By John McDonald
I love those artists renderings of future construction, the ones that accompany developer’s promotional materials.
The buildings, regardless of how they eventually turn out, are all smooth, contemporary lines, trendy colours, inviting you, helping you, forcing you to envision the future.
Existing buildings, unless they are fabulous landmarks, are sort of blurred out and marginalized so as not to draw the focus away from what counts.
The people in them are nameless and faceless, yet they all seem to be happy, smiling and having a great time.
The renderings for Kelowna’s proposed CD-21 zone are magnificent. Done on a computer, they show the massive development from dozens of angles, as it would be if were completely built out, as is hoped, in about 20 years.
Opponents of the project paint a different picture, with hard words, not graceful computer animations. They predict cold, empty, lifeless streets, lined by a wall of glorious, but empty high-rises, their rich absentee owners idling life away somewhere else.
Proponents, of course, say the streets in the zone are already cold and lifeless, with the people who should be shopping and dining down there scared off by the currently creepy denizens of Leon and Lawrence Avenues.
Where does the truth lie? Somewhere in the muddle, the muddle being what the CD21 zone could look like in 20 years, if the increasingly complex plan and its nine sub-zones don’t roll out exactly as predicted.
The muddle could be a mix of built-out sub-zones alongside others that aren’t, which continue to develop under the current C7 zoning.
Doug Gilchrist, director of real estate and building services confirms there is really nothing other than the height and density bonuses inherent in the zone bylaw to ensure its completion as envisioned, and that includes the $22-million amenities package.
That’s because there’s nothing stopping any of the numerous property owners within the zone from politely declining the bonus (or an offer to buy) and putting up a brand-new building of their own. There’s just under 50 parcels, some with multiple owners, who may have their own vision for their own property,
Now, suddenly the cost and complication of land assembly in that particular sub-zone goes up and everything changes. How much? Who knows, but be sure there will be lots of lawyers involved.
Council cannot force property owners to participate in the CD-21 zone unless the city expropriates, and it has said repeatedly it won’t do that.
But council can make clear that any requests for a development variance under the C7 zoning would not be forthcoming. No density or height increases, no breaks on parking, or anything else.
How closely councils of the future adhere to that rule is another question. If any of the sub-zone assemblies gets bogged down, will the council of the day want to be seen as standing in the way of at least some progress, in the form of a new building?
The tools the city has in its arsenal to nudge through the completion of the CD-21 zone are persuasive.
Height and density bonuses can add up to millions more in profit for a developer, and give them a reason to get the job done.
But comprehensive development zones usually involve one or two property owners and a municipality. This one has many more players, which is why the CD-21 zone has little real chance of actually looking like the beautiful architectural drawings that promote it.
firstname.lastname@example.orgCD-21 zone drawings have little chance of coming to life
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