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Hotel passes public scrutiny

A proposed downtown hotel on the former Willow Inn site got a resounding thumbs up from the citizens of Kelowna during Tuesday night's public hearing.

City Council gave second and third readings to OCP and Zoning amendments following a public hearing Tuesday night.

Edmonton based Westcorp Developments is proposing the 26 storey boutique hotel at what is now Queensway Avenue and Mill Street across from Kerry Park.

As part of the process Westcorp will purchase portions of Mill Street and Queensway Avenue for the hotel.

Despite the height and unique shape, Councillor Luke Stack says public option ran heavily in favour of the project.

While he didn't have specific numbers, Stack says only three out of 30 or 40 letters provided as part of the council package on the project were negative.

Those who spoke from the gallery were also positive.

"Like very positive. Comments like please go ahead, this is great for our city, it's a wonderful part of the revitalization, the jewel in the crown. That kind of stuff," says Stack.

"We had three letters of opposition. The one that stuck out in my mind was they just didn't want a tall building in our city, while another thought it was too tall for the location."

The area is zoned for building heights of 19 storeys.

"They (Westcorp) did a very, very good job of engaging the public and communicating what their vision of the hotel was. It was a very professional presentation."

Stack says the hotel is the capper to the revitalization of the Bernard area of downtown.

"We've been looking for something to revitalize downtown as you know for many, many years and we've been making these major steps forward.

The completion of Bernard was an important step forward. Now to have this beautiful hotel...I think this is going to bring more confidence that we have turned the corner in downtown Kelowna and it's on the way to full revitalization."

Stack says Westcorp doesn't expect to be ready for construction for about a year.

Construction could take two to three years.

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