The development is located at 350 Doyle Avenue in downtown Kelowna (photo courtesy of HM Commercial Group)

New creative hub space proposed for downtown Kelowna

Council passed a motion Monday to investigate the feasability of project along Doyle Avenue

There could soon be more space in downtown Kelowna for artists to develop their next masterpiece.

Kelowna councillors passed a motion on Monday afternoon to allow the city to apply for a $35,000 Canada Cultural Spaces Fund to investigate the feasibility of developing a 6,000-foot creative hub space on the site of the old RCMP police station. The space could accommodate up to four artists.

BC Artscape — a not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver — will now look at how to acquire project funding, the potential design of the new space, and the capital budget needed to cover the project before a final report on the feasibility of the development is presented to city council later next year.

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The creative hub is part of a larger proposal put forward by city staff to redevelop two parcels of land at the former RCMP Police station at 350 Doyle Avenue.

According to a report given to council, the city is offering prospective developers an opportunity to build a 13-storey condo tower and a community threatre on the vacant site in return for an 80-year lease pre-paid lease.

At the heart of the proposal is a desire by city staff to adhere to the vision proposed in the city’s Civic Precinct Plan, which outlines a long-term redevelopment plan for the downtown core that stretches from Clement Avenue to Queensway and from Water Street to Ellis Street.

Approved in 2016, the plan identifies key sites for mixed-use development, such as the former RCMP site and the Interior Health site while protecting other sites for civic uses such as the Kelowna Community Theatre and the city hall parking lot.

The city said it expects to generate $6.5 million in the deal with $2.3 million of that being used to extend the nearby Art Walk and $1.8 million put towards the creative hub.

“The redevelopment of the RCMP site through the disposition process will advance a range of the plan’s objectives for urban design, increased vibrancy, public space improvements (Artwalk & Civic Plaza) as well as new community/cultural space in the Cultural District. At the same time, the plan also anticipates a growing cultural sector by designating a number of civic sites to enhance the presence of the Cultural District,” states the report.

“Overall, the plan provides a comprehensive vision to support the on-going growth of this area as a vibrant mixed-use district.”

The report also outlines long-term plans for a new community theatre and arts centre to replace the current Kelowna Community Theatre and a new Civic Plaza to be located north of the Doyle development.

City of Kelowna partnerships manager Sandra Kochan said the 6,000-sqaure-foot creative hub could be used for a whole variety of things.

“From the city’s perspective, the space should be flexible, re-configurable and be usable for community access as well,” Kochan said.

“The facility could include production space, rehearsal space, bookable rooms, office and administrative and storage space.”

Despite the flexibility of the proposed project, Kochan said there would be some contingencies attached to it.

“The city and developer would work together to create a sustainable, affordable model for building out the space to meet their specifications. They’ll need to identify sources of revenue, manage construction costs, and day-to-day operations.”

“Funding could come from multiple sources, including from the private sector and from grants available to the project.”


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