UPDATED Downtown apartment building heads to public hearing

richter and cawston apartment

On Monday, City council discussed a proposal for a 6 ½ storey apartment building on the corner of Richter St. and Cawston Ave.

Some councillors had a problem with rezoning the property, which would require fewer parking spaces with more density.

Mayor Colin Basran disagreed.

He thought it was a good compromise.

“Part of the property could have up to 12 storeys and then part of it is four so it`s straddling two different particular areas. And then for me I’ve never, as you know, shied away from less parking on an urban site so, for me, I think it`s quite supportable,” said Basran.

Councillor Gail Given was hesitant to rezone the project and allow for a higher number of units with less parking.

“And the fact that we have to add a restrictive covenant to keep commercial out of it because we`re actually putting in a zone that is designed for mixed use commercial, is when it feels to me like we`re trying to fit a zone to a project, as opposed to ensuring that the projects meet our future intention for the area,” said Given.

She added that she’s not opposed to density but she wants to make sure the project is supported with appropriate parking before it's approved.

Councillor Brad Sieben was intrigued by the potential of live/work units on the ground floor.

“I think the parking concerns are valid, especially when you think of the corridor that runs right in front of it but I am keen for this to go to public hearing and to see the entire vision of it because I think the notion of live/work when we`re trying to reduce trips is the best way to do it,” said Sieben.

The public will have their say at the public hearing on February 25th.

The vote was 7-2, with Councillors Charlie Hodge and Luke Stack opposed.

If approved it would come back to council for further discussion.

City council is taking their first look at a proposal on Monday for a 6 ½ storey apartment building in downtown Kelowna.

The applicant is looking to change the land designation from MRM – Multiple Unit Residential Medium Density to MXR – Mixed Use Residential / Commercial and rezone the property from the RU2 – Medium Lot Housing zone to the C7 – Central Business Commercial zone.

City Planner Aaron Thibeault said this will accommodate the density, mix of uses and parking requirements.

“In the recent past, those apartment buildings were permitted to go up to 4, 4 ½ storeys but over the past five or five years, those buildings have now been allowed to go up to six stories and so we generally consider 6 storey apartment buildings in the mid-rise category and so that’s precisely what we want to see in this location,” said Thibeault.

The site at the corner of Richter St. and Cawston Ave. is too far from retail corridors to be suitable for commercial uses.

In order to ensure the C7 zoning will not be used for commercial uses at this site, a covenant will be required on Title limiting development to residential uses, with the potential for live/work units on the ground floor.

“It’s sort of an arrangement where it's basically a residential unit where you can operate a home based business out of it. It is a commercial use but it is relatively low intensive and so it’s normally permissible in residential zones,” said Thibeault.

He added that the development permit, which is not being formally considered by city council yet, proposes 73 units.

“The downtown urban centre is precisely where the City wants to see the most growth in terms of our residential units, as well as employment. We definitely want to push the density there so this project makes sense in that location.”

If approved, the project will be forward to public hearing on February 25th.