The Mission Group has submitted a development plan for two towers that will add new height to Kelowna’s main drag.
The development permit application is for a 13-storey Class A commercial office tower and 33-storey residential tower at the cluster of lots surrounding the old downtown Bargain Shop, which they named the Bernard Block. The buildings would be on the 500 block of Bernard Avenue between St. Paul and Bertram Street, adjacent to the 25-storey Brooklyn at Bernard Block tower that was approved by City council in August 2018.
If approved, the new residential tower with 217 homes will be among the tallest in the city. Currently the 27-storey Skye at Waterscapes holds the title, though it will soon be dwarfed by the 36 storey tower of One Water Street, which is under construction.
The office tower will contain approximately 80,000 square feet of office space, meeting pent up demand for downtown work spaces.
“We always envisioned it as a multiple tower property. This is a very large site and it is the first master plan infill project for the downtown plan. The buildings have been designed to complement each other and the entire project moves us toward diversifying the downtown core,” said Luke Turri, executive vice president of Mission Group.
“We are excited that a site that has been derelict for a long time has seen some significant change. We think it will drive traffic down the street with a new urban village— it will be a magnet.”
The two new buildings will also offer 15,000 square feet of storefront retail, adding to the 3,000 square feet already on its way from the Brooklyn, which is on St. Paul.
Along with plans for densify downtown, parking concerns are bound to arise. That is something Turri said Mission Group is addressing in their plan.
“Parking would be incorporated into the building podium, and with underground parking for retail,” he said. “There will be ample parking for retail, for the office, and the residential. We would be providing over and above what’s needed.”
Turri pointed out that adding density to the downtown may not immediately reduce car ownership rates, but it should change car usage.
Of the three towers, there’s a likelihood that the Brooklyn will have Airbnb options, but the yet-named residential tower may not. When explaining the new restrictions that will go to public hearing March 12, Mayor Colin Basran has said developments that have already been approved for short-term rentals will be grandfathered in.
Turri said that the Mission Group would like to see regulations around short term rental accommodation, but they think downtown needs a mix of different accommodation sites.
With the permitting process now underway, Mission Group will seek approvals from council later this year. Construction of the office tower is planned for early 2020, with completion and tenant possession projected for late 2021.
The latest tower applications continue the trend in Kelowna development.
City planner Ryan Smith said in a previous interview that while single-family homes used to dominate the Kelowna landscape, things have changed.
“I think the (housing) discussion is changing in the community,” said Smith
“There is a unique momentum in Kelowna’s growth right now,” he added. “It’s exciting to see.”
As of November, city has identified 10 different sites around the downtown alone where high rise buildings are either being built, planned or envisioned as a possibility in the future.
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