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City of Kelowna purchases building next to Gospel Mission

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Kelowna's skyline is changing as more people continue to leave city life for the beautiful Okanagan. Now, Kelowna's Leon Avenue is getting a makeover. Sydney Morton dives into Leon Avenue's rich history – Apr 5, 2022

An expensive, small lot on one of Kelowna’s most notorious streets has been purchased by the city for a hefty sum.

The City of Kelowna spent $2.95 million to buy 265 Leon Ave., city staff confirmed on Tuesday. That was just slightly over the asking price.

According to B.C. Assessments, the empty building is currently used by residents of the Gospel Mission. Now just a shell of itself, the building was constructed in 1951, is 5,940 square feet in size and had an assessed value of $1.1 million.

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“I’ve confirmed that the disposition price was $2.9 million; the $30,000 additional cost was for legal and closing costs,” said Tom Wilson, communications supervisor with the city.

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“This is a strategic land acquisition with no plans for the property at this stage.”

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While the city doesn’t have plans for the building at this point, the Gospel Mission still intends to use the space.

“We were surprised to hear the courtyard had been purchased by the city, as that sale had not been on our radar,” said Carmen Rempel, the Mission’s executive director.

Read more: Kelowna’s most notorious strip offers layers of rich history

“However, it is business as usual here at the Mission and we don’t expect any operational impacts.

“Our residents love the (building’s) courtyard and are currently busy planting a row of sunflowers and a few tomato plants to add to the healing environment that space provides our community.”

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Read more: A slice of history — new exhibit explores the diversity of bread in Calgary

Before becoming a strip of clubs, Leon Avenue played a role in the development of the city. Chinese men started moving to the region around 1890 and the strip became Chinatown.

Unlike counterparts in other cities, where ornate pagodas now beckon, Kelowna’s Chinatown was never built up.

Rather, Kelowna’s Chinatown stayed as a reflection of the community in which it was situated, with modest brick buildings until they were knocked down in the 1970s.

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