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Kelowna  

Delay in downtown hotel

Start of construction for a new downtown Kelowna hotel is being delayed six to eight months.

The decision was announced Tuesday by Westcorp, the company building the proposed 26-storey hotel on the former Willow Inn site.

The delay comes after Westcorp said some elements of the design have not yet been finalized and won't be ready in time for a March construction start.

"With the delay in the finalization of our construction drawings, the lead-in time associated with the demolition of the Water Street buildings, and typical risks associated with going into the ground, we have decided that the window for construction of our foundation during low water table levels has now become too tight to begin construction in March," said stakeholder management VP Gail Temple.

"As a result, we will wait until after the summer when the water table recedes to begin construction."

With a two-year build, Temple said it is now expected the hotel will open in late 2018 or early 2019.

"Despite the delay, Temple said site preparation will begin in the coming months.

That includes seeking a demolition permit to remove the existing Water Street buildings.

"We expect to have them removed prior to May and, after demolition is complete, the east side of the site will be leveled so that it can be used for temporary pay parking throughout the busy summer months."

Metro Church will be vacating the building March 1. They will transition into a temporary location for about 18 months with a clear plan to move into a long-term, permanent location sometime in 2017.

Temple said Westcorp is assisting with that transition.

"While the delay of our construction start date is unfortunate, it is our hope that it may allow us to better coordinate our construction with the city’s reconstruction of Kerry Park.

"We remain excited and committed to this fantastic project for our downtown and waterfront and look forward to getting underway."

The city gave final approval to the downtown hotel project in June of 2014.

As part of the development, Westcorp will pay the city more than $1.9 million for a portion of Mill Street to accommodate construction.

Mayor Colin Basran recently said he believes the development of the hotel will be the tipping point for our downtown. He believes it can become the heart of the community.

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