Scaled-down Kelowna development proposal still too big, says neighbourhood association

“This changes the whole feel of the neighbourhood,” concerns being raised about development proposal slated for the South Pandosy area in Kelowna

It was already downsized once, but some Kelowna residents feel the proposed development plans for a 4.4-acre parcel of land next to Gyro Beach are still too big.

“We have been assured by counsel and by planners that the Pandosy area will not become another downtown with towers,” said Paul Clark, president of the KLO Neighbourhood Association.

“But I wonder if this is actually the beginning of that, if this is being considered.”

The proposed development is slated for the site that currently houses the Willow Creek Campground and RV Park on Lakeshore Road near Lanfranco Road.

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The proposal calls for two mixed-use buildings, one 10 storeys high, the other 14.

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It would include 322 housing units, most of them condo suites and some townhomes.

The ground levels would include retail and commercial space.

The plans are being proposed by the Stober Group, a Kelowna-based development company that built the Landmark District.

“They’ve held the site since 1987 and have always had a vision to create liveable, quality walkable living for Kelowna residents down here in this area,” said Mary Lapointe, community relations liaison for the Stober Group.

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Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the developer is currently holding a virtual open house to engage the public and get input on the plans.

It has created a 12-minute long video for the public to view, outlining its vision for the site.

The current proposal is a scaled-down version of what the Stober Group presented to the public last summer.

“The first design was considered to be too big, a bit too massive for this neighbourhood and so we’ve listened and this is the response,” Lapointe told Global News.

“It’s the parkade that is way over powering the building ,” : area residents concerned with proposed Kelowna hotel
“It’s the parkade that is way over powering the building ,” : area residents concerned with proposed Kelowna hotel

The original proposal called for three buildings, ranging from 11 to 15 storeys, and 450 housing units.

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But the revised plans still have many neighbours concerned.

Many believe the project is still too big for the Pandosy Village area, which is known for its form and character.

“This changes the whole feel of the neighbourhood,” Clark said.

“The neighbours have moved into the neighbourhood, which is a village . . . they are there because they like how it feels right now.”

Clark said Pandosy Village is valued for its current character not only by those who live in the area, but many people right across the city.

“There’s a lot of people who are currently living in Kelowna that value the area for the way it is right now. I would like to see some of that stay very similar,” Clark said.

“We just want responsible development.”

New UBCO campus to be built in downtown Kelowna
New UBCO campus to be built in downtown Kelowna

Current zoning in the area only allows for buildings between four to six storeys high, which means city council would have to approve rezoning for the height variance.

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“This is a very large aberration from what the OCP (Official Community Plan) has,” Clark said. The original OCP envisions Sopa Square as being the only tall, 14-storey tower.”

Clark also expressed concern about increased traffic along a corridor he said is already fairly congested.

“Traffic will for sure get worse,” he said “It would be nice to see if the city would do a traffic study on this.”

Downtown Kelowna is growing skyward as more high-rises are being built in the heart of the city.
Downtown Kelowna is growing skyward as more high-rises are being built in the heart of the city.

The developer said it is listening to public, having already gone back to the drawing board once and scaling down the plans following last summer’s open house.

Stober Group added it’s continuing to listen to residents leaving feedback online after viewing the proposed development video.

“We’re asking people, what do you think so far. We are receiving a lot of input from people, very positive but also suggestions for improvement,” Lapointe said. “There’s a lot of engagement.”

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The developer hopes to officially present its proposal to city council sometime this fall.

Click here to take part in the virtual open house and view the video.