Downtown kelowna Hotel Development
The development of a 33-storey hotel and condominium complex in downtown Kelowna, originally proposed by Westcorp on the former Willow Inn Hotel site near the waterfront, is encountering further delays. These setbacks have been primarily attributed to various factors, including flooding, the introduction of the speculation tax, and the impact of COVID-19.
Westcorp sought a fourth development permit from the city council on September 20, 2022, which was granted. However, due to an impending adoption of a new zoning bylaw, this permit was only valid for one year, as opposed to the usual two-year validity. This means that a building permit needed to be issued within the year, or the development permit would expire. As of the current week, the building permit has not been granted.
Gail Temple, the Vice-President of Operations at Westcorp, confirmed that they are not currently ready to proceed with the project. The primary reasons cited are the ongoing high construction pricing and interest rates, making the hotel project financially unfeasible at this time. Any further progress with the project will require approval from Kelowna city council, as their development permit is set to expire.
The proposed hotel consists of 17 storeys designated for hotel space, with a restaurant planned for the 18th floor, and the remaining floors designated for for-sale condominiums. This project has faced multiple delays and revisions since its initial proposal in February 2014, initially as a 24-storey boutique hotel. Despite some site work in the summer of 2015, construction was delayed due to unresolved design elements.
Several design changes were made over the years, ultimately resulting in a 33-storey structure with 174 hotel rooms, 49 for-sale condos, and a 17th-floor restaurant. Council approval was obtained, despite objections from city staff. The introduction of the speculation tax by the province led to another redesign and a new development permit in August 2018.
Additional alterations were made in late 2019, with plans for a show suite and name unveiling scheduled for March 2020. However, these plans were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new development permit was approved in September of the previous year, but it is now nearing its expiration date.
See why downtown Kelowna is such a desirable location.