In advance of Westcorp's meeting with city council next month regarding their ambitious and massive hotel project on the waterfront across from Kerry Park, the company made an impromptu visit to the Rotary Centre this week showcasing their plans to the public. What follows is a not a investigative piece, but rather a summation to inform Kelowna residents of the Westcorp plans for the area.
Back in late summer of last year, Westcorp submitted their final development proposal application to the City of Kelowna for the new design of their hotel on the Willow Inn site. If you recall, the project actually was originally approved by the city back in March 2014, except then it was to be a 24 storey hotel with a project cost estimated at $65 million. Had various delays not taken place following the approval – the company cited concerns with the risk of high water table levels in 2016 – the building would have actually been open for business today.
This time around, Westcorp wants to build a 32 storey mixed use project, with a new design now budgeted at $130 million. There are numerous other proposed changes to the development that go beyond the height increase. The previous project had 189 hotel rooms and 25 long-stay rental suites for a total of 214 units. The current project has 174 hotel rooms and 49 for-sale residential units for a total of 223 units.
The previous project provided 242 parking stalls in a large above grade parking structure with hotel and retail uses wrapped around it. In their current proposal, they have reduced the size of the grade parking structure by creating two full levels of parking underground.
The current project will have two separate parking areas: a hotel and public parking area with 156 stalls below grade accessed off of Queensway Ave; and a residential secured parking area with 133 stalls above grade accessed off of the laneway.
With this significant shrinking of the above ground parkade, they have moved the tower eastward away from Kerry Park. The structure now slopes back from the lake with a series of stepped terraces.
Westcorp envisions a coffee shop, restaurant, lobby bar and hotel lobby at ground level, and with the building's realignment, it will be pulled back further from Kerry Park allowing for larger patios for the ground level businesses.
The tower in the previous iteration was elliptical in shape, and the cladding was a white composite material with the balconies affixed to the structure. In the current design the tower is still generally elliptical, however, with larger balconies now part of the floor slabs, the building edge will feature more of an undulating curvature.
The building will also feature a "sky" restaurant at mid-level, dissecting the floors dedicated to the hotel and residential portions of the tower.
- Three hotel elevators servicing the hotel rooms, conference areas and 16th floor restaurant, two conference-only elevators, and three residential elevators
- The 2nd floor terrace and pool area is for hotel patrons and residential hotel owners, and the 5th level terraces (conference level) are now solely for conference event use
- A public restaurant, private dining rooms and a culinary teaching kitchen facility have been introduced on the 16th level of the tower
- Retail has been added within the lobby as well as on Water St.
What Westcorp Says
“With the decision to put most of the parking underground, the design team has been able to pull the hotel tower closer to Water St. The terraces that slope away from the lake have created a soft edge along Kerry Park, and the expansive terraces raise the level of experience that we will be able to deliver to hotel guests and event attendees. We are also excited about the unique dining experience and views that will be discovered on the 16th floor. We expect this new sky-restaurant to become a must-see destination in Kelowna!” – Gail Temple, VP Operations, Westcorp
Temple continues the boosterism, claiming that "it is the last developable piece of the waterfront and a luxury hotel not present yet in Kelowna would be a fabulous addition,” said Temple. “It will have conference space that will rival the best in Canada and we are really hopeful that we have raised the bar so high in terms of architecture and finesse that it is a catalyst for other great things to happen on Lawrence and Leon."
“Following models such as the Fairmont Pacific Rim, Hotel Georgia, Shangri La and Le Germain, we decided to include a limited number of residences in the upper levels of the hotel tower. This is a one-of-a-kind site in a very special place in the world. A site like this demanded a strong responsibility to get it just right, and we are happy with the results of our patience. The hotel, and the stunning homes that will accompany it, will bring a presence and grace to the waterfront that will compete on the world stage.” – Phil Milroy, CEO Westcorp
If the new proposal is approved by council in late February, Westcorp plans to have a presentation centre up by summer in time for tourist season, and shovels in the ground by late 2018. Developers expect the project to wrap up 30 months after building begins, making late 2020 a potential opening date.