Development moves ahead for downtown Summerland

Ground breaking expected in February for residential-commercial development that will also house museum and library

The documents have now been signed for a development on Summerland’s Wharton Street.

Developers and members of municipal council met to sign the paperwork last Thursday. Mayor Janice Perrino said the multi-storey development will benefit the downtown area.

“This is such good news for Summerland,” she said. “This is a real boost. It will help to revitalize our downtown.”

Before construction can begin, the developers will need a development permit and a building permit. The development permit will go to the municipality’s design committee and then to council.

Randy Gibson, one of the developers, said the target for ground breaking is February 2013. The completion of the first building is expected for early 2014.

Joe Mahovlich, another of the developers, said the project’s value will be between $90 and $120 million.

Perrino said the development will help the downtown area. “This whole project is in the core,” she said. “It’s where we want to grow.”

The developers have been working on this project for the past 18 months.

In spring, they presented conceptual drawings of the project at a public open house.

The first five-storey building in the plan will have an area of more than 6,000 square metres. It will include commercial and professional spaces and residential units.

Additional buildings are also planned. The development will also house the Summerland branch of the Okanagan Regional Library and the Summerland Museum.

At present, both are in buildings much too small to meet their present needs.

The library, with an area of 316 square metres, is 48 per cent of the size needed to adequately serve Summerland’s present population, according to the Okanagan Regional Library.

The building was opened in 1981. Since 2003, the Okanagan Regional Library board has been working to find a larger library location to  house the Summerland branch.

The museum, with an area of 372 square metres, is also facing problems because of space limitations. The building has been in place since 1983.

While the project has been billed as a Wharton Street development, Gibson said the focal point will be on Kelly Avenue, across from Memorial Park.

For several years, the municipality has been looking to develop the area.

Earlier, another developer had expressed interest in the Wharton Street project, but an agreement was not signed and the plan expired in January 2011.

The property was then re-evaluated on March 28, 2011.

Municipal planner Ian McIntosh said the project will include a $2.8 million cultural centre, a $2.1 million museum and $1.037 million worth of servicing in the area.