Despite the best efforts from nearby residents to reverse the controversial fate of an Eckhardt Avenue development project, the site of one of Penticton’s oldest and most beloved restaurants appears on its way to being turned into a three-storey office building sooner rather than later.
Bogner’s of Penticton, a Tudor-style home built in 1915 that later served as one of the city’s most iconic fine-dining joints, was subject to a long, contentious public hearing Tuesday night, Feb. 7.
It ended with council voting by a margin of 4-3 to terminate the land use contract that would have delayed the redevelopment project until June 2024.
The slim vote allows developers to move forward with construction, implementing its plan to tear down the building and turn it into commercial office space.
The site, located at 302 Eckhardt Avenue, was already zoned for multi-storey commercial space and was not listed on Penticton’s Heritage Register.
Mayor Julius Bloomfield was joined by councillors Campbell Watt, Issac Gilbert and Helena Konanz in terminating the land use contract.
Councillors James Miller, Ryan Graham and Amelia Boultbee were opposed.
“This is by far and away the most challenging decision I’ve seen this council make since it was inaugurated,” said Bloomfield. “If we put it on the heritage registry then we’d have to compensate the owner and the compensation, in this case, could end up being as much as the value of the land.
“We have the zoning which is a promise of what could be done with the property and we’d be reneging on that promise if we didn’t allow development.”
Delaying the project until 2024 wouldn’t stop the current owner of the property from applying to demolish the building, Bloomfield added.
“There’s nothing to stop the demolition of the building on the property,” the mayor said. “These are all factors that we need to take into consideration.”
The redeveloped site will feature 35 parking spaces, with access from Argyle Street.
In regards to the soon-to-be constructed three-storey office building, among the concerns shared by residents at Tuesday’s public hearing included neighbourhood fit and loss of heritage — sentiments echoed by Coun. Miller.
“We need housing, we don’t need office space and I make no apologies for supporting heritage,” Miller said.
The city has received several letters of opposition from the public since early December, when council issued a development variance permit for the property.
A petition urging council to preserve the Tudor-style home was signed by a total of 128 nearby residents.
The restaurant itself has scaled back operations in recent years, moving its business model closer in line with a catering and private events establishment.
Its storied past and status as one of the Okanagan’s finest restaurants, however, has been well-documented since the property was first subject to development in December 2022.
The Western News recently shared some of the fondest memories the restaurant had to offer, courtesy of former sous chef Frank Cosgrove.