A concept rendering of the proposed three-tower development at the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street. (Contributed)

A concept rendering of the proposed three-tower development at the corner of Leon Avenue and Water Street. (Contributed)

42-Storey building receives hesitant approval from Kelowna council

‘I’m afraid that because we’re so fed up, we’re just accepting something that is not in our best interest’ - Coun. Charlie Hodge

Forty-two storeys. More than 130 metres tall.

Downtown Kelowna’s next tallest building has been approved, alongside two other sizeable towers on Leon Avenue.

Council gave the green light to the massive three-tower development — which is set to be a near-complete revitalization of the street — during a Tuesday night (Jan. 12) meeting. Councillors Charlie Hodge and Gail Given were the two votes in opposition of the application made by Vancouver-based developer Anthony Beyrouti, owner of ticket reseller VenueKings.com.

At the corner of Leon and Water Street, in the heart of downtown directly adjacent to City Park, the towers will stand at 24, 28 and 42 storeys tall. Dubbed Water Street by the Park, the development is set to include 650 condo units, office space, a 727-stall parking podium, 566 long-term bike parking spots, and a bridge connecting one of the towers to the two on the opposite side of the street.

READ MORE: Kelowna implements revised public hearing protocols

READ MORE: Kelowna council approves rezoning for contentious Costco relocation

While council approved the project, it did so with a marked hesitance. Coun. Hodge made an impassioned plea to his fellow councillors as he announced his non-support for the project.

“We’re all fed up with the state of Leon,” Hodge said, speaking to the long and ongoing social challenges in the area. “But three massive towers next to our park and so close to our waterfront is not the answer. It’s not right for Kelowna and I know that in my heart.”

City planner Terry Barton said there has been very little interest in the area from other developers, largely due to the “poor shape” the street is in. Hodge said the issues council has long dealt with on Leon should not lead councillors to approve the project out of desperation.

“I’m afraid that because we’re so fed up, we’re just accepting something that is not in our best interest,” he said.

Several letters of support for the project mentioned the state of Leon Avenue. Letters from the August Family Foundation, Global Okanagan, Prestige Hotels and Resorts, and Hotel Zed all mentioned prevalent issues, including drug use and the exodus of businesses from the street. Coun. Loyal Wooldridge said those letters “suggest gentrification like this is going to solve those social challenges.”

“It’s really important that we all step back and realize that the work that we’re doing on the social side and actually housing people is what is actually going to solve that. Not bringing wealthy people to Leon — that’s not going to solve the social challenges we have,” said Wooldridge.

Mayor Colin Basran said the pros of the project outweigh the cons, but only by a very slim margin. The mayor aired several concerns, and is doubtful work on the project will start this year, but his main priority is to finally see the revitalization of an area that “desperately needs it.”

“Given the sheer mass and density of this, that’s what happens when you have someone maybe not familiar with the local market who overpays for properties and then has to find a way to get the value out of it.

“This is a prime example of that.”

Over the course of the project’s consideration, it received little input from the public. Coun. Ryan Donn attributed this lack of participation to a changing outlook among residents regarding large, downtown developments.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

City of Kelowna

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Hal Brindley - Dreamstime)
Enderby farmers caught between coyotes and bylaw tickets

The Smith family is stuck in a Catch-22 between protecting their livestock and incurring noise complaints

Barley Station Brewpub’s owners Stu and Kathy Bradford and longtime head chef Wally Bonn celebrated 15 years in business on Saturday, Jan. 23. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)
Snapshot: Salmon Arm’s Barley Station Brewpub celebrates 15th year in business

The highwayside pub is lookign forward to the future.

The Salmon Arm Elks Lodge kept up their charitable giving despite COVID-19 restrictions by holding a successful 50/50 draw. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Elks support charitable giving with succesful 50/50 draw

The winner of the draw took home over $4,000.

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison is comfortable waiting his turn to be vaccinated for COVID-19, as per the B.C. government’s updated vaccination timeline released on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (File photo)
Province’s vaccine timeline a shot of hope for Salmon Arm mayor

Mayor Alan Harrison sees majority of residents taking precautions against COVID-19

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Black Mountain Elementary in Kelowna Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Google Image)
Another COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Kelowna school

Interior Health confirmed an exposure at Black Mountain Elementary School Saturday

Members of BCEHS Station 343 in Lake Country receive a donation of treats and wine from the community in December. (Contributed)
‘Unexpected and heartwarming’: Okanagan community supports paramedics

Cards, discounts, treats, more given to Lake Country paramedics in sign of support

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

The North Okanagan Naturalists' Club completed its annual swan and eagle counts Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (Claude Rioux - NONC photo)
North Okanagan bird count shows decrease in swan and eagle numbers

Trumpeter swans were down 61 per cent from last year’s count; eagles down 14 per cent

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis has served as the band’s chief since his first of six electoral wins in 1991. (File photo)
Okanagan Indian Band seeks nominations for upcoming election

A new OKIB chief and council will be elected March 30, 2021

Lake Country firefighters helped deliver a healthy newborn baby Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020. (Pixabay)
Lake Country firefighters help deliver baby boy

Firefighters from the Winfield hall assisted with the birth of a healthy newborn Thursday morning

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

Skaha Middle School
Arrest made in indecent acts near South Okanagan schools

A 32-year-old man was arrested and released on strict conditions, say police

Most Read