Little interest in Wharton site

Developers have shown little interest in retrying a project on Wharton Street.

Despite a bit of a resurgence this year in the local real estate market, Summerland’s mayor says developers have shown little interest in retrying a twice-cancelled project on Wharton Street.

“I just think that people are not looking for new business opportunities at the moment, but it will come,” said Janice Perrino, who confirmed the district has quit shopping the block of municipally owned properties that at one point was intended to house residential and commercial developments, plus a library, museum and underground parking.

“We stopped marketing it because it takes a lot of time to market and then have things come forward that are not good,” she explained. “And so in a downtrend, you’re not going to get the same action, so we’ve all agreed to just let it go for a bit.”

The district originally inked a sale agreement for the site with Kamloops-based New Futures Building Group in 2008, but the deal expired in 2011 after recessionary forces killed the project.

A numbered company from Kelowna then stepped forward in 2012, but that offer lapsed in 2013 when the firm’s owner became sick and was unable to proceed.

Perrino said the site’s charms — central location, close to downtown and across from Memorial Park — remain in place and it’s just a matter of time before it’s snapped up.

“People know it’s there. Certainly in the construction market people know it’s there, so if it’s of interest, people will come forward,” she said.

“The market is coming back.”

In fact, the total value of property sales in the Summerland area through the first six months of 2014 was nearly double the number for the same period a year earlier, according to statistics compiled by the South Okanagan Real Estate Board.

A total of 154 properties valued at $53.8 million changed hands in the first half of the year, up from 82 properties worth $28.6 million in the first six months of 2013.

Residential property has led the way this year, accounting for $48.3 million of property sold with an average price of $337,761.