Round Up

Downtown’s Next Addresses

The food and drink scene keeps rolling north of downtown

When it comes to new developments – commercial, residential and creative – all eyes are on the north end these days. We take a quick look past the completion of those huge towers to the types of businesses and outfits that are beginning to comprise the light industrial mixed use (but likely more commercial and residential-focussed initiatives) of this broad-spectrum zoning north of Clement. While we have our reservations about this kind of land use, we are also excited about some developments on the horizon that can contribute to a more lively inner city.

Great grocery news

While most of the local media have written about the upcoming public hearing (in the new year) on the rezoning request by locals Newtown Services for the former Ok Builders Supplies on Ellis Street, Infotel did a little more digging and found out this tasty tidbit about the location. If everything goes as planned, it will become a 15,000 square foot grocery store by next summer, and the occupant will be none other than Don and Mai Pham, owners of the Oriental Supermarket on Highway 97 and their two Yamato restaurants, one of which we wrote glowingly about early last year for its great cart dim sum service.

Yamato’s proprietors Don and Mei Pham. They’ve been in business for over 10 years.

Although Don Pham told Infotel’s reporter that the supermarket will be more traditional “with produce, meats and other products seen in regular grocery stores”, this will still be a fantastic get for the now severely underserved area following Nesters’ closure earlier this year. You’ll no doubt also see the diverse assortment of foods found in their supermarket in Rutland, and in addition, this new market will be serving “hot food take-a-way” and “grab and go stuff”, says Pham. Hello dumplings.

Restos that reinvest in themselves the right way

Central Kitchen and Bar, the tiny establishment beloved for its burgers and uniquely housed in the sports bubble on Ellis Street, is looking to become a whole lot bigger if their proposal is approved by the city. With sights set on having a more prominent footprint on their street, their plans include enlarging their existing outdoor patio and garden area, with the new fascia of the renovation to include two glassed overhead doors providing winter shelter and summer exposure, and a “concertina folding-window system”. If approved, the once tiny Central will expand into a 16,500 square foot space.

Renderings of the new Central Kitchen and Bar.

You love to see businesses start small at what they’re awesome at and really find their strengths, reinvesting in themselves as they go, rather than start off with huge pretensions, overconcepting, or expanding too quickly. If you look at the success of BNA/Skinny Dukes, Crasian/Boxcar/Provisions Kitchen, Kettle River/Jackknife Brewing, Krafty/Orchard Room, and Raudz and their spinoffs, it really seems to be the recipe here. We wish these guys the best in their reinvestment.

From tasting room to tap house

Red Bird Brewing’s tasting room at Baillie and Richter wants to add some serious square footage in 2020. Adam Semeniuk opened Red Bird in August of 2017 to much fanfare, and this adorable nano-brewery will outgrow its wee charm if its liquor application to double its seating capacity is approved. If so, it will expand right around the corner from their existing space into a 10 hl 5,000 square foot brewhouse. “With the popularity of the craft beer industry along with Kelowna’s population growth and strong tourism we are now in a position where we need to expand our space,” Adam Semeniuk wrote in the proposal to the city. With this expansion, and several other new similar ventures in the works in this hood, it’s clear this cluster of brewery bars might become the new nightlife zone in the not too distant future.

Renderings of the expanded Red Bird Brewing.

Slay rosé if you must, but leave some room for the rest of us

Adjacent to PC Urban’s new development, Sandhill Wines on Richter proposed an addition to add a 1,400 square foot patio accommodating approximately 40 people which could add some infrastructure for its happy hour Fridays during spring, summer and fall. In addition, the proposed new outdoor area will feature an “Instagram wall” according to the application, and while we’re not sure what that means exactly, we do look forward to @bcwinememes’ take once that’s out there.

We’re gonna reserve judgement, but it does seem like a lot of Okanagan producers are catering more to tourist and lifestyle experiences than y’know, products. We are supposed to be famous for good wine, not rosé all day (you can buy cheap French patio plonk for that). Here’s hoping that north of Clement does not turn into bachelorette and bro tourists’ alley.

Finally, if approved, Faction Projects Inc plans to “sustainably repurpose” the old vacant warehouse building sitting on the northwest corner of 760 Vaughan Avenue, between Sandhill Wines and Rustic Reel Brewing. They write, “the exterior of the warehouse has an interesting form and character worth protecting as it captures the simplicity and practicality of an old warehouse building constructed in the 1950s.” Mostly though, they’re enamoured with the interior and it’s exposed interior wooden roof structure that they are looking at refurbishing. It does sounds pretty and we love us some Okanagan 50’s, but for sure it’s a predictable real estate move – midcentury modern is peaking right now with a long half-life ahead of it for all the risk averse trendsters out there.

The current state of 760 Vaughan Ave.

Once completed, the developer who’s credo is “taking a multiple bottom line approach to success that focuses on people, planet, and profit in a collaborative forum utilizing the energy of all stakeholders”, foresees the spaces inside going to business support services, a liquor establishment, offices, and/or retail stores. For those not paying attention to that social enterprise biz speak (because eww), multiple or double bottom line means your goal is to improve one, your financial bottom line, and two, to contribute to lowering the costs of environmental, or societal degradation. Basically, the environment wins, or poverty is alleviated, if you win too. We’re not sure what real estate companies’ expertise is in these sectors, but maybe they should pay more taxes and DCCs to those that do, and let the experts do their jobs. By pushing commercial/residential into light industrial land use areas, and potentially pricing out local creators who could be protected by strong and specific light industrial zoning, aren’t the first two Ps (people and planet) kind of a lot less central to their efforts than the last one: Profit?

We’ll be keeping an eye on what type of businesses will be occupying the “Packing District” and in place of BC Tree Fruits once they vacate the premises on Vaughan Avenue, and of course there is the very big question of what will become of the Tolko land when they fully pack up and leave, and the city-owned waterfront lands surrounding it too.

Stakes is high. Watch this space as things unfold.