Developable land is one thing the Penticton area is short on, but there is good news on the horizon as a long-awaited residential development shows signs of getting underway.
This week, the Penticton Indian Band Development Corporation and Greyback Developments Ltd. announced details of their partnership to build Skaha Hills, a 223 hectares, $250-million development to be built on PIB lands on the bench west of the Penticton airport.
“Without question this is an outstanding development site,” said Larry Kenyon, president of Greyback. “The lack of good developable land has stagnated Penticton’s growth in the past and we believe there is a pent-up demand for a nice, master-planned community offering some resort style amenities.”
Groundbreaking on the site is expected in November with sales beginning in March 2014. Skaha Hills, formerly known as Arrowleaf, has been long in the planning. It traces its roots back to 1997, when the band voted in support of a casino resort there. The PIB lost their bid for a casino, so that never came about. But in 2009, when the PIB began revitalizing their economic development plans, the idea resurfaced.
“Our community said, just because we lost the casino doesn’t mean we can’t do the resort development,” said PIB Chief Jonathan Kruger in a 2012 interview.
He has described the project as “a model project in one of the top-10 tourist destinations in the world.”
The PIB land was recently released for development to their partner, Greyback, and fully secured by a Crownlease with the federal government.
The development site is the first of its kind to be designated for a 150-year term.
According to Kruger, the new development will be a strong economic driver for the entire region, with spin-off benefits from improved infrastructure, economic benefits to retail, commercial and industrial sectors as well as huge employment opportunities. He estimated it could have an impact in the range of 1,500 jobs.
Skaha Hills will be built in seven phases, to a full complement of 600 homes with protected lands surrounding the community to preserve the views from the bench.
Proposed amenities include golf, beachfront access, hiking trails, pools, clubhouse and sports courts. The entrance will feature a rock waterfall accented with indigenous “peach rock” found in a hidden quarry. Plans show sloped hills planted with vineyards leading up to the controlled-access community.
“The elevated site on the south end of Penticton is one of the finest parcels of land for development in Penticton because of its views, natural setting and proximity to amenities and Highway 97, the main artery through the Okanagan,” said Curt Jansen, Skaha Hills director of real estate. “Skaha Hills offers unparalleled views and broad vistas of the Penticton area, spanning from Okanagan Lake, over Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls.”
The first phase features six floor plans of rancher-style homes designed with main floor living and open floor plans, starting around $400,000.
“Home owners in Skaha Hills will be part of an evolving community in an incredible setting,” said Jansen. “The natural surroundings set the stage for an enviable lifestyle, combined with everything the South Okanagan has to offer: wine, golf, water and a wide variety of homes that offer some amazing views of the lake and valley.”