– Story by Kathy Michaels Photograph by Darren Hull
Craig Mohr looks at the three old houses he bought on Groves Avenue and sees more than the vestiges of small town Kelowna history.
He sees 450 Parc, a six-story condominium – nestled between the giant plaza of the SOPA development and a quaint, tree-lined playground – that would suit Manhattan as well as what has become one of the most popular neighborhoods. Kelowna’s coveted locations.
“It’s going to be a mix of steel, brick and limestone accents,” said Craig, the owner of Vineyard Developments, one day in late spring as he waved at the phantom features of the development that will be. soon to be built just off Pandosy Street. .
“Much of what you see in Old Town Manhattan, when the old and the new coexist, it will be here. “
The project will offer its residents high-end condos living without the barriers of a large stratum.
On each of the six levels, there will be four units ranging from 1,450 to 1,700 square feet. Everyone will have front-to-back views. And each will be penthouse quality. It’s unique for the city, but Craig has seen the demand for this type of upscale accommodation among his father’s friends, and thinks he’s found the right place to bring his vision to life.
The development is also the culmination of nearly two decades of work and with its completion Craig sees a personal turning point.
He is a fifth generation builder, but he did not fall into the family business. Where his predecessors saw deadlines, budgets and other practical matters, he saw shapes and colors, beauty and poise.
“When I was about 19, my dad asked me if I wanted to take over the family business and I thought, ‘Why would I want to do this? “”
At the time he was working in retail in Edmonton and he liked it – the money was decent, he felt fulfilled and he was having fun. His parents had their concerns, however, and they prompted him to enroll in the management program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, so he nodded.
“It actually went pretty well,” he said.
He took business and marketing programs and came out knowing one thing for sure: he didn’t want the kind of job that would involve getting dirty.
“I wanted to wear a suit and tie to work,” he laughed. “I found a job with Western Star (in Kelowna) and worked there for five years.
It was at the height of the company’s success, which meant Craig was just a footnote in a huge list of employees.
“I realized then that I was not going to do well in a large corporate environment,” he said.
Still young and with the adventure calling him, he left Kelowna and went to Vancouver for a few years, then when his bills started to exceed his income he traveled north to work on rigs. oil. Two years after this very dirty work, 17 years ago, he had an eye opener – the past offered the clearest path to a prosperous future.
“It was pretty cold around Christmas and I called my dad. We had a nice chat and I said I was thinking of starting a construction business in Kelowna and ‘would you consider helping me? »», He remembers. “There was dead silence on the other side of the phone and I could tell he was thinking. Then he said, “Well, how serious are you? I was dirty and cold and tired and said, ‘I’m pretty serious.’ “
And that was it. He stopped floating and found a goal.
Craig’s father was helping First Lutheran find a location for their new school and church, which allowed them to start their first multi-family development.
A piece of land near the Capital News Center was designated for townhouses and Craig and his father took charge of it as a project.
“I was responsible for most of the work, in collaboration with the architect. I priced the development, selected interior design finishes, managed construction, sold all units, handled clients, and performed previous service work, ”he said.
“I personally sat in the sales center and sold the units on the weekends and did the construction during the week. “
For several years, it was “sink or swim”.
The project worked well and there was more for Craig. In the years that followed, he worked on high end custom homes. He has created iconic homes in the Upper Mission and multi-family housing in Penticton and Kelowna. He weathered a real estate crash and made it a success.
“It has all been a huge learning experience,” he said.
It doesn’t mean he’s finished. Now, after learning the ropes and honing his craft, Craig sees himself developing as a communicator and as a person.
“Not a day goes by without there being more to learn,” he said. “You make mistakes, you learn from them and you keep moving forward – it’s really great to be able to do that. “
He did it without compromising who he is. It is always someone who sees shapes and colors, beauty and balance. And with his work springing up around the Okanagan, so do the people who live in the valley.