PEI

Well-known Summerside corner demolished

The City of Summerside has started a major demolition project in hopes of improving its downtown. 

City says demolition needed to revitalize downtown

The city expects the demolition to take about a month. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The City of Summerside has started a major demolition project in hopes of improving its downtown. 

Four buildings are coming down:  the former Royal Bank, Crockett's Jewelry, the former Cooke Insurance building and the Regent, which was once a movie theatre but more recently a bar and restaurant. 

City officials said some have been vacant for more than a decade and described them as unsightly and dangerous. 

"We had raccoons sitting in the windows in some of the shops … there was graffiti, there was broken glass," said Deputy Mayor Norma McColeman.

'It's one more step moving forward to our hopes and dreams to really revitalize our downtown,' says Coun. Norma McColeman, Summerside's deputy mayor. (Laura Meader/CBC)

McColeman said the city wants to get people downtown and it needs to be revitalized to get them there. 

"The buildings had to come down," she said.

Preparing for future development

The City of Summerside purchased the properties and is paying for demolition and site preparation needed for future development. 

City officials say there wasn't much interest to develop the corner, due to the high costs of demolition. (Laura Meader/CBC)

The entire project is expected to cost about $1.2 million, but officials hope to recoup costs once a developer takes over. 

"We needed to have the ground prepared and development ready, or shovel ready," McColeman said. 

The city has taken short-term ownership of the land to help with future development, she said, as demolition and the ground work would be a high cost to developers. 

"We felt we had to move forward on that property," she said. 

Local historian disappointed

While some describe the area as an eyesore, a local historian said he would like to have seen some buildings saved. 

"I'm feeling very sad," said George Dalton, past president of the Summerside and Area Historical Society.

We can't leave it vacant any longer.— Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart

He said the project is going to take out two very important buildings. 

"Crockett's Jewellers and the Royal Bank, now those two buildings were very solid, they should have been saved," he said. 

Dalton said there should have been more public consultation before the demolition went ahead. 

Residential and commercial plans

The mayor of the city said specific designs haven't been made yet.

"We are looking at some commercial space and maybe apartments on top of the commercial space," said Basil Stewart. 

Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart says a developer hasn't been chosen yet but the city is looking at the potential of an eight-storey building. (Laura Meader/CBC)

He said the project will be a "game changer" for the city. 

With the buildings vacant for so long, the city lost out on tax revenues, Stewart said. 

"We can't leave it vacant any longer," he said. "You need people in the business area."

Stewart said it will be great for the city to redevelop the corner. He said there are developers interested but details have yet to be worked out. 

Stewart expects construction to begin next spring. 

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