Height won out over bulk late Tuesday night when Kelowna city council resoundingly endorsed a variance to more than triple the allowable height for a development adjacent to Gyro Beach.
The unique terraced design will feature building heights of 10 and 14 storeys. The allowable maximum height was just four storeys, which necessitated Tuesday's decision by council.
Speaking in support of the project and the height variance, many on council applauded the aggressive public consultation process conducted by Stober Group over the past two years.
Councillors said what began as a clunky, boxy-looking development on the site of the former Willow Creek Campground, was transitioned into the current design through discussions with neighbourhood residents.
The city's planning department also recommended support for the additional height.
Planner Terry Barton noted several benefits including the quality commercial and townhouse podium wrapping the development, efficient use of density, extension of Lanfranco Road and the Abbott Street active transportation corridor as well as overflow parking for Gyro Beach.
"While this is a tall building, it is a very unique terraced building design that we don't often see in the Kelowna context," said Barton.
"They are not a cheap building in terms of the structural loads and how to be able to architecturally design these. This is a significant design challenge for the architect to be able to bring to Kelowna."
Seven members of the public spoke on the project, including four in full support.
Those speaking against the development cited issues around shadowing and the potential for noise disruption and structural damage to properties at Mission Bay due to the pounding of structural pilings.
The development team suggested they would be using a new method of driving in the numerous piles required to support the massive structures.
The method is being used by Mission Group on their Bertram Street project and is quieter, suggested Stober Group development manager Bob Dagenais.
"We are committed to continuing dialogue with the neighbours," he said. "We want to be the good neighbour."
He added there is no suggestion the work will cause damage to nearby properties.
While she supported the height variance, Coun. Mohini Singh said she's concerned South Pandosy is losing its "little village" feel.
"I think there are a number of benefits for the community...the area is highly desirable, and it's because of the new development that's occurring in the area that's making it more and more desirable, not in spite of," countered Coun. Gail Given.
Coun. Luke Stack said he wished the height came in closer to eight to 10 storeys, but said the trade off "is significant."
"Does this site make Pandosy better...when you build this out, is Pandosy going to be a better place than it is today?" asked Stack.
"The answer to that in my mind is quite clearly yes when you look at the things being offered here."
"When I first saw this most recent iteration, I was blown away," added Mayor Basran.
"I actually think this could potentially be one of the nicest developments in our city."
Coun. Charlie Hodge was also blown away, but was the lone dissenting voice.
"It comes down to height and the feel of South Pandosy," he said.
"Without question, this is probably one of the classiest looking projects I've seen come across the table during this term, but I just can't in good conscious go to 14 storeys.
"It's the wrong spot, but it's an absolutely fabulous building."