Construction is expected to start within a few months on a 21-storey high-rise in downtown Kelowna.
The Grace tower on Sunset Drive will have 155 suites, with prices likely to begin at about $230,000 for one-bedroom suites on lower floors. Two-bedroom units, many of which will have views of Okanagan Lake, will start at $325,000.
“I think it’s going to be mostly locals interesting in buying a suite in the tower,” said Warkentin, whose company is promoting the building on behalf of Jingon, the Richmond company that owns the development site.
“You’ve got 800-900 people who’ll soon be working at the new Interior Health building in downtown Kelowna, and another 300 or so at the Innovation Centre, and I think a lot of them are going to be very interested in walking to work,” Warkentin said.
Once construction begins, it should take about 22-24 months to complete the project, Warkentin said.
While Jingon is in Richmond, its ownership is in China. The company bought the Sunset Drive development site out of receivership for $3.8 million in 2012.
Original plans for the property, then owned by a Calgary firm, were for 92 luxury suites in a 21-storey tower marketed under the name Lucaya. However, after the underground parking and foundation were built, the project fell into receivership in 2008 when the recession started.
“Basically, the building will have smaller units at a lower price than was the plan with Lucaya,” Warkentin said. “I think this will be a great project to help with the ongoing revitalization of downtown Kelowna as an attractive place to work and live.”
No rezonings or other approvals from city council are necessary, because the relevant permissions were already issued for the Lucaya project.
Highrise projects are sometimes announced but then remain in abeyance or are withdrawn by the applicant later on.
For example, Vancouver-based Aquilini Group had plans in 2009 for a 26-storey tower on Bernard Avenue, and twin towers of 22 and 30 storeys, known as the Monaco, were to have been built at the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street.
Argus Properties had plans for a 26-storey hotel at the corner of Manhattan Drive and Sunset Drive, but that project foundered in 2014, in part as a result of a dispute with the city over parking.
Warkentin said he is confident market response to The Grace tower will be strong, and that Jingon will go ahead with the planned highrise.
“Kelowna is different than it was in 2008,” Warkentin said. “It’s a growing city, with a lot of young professionals, and the well-priced suites in this project should be very attractive to them.”