Kelowna grants first downtown tax exemption to spur development

Owners of the Streaming Cafe get 50 per cent tax break to build new three-storey building.

The owners of the Kelowna’s Streaming Cafe are the first developers in the city to take advantage of a new tax exemption bylaw designed to encourage what city hall calls “quality” business developments.

Davara Holdings Ltd., owned by Club Penguin co-founder Dave Krysko and his wife, is planning to build a three-storey addition to its existing Streaming Cafe building at the corner of Leon Avenue and Bertram Street downtown and have won city council approval for a 50 per cent municipal tax exemption for the new building for the first 10 years of its existence.

“It’s encouraging to see this tax exemption being used now,” said Mayor Walter Gray. “I hope other property owners look at this option to revitalize the downtown incentive area and in the Rutland urban centre.”

The Revitalization Tax Exemption Bylaw was amended in 2011 as an incentive for property owners to invest in new projects that energize sections of urban centres. Properties within the two incentive areas can qualify for municipal share tax exemptions on the improvements of up to 100 per cent.

The bylaw applies to an area downtown bounded by Harvey Avenue, Lawrence Avenue, Ellis Street and the laneway behind Abbott Street. The Rutland urban centre incentive area covers a general area along Highway 33 between Rutland Road South and Hollywood Road.

The long-term objective of the agreements is to create places that attract pedestrians, commercial activity and residential development. Along with the commercial and esthetic benefits of energetic city streets, the compact arrangement of residences and businesses encourages more walking and requires less vehicle use. says the city.

While the existing one-story building that the Streaming Cafe is located in will be retained and have a roof garden added, the new three-storey building behind it will include new studio space and offices, as well as a street-level patio.

Fibre-optic cables have already been installed in the Streaming Cafe building in anticipation of the new building, which will feature parking below it, accessed off Bertram and the lane at the back of the site.

The Streaming Cafe currently provides an small live concert space, where performances are broadcast live over the Internet. Currently, the cafe draws audiences both to the downtown Kelowna site and has viewers  around the world tune in via the World Wide Web.

Krysko, along with partners, Lance Priebe and Lane Merrifield, sold Club Penguin, a massively popular multiplayer online role-playing game for children, to The Walt Disney Corporation in August 2007 for $350 million.