Developing downtown

With more residential units near the downtown, it is possible the area would have more activity downtown in the evenings.

A year ago, developers first showed the public their concept for the Wharton Street project.

On Friday, they returned to present their plans to the municipality’s design committee.

While the final decision to approve the project rests with municipal council, the approval from the design committee represents another step in making the project a reality.

Developers hope to begin construction of the first five-storey building this summer, with an occupancy date planned for December, 2014.

The development will represent a significant change in the look and feel of the downtown area, since the project is to include residential units as well as the museum and library.

With more residential units near the downtown, it is possible the area would have more activity downtown in the evenings.

Elsewhere in Summerland, there are a number of residential pockets, farther from the downtown, which are proving difficult and expensive to service. The costs of providing utilities and the costs of road maintenance, are significant.

While the Wharton Street project will affect the character of the area, it is important to remember this is not a unique concept, even in Summerland.

A recent development on Rosedale Avenue at Peach Orchard Road and a recent development on Victoria Road North near Jubilee Road West both feature residential units in the upper levels.

These developments all fit with the present council direction of infilling and increasing the density close to the core of the community.

When the costs of servicing outlying neighbourhoods and the convenience of core developments are appreciated, it is likely Summerland will see other developments, similar to the Wharton Street proposal, in the years to come.