An amendment to the official community plan for the El Rancho Motel will be going to a public hearing as the first wave of plans to reshape the landscape of Penticton’s North Gateway get underway.
The owner of the property is looking to have the current designation for the land expanded from tourist commercial to urban residential, with plans to tear down the old motel and build multi-storey buildings with retail and high-end rental space.
The development is one part of redevelopment plans for the entire North Gateway for Penticton, which stretches roughly from the Trade and Convention Centre, along Westminster Avenue, to the River Channel and the Highway 97 bridge.
Council gave their approval on Aug. 17 to send the amendment to a public hearing set for Sept. 7.
According to the report to council, 464 residents of Penticton provided feedback on the proposal, with a quarter who responded living near or on the property. Out of those responses, the majority supported the change, with 33 per cent supporting with conditions, such as requiring a combination of rentals and affordable housing as well as a plan for housing current tenants.
A further zoning amendment, as well as any design permits for the redevelopment for the El Rancho property, would come if and after they receive the OCP approval and the North Gateway design charette over Sept. 13 to 17.
The design charette is set to bring together 45 stakeholders in the North Gateway along with a design team to put together coordinated plans for developing the entire area.
According to a recent analysis conducted by Colliers, presented to city council on Aug. 17, the city needs to add an average of 200 new residential units to the city every year to meet the community’s housing demands, and the North Gateway area currently offers just two per cent of all the housing in the city, or 385 residential units.
The El Rancho motel, although not zoned for long-term rentals, does currently house renters in its 76 unit motel, according to Blake Laven with the City of Penticton.
That report also found the North Gateway makes up almost a quarter of all the hotel rooms in Penticton, with 436 units or 23.7 per cent, and that the demand for hotel rooms is expected to rise from 348,000 in 2019 up to 472,000 by 2030.
In June 2020, the owner of the property sought to have the same OCP amendment, which was defeated by council at first reading because the project didn’t include a hotel to support the convention centre.
The original rejection was the intention of keeping a hotel in the area, which is now a consideration that has changed with the Vernon Avenue hotel being announced this year.
In December 2020, Penticton inked a $1.5 million deal to get a new hotel near the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre and South Okanagan Events Centre.
Ron Mundi of Mundi Hotel Enterprises Inc. has agreed to purchase the land and build a new six-storey hotel on the property.
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