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Downtown hotel off to council

City staff like it. A majority of people at a public open house liked it. Monday, developers of a proposed 24 storey downtown hotel and conference centre hope City Council will like it as well.

Westcorp Properties of Edmonton are proposing the project which would be built on the former Willow Inn site.

The total project includes a 214 unit hotel, conference centre, street-level retail and restaurant.

Westcorp will be before council Monday asking for Official Community Plan and zoning changes.

Many of those changes center around the use of  portions of Mill Street and Queensway Avenue in order to accommodate parking which cannot be provided underground due to the high water table.

According to staff Westcorp has proposed to compensate the city for the land at market value.

In a lengthy report for council, city staff are recommending the requested changes be approved even though the 24 storey hotel is five storeys higher than both the OCP and Downtown Plan envisioned.

Further, staff's report suggests shadowing from the development would have an effect on the adjacent Kerry Park.

"The impact of the shadowing is worsened by the additional five storeys of height requested by the applicant," the report states.

"Staff is working with the applicant team to provide mitigation for those impacts through improvements to Kerry Park in accordance with the city's Kerry Park Concept Plan. Negotiations continue with staff with the aim of coming to agreement prior to council consideration of the Development Variance Permit."

Westcorp states it requires the additional five storeys in order to "reach the number of hotel rooms required to make the hotel efficient and economically viable as a project."

According to the report feedback from an open house in March was mainly positive.

Of 129 surveys returned the night of the open house only 13 were negative.

'Responses noting support for the project were principally focused on the form and character of the proposed development and on the increased level of activity that the project would bring.The responses submitted not in support noted concerns about height, proximity to lake and whether the development is accessible for all socio-economic groups in Kelowna.'

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