A 13-storey condo tower, a new community theatre and 6,000 square feet of community space could soon replace the vacant lot of the former RCMP police station in downtown Kelowna.
A city report headed to council on Monday, outlines a detailed proposal that could transform two parcels of land at 350 Doyle Avenue.
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 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.”
According to the report, the city is offering prospective developers an opportunity to build a 13-storey condo tower in return for an 80-year lease before the property reverts back to the city.
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 a 6,000 square foot community space.
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.
The future of old RCMP site was recently at the centre of a public debate about how to redevelop the vacant lot of land located in downtown Kelowna.
In October, a group of local business leaders called the Legacy Group sent a letter to the City of Kelowna requesting it delay the sale of the old RCMP site until is consider other proposals, including one of its own.
The Legacy Group wants to build a state-of-the-art, multi-use development project on four parcels of land, including the RCMP site, the Kelowna theatre, the Memorial Arena and city hall parking lot.
The group’s plan envisions creating a new-and-improved Kelowna theatre, a cultural centre and retail outlets.
The plan has yet to secure financial backing, however it would likely require a public-private-partnership, similar to how Prospera Place and the Okanagan Innovation Centre were built.
A major component of the plan includes redeveloping land regulated by the Simpson Covenant, also known at the city as the Sawmill Agreement.
Under that agreement, the Memorial Arena and city hall parking lot can only be redeveloped for public use. The Simpson family gave the land to the city 75 years ago under the agreement that the land would never be used commercially.
The city has acknowledged the Legacy Group’s proposal, but has avoided fully endorsing it.
Instead, the city said any redevelopment in the area must be guided by the city’s Civic Precinct Plan.