Downtown on the cusp of a resurgence

Although we’ve been warned before to beware of the predictions of prognosticators who claim to have gathered evidence of future trends

Although we’ve been warned before to beware of the predictions of prognosticators who claim to have gathered evidence of future trends, we’re going to put ourselves in that realm this week.

Sylvan Lake’s downtown core is on the upswing, we predict.

A vision of a vibrant, walkable area full of activity will be realized in the next few years.

One of the indicators is included in this week’s review of building permits during the past year. It indicates commercial construction in the downtown core surpassed other commercial areas of the community.

Now, we agree, that was helped significantly by one major project which certainly plays a factor. The revitalization of the old Cobb’s AG Foods building into a multi-unit complex of commercial and office spaces accounted for $2 million of the $2.674 million included in 13 permits.

While it played a factor in increasing the value of permits issued in the downtown area last year, we believe it’s going to be a strong contributor to a shakeup in the business community, drawing tenants, office workers and shoppers.

It’s interesting to note that going back in history, before the day of supermarkets, Sylvan Lake’s main street was filled with small, specialty shops such as the butcher, baker and candle stick maker (well maybe not the last). And in some cases they were located in Cobb’s Block alongside the general store.

Combined with the new construction will be work in other areas undertaken by the town. The Centennial (50th) Street Design Development project, being completed by the town at a cost of $80,000, is reaching its final stages. Four schematic redevelopment concepts were presented to a focus group last year. Part of the idea is to improve the street while aligning it with changes in the Waterfront area. A full report is expected at the next council meeting Feb. 10.

Another reason we predict increased growth and interest in our downtown core (which we suggest includes the Lakeshore Drive area) is the creation, under the leadership of the town’s Economic Development Officer Vicki Kurz, of a Business Recruitment Team. The goal of this group is “to provide guidance and advice on matters pertaining to recruitment of new businesses to town. It’s also involved in maintaining current businesses.

With entrepreneurs, property owners, real estate professions, a banker, and chamber of commerce representative on the team, we expect great things from the work this group does in expanding the selection of goods and services available in Sylvan Lake.

Of course, there’s one other huge factor in change and improvement in our downtown. That’s the economy and the ability of those interested in creating the vision outlined to invest. We believe there’s a pent-up demand that’s going to quickly bubble to the surface and we’re going to see some interesting and intriguing projects proposed and completed in the near term.

Yes, Sylvan Lake is well on its way to becoming a lively, attractive location for business. Particularly since we’re only a few short weeks away from warmer weather which will promote more foot traffic.