The new-look, taller, Westcorp hotel planned for the downtown Kelowna waterfront.—contributed

The new-look, taller, Westcorp hotel planned for the downtown Kelowna waterfront.—contributed

Revamped downtown Kelowna hotel plan revealed

The hotel building, slated for the foot of Queensway, would be taller and include residences.

The plan to build a new hotel on the downtown Kelowna waterfront, at the foot of Queensway, has been revamped.

Edmonton-based company Westcorp has redesigned the building—which was slated to be 24-storeys high—and it is now planned to be 32 stories, and contain 49 residences in addition to 174 hotel rooms.

The building, to be located on the site of the former Willow Inn next to Kerry Park, will also include a conference centre, restaurant and coffee shop, retail space in the lobby and on the lake side of the building, a 16th floor public “sky-restaurant.”

Its original elliptical shape has been reduced and while Westcorp says it will still be “generally elliptical,” larger balconies will temper that.

The parking has also been changed, putting it underground instead of in an above-ground parking structure.

Gail Temple, vice-president of operations for Westcorp said the changes were prompted by restrictions created by the above-ground parking structure in the old plan. The new plan includes two levels of parking totally underground with a small parking area above ground for exclusive use by residents of the condominiums.

The condominiums were added to the plan, said Temple, because the market here has changed since the original hotel plan was drawn up. The inclusion of the residences also means an increase in the number of elevator shafts in the building. The old plan included three, the new plan calls for six.

Temple said the additional stories will allow for the type of building the company originally envisioned. But the extra height will require a variance from the city, which had already allowed the previous plan to exceed the allowable height for buildings so close to the lakeshore.

Another major change is the addition of more outdoor conference space on the lower floor terraces that wrap around three sides of the building. Temple said the larger terraces could allow for two large gatherings to take place outside at the same time. The interior conference space will remain the same in the new plan.

In late 2016, Westcorp halted its plans before construction started in order to make design changes. It had completed ground tests on the site at the time.

The company says the new design will improve functionality of the hotel. Westcorp chose GCA Architects from Barcelona, Spain to do the redesign.

“With the decision to put most of the parking underground, the design team has been able to pull the hotel tower closer to Water St. The terraces that slope away from the lake have created a soft edge along Kerry Park, and the expansive terraces raise the level of experience that we will be able to deliver to hotel guests and event attendees,” said Temple.

“We are also excited about the unique dining experience and views that will be discovered on the 16th floor. We expect this new sky-restaurant to become a must-see destination in Kelowna.”

Phil Milroy, Westcorp’s CEO said the move to include for-sale condominiums in the building follows similar moves by high-end hotels in Vancouver, such as the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Hotel Georgia, Shangri La and Le Germain.

“We decided to include a limited number of residences in the upper levels of the hotel tower. This is a one-of-a-kind site in a very special place in the world,” he said.

“A site like this demanded a strong responsibility to get it just right, and we are happy with the results of our patience. The hotel, and the stunning homes that will accompany it, will bring a presence and grace to the waterfront that will compete on the world stage.”

A new public hearing on the project will have to be deal with the new design and a number of requested variances. Construction of presentation centre—if the new plan is approved—will be set up and pre-sale of condos started at that time.

Construction of the hotels expected to take approximately 30 months.

If the latest changes are approved by the city, the company hopes to start construction within a year.