Hip trend reaches Kelowna project
Sopa Square includes tower
Neighbourhoods with abbreviated names have been popular ever since New Yorkers appropriated London’s swingin’ SoHo district with their very own SoHo — short for “South of Houston” in the mid 1980s.
Portland, Ore. has its NoPo (North Portland), the neighbourhood at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver is called LoLo, and Vancouver has its SoMa (south of Main) district.
Now, this hip neighbourhood-naming trend is reaching Kelowna, where a new project called SoPa (south of Pandosy) Square is taking shape.
The Pandosy name is linked to Kelowna’s earliest settlement by Catholic priest Charles Pandosy in the mid1850s.
Kelowna’s modern-day fame for vineyards and wineries is actually nothing new: Father Pandosy planted grapes that were turned into communion wine for early parishioners.
Thankfully, the wine has improved since those days.
Kelowna locals have long referred to the Pandosy shopping district, which stretches for several blocks past the newly renovated general hospital and culminates at a crossroads with K.L.O. (short for “Kelowna Land and Orchard”) Road.
The east side of Pandosy features a bevy of shops and services well-loved by locals; they include the Good Earth coffee house, Hector’s Casa (Mexican food), Cranberry Junction (home decor), and Kelowna Cycle.
The west side of the street, though, has long had a decidedly tired look to it, with its bottle return depot, Liquidation World (now closed) and a sporting goods rental.
It took six years for Kelowna developer Ed Fenwick and his partners to assemble the land and permits for the SoPa Square project.
The various components include an 11-storey tower that is “split” by an elevator that accesses apartment homes on either side.
The perimeter of the property will feature groundfloor commercial space, with three storeys of townhouses above street level.
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It’s hoped a Granville Island-like public courtyard will attract musicians and entertainers in the summer months.
In a city that has seen its share of helter-skelter development over the past decade — many of which are facing major challenges — SoPa Square introduces some progressive, forward-thinking ideas that may make it the right project at the right time.
Kelownians love their cars and trucks, partly because everything is so spread out, but SoPa will put local shops, culture, and recreation within walking distance of its residents.
Ground-floor commercial space augments existing businesses in the neighbourhood and the project is within a 10-minute walk to Gyro Beach and Strathcona Park, the latter being one of Kelowna’s best kept secrets.
Indeed, the entire neighbourhood has received a massive shot in the arm with a major expansion at the Kelowna General Hospital, just down the road.
Fenwick’s daughter Stacey leads the sales and marketing team.
“The project encompasses a full city block and we have successfully leased virtually all of our commercial space to Okanagan-owned businesses, such the Twisted Roots Market, Mission Meats, Bliss Bakery, and Codfather’s seafood market.”
While the focus is local, the community vision breaks with Okanagan tradition to offer the highest standards of sustainable design yet offered to area residents.
SoPa’s initial design and concept were created by internationally acclaimed architects Perkins+Will; with further assistance coming from the local Okanagan firm of Mieklejohn Architects.
Environmentally friendly design has been a consistent aspect of Fenwick’s Okanagan homes and commercial space; he has constructed R-2000 certified homes in B.C. and has pioneered the use of geothermal heat exchange units in commercial buildings throughout the Okanagan.
SoPa Square will feature many environmentally friendly features found in LEED-certified buildings.
SoPa Square offers five one-bedroom plans, eight two-bedroom plans, and three plans with three bedrooms and a flex space.
Luxurious, fully customizable top-floor penthouse suites come with 1,100-square-foot decks.
An amenities centre will include a fitness centre, shared kitchen/meeting room space, outdoor hot tub, 12-metre lap pool, private courtyard and even a putting green, since golf is big in the Okanagan.
Prices for one-bedroom homes range from $351,000 to $484,000, two-bedrooms start at $697,000, and the penthouse suite can be yours for just over $2 million.
The 96 residential units will be ready for occupancy in the spring of 2013.
SoPa Square’s “conscious living” mantra would be an easy sell in trendy Lower Mainland neighbourhoods, but is perhaps a bit more challenging in car-centric Kelowna.
However, Fenwick reports that sales have been strong, despite the overall malaise in the Okanagan real estate market.