Neither Kelowna city council nor its planning staff liked a proposal to build two hotels at the corner of Highways 33 and 97 when it came before them last summer.
That plan called for all the buildings to be set back on the lot and all the parking to be out front at the corner of the two busy highways.
But a revamped plan, which moves the buildings closer to the street and even calls for a 16-story residential tower to be added to the site in the future, had no problem finding support from council Monday.
Council approved a development permit for the first phase of the three-phase project, a plan to build a six-storey Marriott Courtyard hotel on the site.
The second phase, expected to follow the first about a year later, will see a second six-storey hotel added. Currently, the residential owner, a possible phase three, has yet to have plans drawn up for it, say city planners.
Last summer, the two-hotel proposal was rejected by council because nearly all the parking was proposed for the front of the buildings, right up to and along the very busy, and highly visible corner, considered by some on council as a northern gateway into the city.
So the proponent, with the help of city staff, went back to the drawing board and on Monday council was presented with a new plan that city staff say is more in keeping with development permit guidelines for properties along Highway 97 in the city’s Official Community Plan.
“There is a stronger street presence and the the overall layout is better,” said Coun. Tracy Gray in supporting the development permit.
She wasn’t alone in praising the reworked plan.
Mayor Colin Basran said it was hard to say no to the proposal last June given the investment the developer was making in the community. But he praised the redesign, noting it will now see higher density on the site, something he likes.
But while it won support from a majority on council, not all councillors were as high on the new look.
Coun. Brad Seiben said he did not feel the rearrangement of the buildings on the site was an improvement. He liked the previous configuration, with the two hotels set farther back and the parking lots running up to, and along, both the Highway 33 and 97 frontages of the property.
“I appreciate the application coming back but I thought the original was a much better layout,” he said.
The first hotel will have 120 rooms and will form the shorter part of a larger L-shaped building once the second phase is complete. The longer part of the L, running along Highway 33, will be the second hotel.
The future residential tower, a possible phase three of the project, would be built alongside the Highway 97 frontage.
There would also be landscaping features at set entrance points to the site at the corner, which Coun. Luke Stack called an “iconic” corner in the city.
Coun. Maxine DeHart,who works for the nearby Ramada Hotel excused herself from the discussion and vote for a conflict and Coun. Charlie Hodge was absent.
The two new hotels are just a few of several new ones planned for the city over the next few years, including a 24-story “iconic” elliptical-shaped tower downtown at the foot of Queensway and a proposed new hotel at Enterprise Way and Spall Road.