A project first launched almost two decades ago could start this year.
The idea for a luxury hotel and convention center on the former Willow Inn site in downtown Kelowna was first proposed in 2004 and was formally presented to city council in 2014.
But after sitting empty for all these years, heavy machinery is finally working on the site, next to Kerry Park, to carry out ground tests.
“They’re looking for the compressibility of the material, the water, the components that are below ground level that they can’t see until they get into that material,” said Dean Strachan, head of community planning and development for the City of Kelowna. .
“It’s part of finalizing the design drawings, so they have to do these tests to determine how the foundation is going to be built.”
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The project is being undertaken by Westcorp Inc.
It features a 33-story waterfront hotel with 184 hotel rooms, 65 residential units and a conference center.
Additionally, the project includes retail space on the ground floor along Water Street and a restaurant and cafe on the park side.
It will also include an 18th-floor restaurant overlooking Lake Okanagan.
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“Something that will be a landmark for Kelowna,” said Gail Temple, vice president of operations for Westcorp Inc., when asked to describe the vision for the project.
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Current ground testing, which Temple says will take about two weeks, will allow the project to finally move forward.
Temple said if all goes according to plan, the company hopes to begin construction this year, but must renew its development permit first.
“He expired on February 4 and we are going through the process to get him back on track,” Temple said.
“It’s just a kind of cleaning… It’s the exact same project. Nothing has changed.”
Temple told Global News that one of the main obstacles to starting the project was the pandemic.
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She said the business was preparing to open its retail gallery in March 2020 when that unexpectedly came to a halt.
“If we were just a residential project, that would never have been an issue, of course, because the residential has done incredibly well,” Temple said.
“It was the room in the hotel that really, really held us back from restarting, but we are confident now that we have just taken all the steps we need to take to move forward and bring this project to life. “
The price of the mega-project is not disclosed, nor the brand or the name of the hotel, at least not at this stage.
If all goes according to plan, the new hotel and convention center would take four years to complete with an opening date of 2026.
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