Capri Mall makeover

Nothing stays the same forever.

Long time Kelowna residents will remember when the Capri Mall was the hub of commercial activity in the city.

Now, mall owners are proposing a complete facelift of the 54-year-old, underused mall.

The facelift, proposed by property owners RG Properties, would include several residential towers.

City Urban Planning Manager, Ryan Smith, says the idea has been in the discussion stages for nearly 10 years.

He says an official development application for rezoning and an Official Community Plan amendment for the site was filed with the city a little more than a year ago.

"We are working with the owner of the mall site on a potential mixed use, redevelopment plan," says Smith.

"It's a long term plan for the mall site. We are looking at changing the mall you see today into a more pedestrian environment with a mix of housing types while retaining the existing commercial development that's there today."

He says the plan presented to the city would include as many as eight to 10 buildings of varying heights.

"Right now, we do know the zoning says between, I think, four and 10 storeys on the site. That will develop as we move more into the comprehensive planning process and we get some neighbourhood feedback and the property owner and their design team considers that."

Smith says the developers are in the process of beginning the public consultation process.

With the next week or so, a mail-out will be going out to neighbours for a public meeting in mid-November.

The application as it currently sits calls for parking below grade allowing for current parking lot space to be utilized as part of the development itself.

Smith stresses the proposal before the city does not call for the elimination of the commercial component of the mall.

"The mall will stay in some form," says Smith.

"They are not going to replace the mall or eliminate the commercial functions on the site - just replace them in phases with more modern buildings. The hotel of course will stay as is on the site."

As part of the application, Smith says one of the primary amenities is a central park which has an ice rink type feature.

"The property owner does manage several ice rinks in the province (including Prospera Place).

Our downtown ice rink is a very popular with residents of Kelowna and I think the developer sees that as a positive for the neighbourhood."

The application likely will go through several tweaks and changes before it finds its way to City Council - possibly a year or more from now.

While council has yet to speak on the application, Smith says he believes the location is ideal for a development such as this.

He says he's excited about the potential for redevelopment on the Capri site.

"When you are considering a redevelopment, I think the city sees this site as a key development site along the Highway 97 corridor," says Smith.

"It is in an urban centre that our Official Community Plan recognizes as a future mixed use development site. I think the devil will be in the details - working through the details of the building height and the density and how the servicing works for the development itself."

Smith says if and when the development moves through the system to final approval, it would likely be done in phases over a 15 to 25 year period.

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