By Julie Whittet
New hotels, apartments and upscale condos will mean busy days ahead for local shop owners in the Mission. The tourist-commercial developments planned near South Pandosy and through to the Lakeshore Drive near Rotary Beach are sure to bring new foot traffic to local businesses in Kelowna.
From the 11-storey SOPA Square project to the $130 million expansion of Manteo Resort, the Mission is poised for an extensive transformation that is sure to impact sales for shop owners and businesses in the area.
“When it's finished, it's gonna be great,” says Ed Desjardins, manager of 25 years at the Lakeview Market. He expects the new developments will “clean up the area, and make it a lot more desirable for people to walk.” Foot traffic brings a lot of customers to the store, located at the corner of Pandosy Street and Cedar Avenue.
“Since Urban Fare opened we've gotten more customers,” says Desjardins. “ It used to be mainly seniors, but now it runs the gamut,” says Desjardins of his customers. The Lakeview market sits directly across the looming structure of the SOPA Square development, still waiting for its full build out.
Desjardins is eager to see the new developments up and running, “there's so many rumours out there about SOPA, it would be nice to get it finished,” he says.
Down the road, past the Wilson Creek Bridge, a neighbourhood pub also shares in the enthusiasm. “Having more people in the area can't do anything but help us,” says Debbie Norris, assistant manager at The Creekside Pub and Grill. Norris says that the 35-year old pub has been going strong since the arrival of upscale establishments like the Cabana Restaurant and condos on Cook Road.
“I'm more worried about the bridge expansion,” says Norris. “Its going to affect us for quite some time, because we're the first business as you come across the bridge.”
The City of Kelowna is currently working on plans to restore the stretch of road from Cook Road to Lexington Drive. The aim is “to clean it up, do some some utility work and replace the bridge” says Brian Oliveira, city traffic engineering technician.
To accommodate truck traffic during the construction phase, Olivera says “we widened Gordon in 2010 to four lanes, and will detour the traffic through there.”
Desjardins also shared his concern about the availability of parking space.
“Parking is always a big issue, the bigger the buildings the more parking you need.” Over the years, employees of local businesses have been struggling to find parking. “We need some type of parkade or something. It's tough, parking is always tough,” he says.
But according to a survey by the City of Kelowna, there's plenty of parking in the area and more is on the way. “The SOPA Square will have an underground parkade” Oliveira says.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250) 718-0428.