anyway failed to garner a seconder.

In questioning by Coun. Colin Basran, Premier Pacific’s Tyler Dueck said reducing the size of the floorplate of the north tower would make the project not financially viable.

That seemed to leave council with no choice but to reject it.

But in order to keep the proposal alive and not kill it before giving the public a say, council agreed to defer the whole proposal to allow the developer and the city planning staff to discuss how, if possible, the floorplate size of the northern tower could be reduced, notwithstanding Dueck’s comment to Basran.

Earlier in council’s discussion, several councils said the required floorplate maximum size of 697 square-metres was not simple aesthetics, but rather sound planning principles.

Despite that, council, with its deferral motion, indicated it may be willing to vary that stand.

One councillor, Mohini Singh, said given that this is the first downtown proposal since the adoption of the Downtown Plan, it needed to have a “wow factor” to it.

But she felt it was too big and bulky because of the northern tower’s floorplate size.

 

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