Homes will start going up on the Skaha Hills development in 2014, according to the developers who are building the long-awaited project.
Greyback Construction, who partnered with the Penticton Indian Band in October 2013 to build the residential development, had hoped to begin work on a show home in the fall of 2013, but say that will take place now in early 2014.
However, the first phase will not include a resort, a casino or other rumoured developments. The plan right now, said Greyback president Larry Kenyon, is to develop a residential community, starting with about 50 homes in the first phase.
“It is kind of a multi-year, multi phase, mixed use development. More of a residential community, but there is potential for different uses allowed on the land, so as we get the first phase unrolled, we will get more interest from other businesses, so we can do some different stuff up there,” said Matt Kenyon, Greyback’s general manager.
Skaha Hills, is a 550-acre, $250-million development to be built on PIB lands on the bench west of the Penticton airport.
The proposal traces its roots back to 1997, when the band voted in support of a casino resort.
A casino, however is not in the current plans, according to the Kenyons.
“You will hear rumours every day, but we haven’t been involved in that,” said Larry.
The project will be built in seven phases, and 550-units have been approved by the PIB. A full build, though, would be over the course of many years, and goals may change.
“There is a lot of spare land there. It is not going to be plugged in, so things might change, but that is all that council has got approval from the band for at this point,” said Larry.
“There is some potential for some commercial areas up there.
“Nothing has been finalized, because no one knows what the economy is going to do in the long run.
“But there are areas set aside for commercial, for a resort type hotel and golf course.”
As the first phase begins selling, the Kenyons said, there will be adjustments to the future plans and phases, as they receive more input from both the public and the PIB.
“We are guessing what people might want in the future. But it is big enough and enough phases we will be able to adapt to different sort of markets as we see things change,” said Larry.
The area is ideal for a residential development in many ways, according to the Kenyons, as the terrain is easy to build on and features some of the most spectacular views in the valley.
“Just look out over the hillside and you will see it’s gorgeous, a really gorgeous piece of property,” said Larry.
“I think it will appeal to a lot of people. We just don’t see that you can duplicate that piece of land in the Okanagan, from our point of view.”
Initially, Skaha Hills is offering five different floor plans.
“We will have one rancher-type floor plan, too, which will be probably our best price point. In phase two, there will be more options for ranchers. In phase one, we are more on the slope side, in phase two, we get a little bit of both,” said Matt.
“They are going to be nice quality homes with a great view. It will be a different product offering than any other subdivision in the area.”
The PIB is tied into the project in a second way, with band-owned Westhills Aggregate, being involved.
“They are doing a lot of the dirt moving and the supplies,” said Larry. “They are great partners as well. It’s a bonus because the two of us (Greyback and Westhills) have worked well together over the years.”
This is the first time Greyback has partnered directly with the band, though they have built several projects with them in the past. Currently, Greyback is building both a new fish hatchery and health centre for the PIB.
“We’ve built projects for them and with them and dealt with them quite a bit. We really like the new council and chief and everyone there, good to deal with and everybody is trying to go in the right direction,” said Larry.