After three decades as a scar on the city's face, the "concrete shell" downtown may soon be leveled.
Mayor Rajko Dodic confirmed Monday that a demolition order has been served on current owners of the "Atrium Building on 7 Street S. The West Coast company that bought the long-derelict property must tear it down, he said - or the city will have it done.
Either way, the mayor said, the owner will pay for the work - demolition, and removal of the rubble. Work must begin by Jan. 2.
"We intend to proceed," Dodic added. "We have given them every opportunity to restart their project."
The city says the registered owner of the property, currently listed for sale, is Trav Enterprises. The company has offices in Abbotsford and San Diego.
After purchasing the property, Trav proposed to complete the building for office and retail purposes. But city council voted to issue a demolition order in July 2010, if the owner failed to submit a development proposal within the time period provided.
A proposal was brought forward, however, and council approved a development permit in January 2011. Days before it expired a year later, city officials say a building permit was taken out.
Last spring, a local contractor began clean-up work on the structure - for the first time in many years. But then the site was abandoned once again.
Dodic says the demolition order was issued after the latest building permits expired. If Trav Enterprises sells the property, he adds, the order would remain in effect.
Work on the three-storey structure, started in the early 1980s, was abandoned when Canadian interest rates suddenly skyrocketed. The building, which incorporated a wide light shaft for an atrium-like effect, was designed as an office complex.
But a local developer abandoned the project - sited on property once owned by Baalim Motors, an auto dealership - and it never proceeded beyond the concrete work.
Fifteen years later, other local investors talked about completing it as an apartment complex. A Kelowna developer stepped forward later with more detailed development plans, proposing additional floors to create a six-storey apartment building for lower-income residents.
That plan won approval from the city's Social Housing in Action group, plus $2.5 million in federal and provincial grant money. But adjacent property-owners appealed the city's development permit and that plan was eventually dropped.
More recently the developer who created a restaurant in the city's iconic water tower proposed another six-story apartment project. Doug Bergen said the project could cost about $14 million.
The plan was contingent on a substantial grant from the provincial government, however. The grant was denied, and the 2009 proposal met the same fate as the many earlier ones it followed.