Aqua Waterfront Village (AWV) is a love letter to Kelowna’s holistic sentiments and affinity for wellness. The area is rife in outlets for self-care, relaxation, beauty, and overall joy. But perhaps most salient for Jonathan Friesen, CEO at Mission Group and developer of this property – is that it offers opportunities to build genuine connections and cherished memories with loved ones.
“I used to build for bravado but now I build for family,” he explains. As a real estate developer whose storied career began in 1987, he was an ambitious and spunky twenty-something-year-old with the mindset that ‘if you build it, they will come’. It was optimistic but short sighted as there were learning curves and growing pains but ultimately, he completed a high-rise project in Vancouver called 1000 Beach. Fast forward three decades, and Friesen’s journey took him through a mid-career retirement to focus on raising his two sons with his wife – and then embarking on a new venture and founding Mission Group in 2004. Today he’s as determined as ever – but the years have supplied him with a more mindful tact. In his 60s and now a grandfather to a vivacious 4-year-old granddaughter, he’s cultivated much more introspection from work and life – and imbued this wisdom into this latest project, which comes full circle from 1000 Beach.
There have been other projects in Mission Group’s 20+ year portfolio but Aqua remains particularly close to his heart. In fact, insiders jokingly dub this property as Aqua 2.0. “1000 Beach (lowkey referred to as Aqua 1.0) was a great project but I was young and overcompensated by building something and assuming there would be buyers – obviously this mindset had huge limitations. Whereas today, this mentality is completely the reverse now. So whenever I pass by it (1000 Beach), while I am proud of it – I see all the decisions I made back then and I think to myself, ‘oh I could have tweaked this and changed that…” As a result, he likes to think of Aqua Waterfront Village as a thoughtful reboot and with ample upgrades – particularly with its focus on the wellbeing of people rather than solely on the structure itself.
As a result, this new property – which is nestled in Kelowna’s Lower Mission neighborhood, intends to offer a robust sense of place and belonging. With the Okanagan Lake’s beckoning backdrop – the already calming energy of the water soothes you. In fact, studies attest to its revitalizing benefits and Friesen – along with IBI Group and PWL Landscape Architects – have manifested this energy into the design of the property whose three staggered towers (which almost appear as sleek sailing ships) are meant to mimic the sense of water flowing down a creek.
Water is so integral and cherished that boating culture is another pillar Aqua Waterfront Village owes its foundation to: the aptly named the Aqua Boat Club (situated beside the residence and slated for completion in 2023), will be a paid membership program that allows boating activities to be seamlessly integrated into the residents lifestyle -which is centered upon a state-of-the-art boathouse which will rack, retrieve, and launch members’ boats or provide access a bespoke roster of vessels via their boat sharing program. All of this, adds Friesen, is meant to reinforce the connection between the land, the water, and its people.
Aqua Waterfront Village itself can be thought of as a hybrid concept: part resort, part hotel, and part community residence; and when it is finally completed (they anticipate a project completion of around 2025), it strives to offer a community dwelling with an overarching philosophy of wellness. Such highlights include hydrotherapy via their lakeview pool, cold plunge, hot tubs, and outdoor saunas; there will also be personalized/private meditation and yoga (rooms) available; and continued opportunities to immerse yourself in nature via guided hikes along the Mission Creek Greenway, as a starting point.
Friesen is so enamored with this project that he sheepishly considers it his ‘third child’ and admits to purchasing one of these lakeside residences for him and his wife. “As a developer, you should never fall in love with your project, but I did…sometimes it just happens and you cannot help it.” And yet, this kind of sincerity is precisely what has resonated with so many people.
Due to the numerous developmental delays (some from government regulations and others due to the pandemic) the building and its anticipated completion has garnered quite a cult following. Moreover, for prospective buyers – they’ve noted the design, care, and consideration put into AWV which has appealed to many across Canada and in the United States.
Meghan Smith, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Mission Group, explains that these individuals are primarily at a turning point in their lives: they are re-evaluating what’s most important to them and at the life stage where they still desire the finer things in life but a more curated and ‘downsized’ version. With tower 1 sold out and 50% of units left in towers 2 and 3, respectively – apparently, AWV has answered these needs.
In offering a quiet confidence and elegant allure – the interiors have been meticulously overseen by Lisa Perry, Director of LPI Design whose three decades working in fashion, art, and development properties have punctuated every one of the homes interior with its timeless style. It’s a modernist expression of the natural environment and urban landscape.
Ultimately, there’s a calm and reflective pride that Jon exudes and it’s reverberated across time and this space.