Within the next 20 years, Randy Shier believes Kelowna has the potential to become the greatest ‘small’ city in North America.
The Mission Group president believes many parts of the city are just at the beginning of their development.
From the rooftop of Brooklyn, a 25-storey, 178-unit residential tower along Bernard and St. Paul Street in downtown Kelowna, Shier spoke about the future of the city. The Mission Group tower, which began construction in 2019, is set to be completed by the end of 2021.
That day (March 26) Shier watched as Mission Group workers started to pour the roof of the building.
In the downtown core alone, the company hopes to create an urban village with the completion of two large residential towers and a commercial tower. This, they believe will bring more people to the area.
Beside Brooklyn will be Bertram tower, a 34-storey tower set to be completed by 2023. It will contain 257 units and is already roughly 75 per cent sold. Brooklyn and Bertram will be bordered by The Block, a 16-storey Class A office tower set to be completed by winter 2022.
There’s no lack of interest in Brooklyn, either. Even though the roof remains to be poured, the building is already 98 per cent sold.
By putting more people and businesses in Kelowna’s downtown core, Mission Group hopes to transform downtown.
“The urban village at this end will be an anchor to draw traffic, and be a magnet for bringing people back and forth up and down Bernard,” said Shier.
“We’re just at the beginning of a cusp of downtown transforming,” he said, pointing to a future UBC campus downtown, and potentially a new theatre for live arts.
“The more that move down here, the more investment that happens down here, it’ll build on itself. There will be more and more people wanting this lifestyle,” Shier said.
For the residents that work and live in Bernard Block, Shier says they will have everything they need within a few blocks. Within a ten-minute walk, Shier spoke of 95 restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as 12 gyms and six daycares.
Shier himself lives downtown in Mission Group’s first building; Ella. There, live young and old, many with pets. Each Mission Group building is pet friendly, with its own dog wash and dog park/run.
The Block, he said, will be the first building downtown that offers parking inside the building. This was done to combat the struggles of downtown parking. For those working there, the entire building will be accessed contact-free - from your car to your office. For those who cycle to work, there will be hundreds of contact-less parking stalls for bikes.
Financial firms, law firms, accounting firms and high-tech companies have already approached Mission Group about acquiring space in The Block.
Because Kelowna is surrounded the lake, mountains and agricultural land, Shier believes sustainable growth means growing up, not out. He foresees more densification throughout the city — Orchard Park, Town Centre, Rutland, and more.
Eventually, he said there will be enough people living in those areas that more advanced transit, beyond buses, will start to make sense.
“In my opinion, Kelowna will be the best small city — it’ll be the best small city in North America, maybe even the world. It’s just going to be an amazing place,” Shier said.
Asked if he foresees Kelowna becoming a small Vancouver in the future, he said Kelowna has its own unique character that he wouldn’t want to see change.
“I would hate for it to be like a mini Vancouver. I think what it’ll be — we’re re-imagining what urban development and urban downtown and high rises are like, and Kelowna will have its own flavour.
“People will look at this and they’re want to emulate us, and what we’re doing here.”
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