The big derelict building that was once home to Woolworths department store and later to the Bargain Shop is a bit of a white elephant on Kelowna’s main drag.
The model of retail that it represents is increasingly untenable, which is likely the reason the shop closed its doors seven years ago.
Many expectations about what it could morph into have been floated out in the years since then, but nothing has happened…until now.
The Mission Group announced they bought the Bernard Avenue property this week and brought a bit of renewed hope to downtown dwellers. They say they’re not sure what they’re going to do with the property that includes six legal titles, but it’s clear they have the space for a little creativity.
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The property covers an entire city block in downtown Kelowna, and features 333 feet of frontage on Bernard Avenue.
Mission Group vice-president of development Luke Turri has said the property is really a great, blank canvas that will shape the downtown of the future.
What that means remains to be seen, so we asked the people who it will affect most directly—the people who spend their time on Bernard Avenue.
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Here’s what they had to say:
“I think it should be a high-rise condo building that blocks the sun out with retail on the ground floor. Higher condo buildings mean more people downtown and that’s better for the local economy.” — Chris Shaften, Krafty Kitchen + Bar
“Maybe like a whole foods would be cool. Something to bring everyone downtown, with condos or something on top to give everyone more housing.” — Chantelle Koutsanis, Mad Mango
“A ‘70s funplex, with a roller rink, bowling alley, disco dance area and fun place for the kids. (Or) more added retail that supports independent, local businesses and housing.” — Lori Sellen, HITZ Boutique
“I’d like to see a multi family tower with commercial on the ground floor.” —Forrest Klotzbach
“Something that is part residential, part business …maybe some office spaces, smaller ones. It’s always good to keep customers close to where there will be business.” — Healther Zais
“Dinner and a live show place.” — Alonso Sandoval
“Maybe an arcade.” — Brandon Belanger
“A hotel .. why not? I used to work in the hotel business and we always need more hotels.” —Ken Hamilton
“Maybe something that’s not chain related. We have a lot of chains here. It would be cool to have … a local farmers market in there or something.” — Emma Lafontaine
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Also, in case the folks at the Mission Group need a little more inspiration our Facebook following came through as well. Here’s what they had to say:
Darlene Terada: A year round public market like Granville Market in Vancouver.
Doug Mehus: 16-20 store mixed use residential/commercial building, ideally with some purpose built rental apartments, namely market rate but a few affordable housing. This would allow the City to repurpose the former Kelowna RCMP detachment as a social housing development! 🙂
Suzan Miles: GAWD! No more condos! Like we need more traffic downtown. A year round market, or an Olive Garden/ Red Lobster. Been waiting decades for my fave restaurants to get here
James Boyle: It’s shame that we don’t get a choice in the matter. What will be happening is downtown will go through a growth spurt, much like Vancouver and we will see these massive buildings that don’t really belong. We’ve already got our own east Hastings (Leon) and Stanley Park (City Park). All I can hope is that they will keep some green space and not make a townhouse development on every block!
Dave Gibson: Tear it all down and build something new for a change. Kelowna is stuck in a very boring period of time and needs to advance with the rest of the world.
Joshua Crawley: My vote goes for an Ikea, the indoor market idea, or a room with paddled walls where you can wear a straight jacket and act like a crazy person by bouncing off the walls and screaming in response to the high priced houses I will never be able to afford, especially with the lack of decent, high paying jobs out there. But yeah, an Ikea would be cool.
Heather Tite: Before you know it. City Council will approve a monorail to be built throughout all of Kelowna to get around faster and have less traffic, but no, they are not smart enough to ever think of that are they!!!
Jean-Anne Hawse: Condos, to keep persons shopping downtown. As you can’t park down there hardly, more walkers could benefit the businesses.
Harry Manak: 3D Imax state if the art multi use entertainment use facility high end convention center with theatres and cinemas
Stewart Drefko: “A parkade” with the dwindling parking space in Kelowna I think it would be a good idea looking in to the future
R Nathaniel Daggett: Year round indoor public market and garage sale booths
Heather Fehr: Almost anything would be better than the current eyesore
Craig Musgrove: Heliport… Or NASA launch pad… Or a zoo… Or a driving range.
Marty McLeod: A massive tower with no parking like they have been
Barb Leyes: Some kind of housing ..apartment / hotel / condo
Beth Shey: Highrise with bachelor and small 1 bdrm rentals….NOT HIGH END! with parking on the bottom!
Max Rae: Homeless shelter and drug treatment centre
Lucy Harper: A place for homeless to go too…sleep eat …got kitchen in there already
Doris Giesbrecht: Anything that will clean up that corner
Cally Callaghan: Roller rink!
Craig Erika Colburn: 50 storey tower
Nathalie Nessie Rancourt: Rollerskating rink!