The downtown core has had a proliferation of residential lofts being built or renovated in the past couple of years. The real exciting part of this trend is the more spaces that are renovated the more ambitious and creative the newer projects become.
At the turn of the century you could count on one hand the number of lofts in the downtown core. Many of the residential spaces above the street level commercial spaces were abandoned. Other spaces were dated apartments that couldn’t attract the best clientele. In the fourteen years since that time most properties in the area have been transformed to take advantage of the sought after loft space. The possibilities are endless.
I have seen indoor putting greens, roof top hot tubs and patios, even plans for roof top swimming pools. I have seen 25’ ceilings, refinished hardwood floors that were originally installed 163 years ago. Some owners of buildings that contain large vaults and safes have converted these immovable objects to store rooms or wine cellars or bathrooms.
City views or river views are welcome as the occupants of these spaces are after an urban feel. They appreciate the activity in the core. They can walk out their door and find a place to eat, have a coffee, shop or be entertained. They are not concerned if they have to park a block away as that is part of the metropolitan lifestyle. One new resident to the area is using a professional interior decorator to furnish his rented apartment. He, like many other downtown residents, loves to entertain friends at his place or take advantage of events like First Friday.
The residents of downtown Sarnia have the biggest influence on the direction of revitalization for the area, as their spending habits dictate what needs must be fulfilled by businesses. Every time that a residential space in the area gets created or upgraded the merchants of the core benefit.
One developer that will be injecting residents to the district is Jim Pumple. Jim has nearly completed the renovation of the aptly named Observer Building, as the 7 industrial style loft apartments on the second level of the building are provided with spectacular river views. Jim is no stranger to downtown development and his undertaking of this huge project is an indication of the confidence he has in the area. Jim describes his venture as “a terrific spot for lofts”. The view of the river is every changing, with different wildlife that inhabit the river to the entertainment events that take place at the water’s edge.
The Observer Lofts is a one of a kind display of the talented individuals we have within this community. We have used local trades, products and ideas as much as possible while bringing an urban style into the loft creations. Each unit has its own unique open industrial concept with 16 ft ceilings, lots of glass and in some the addition of granite counter-tops and porcelain tiles. Features include private balconies, 2 parking spots, large storage space, video security and individual washer/dryer. We have also been able to include some very large photos in the common space of the original printing press.”
As a big proponent of the downtown cultural district I say congratulations to the residents that have been downtown for a long, long time. To the newcomers, I offer a welcome. To those that are contemplating moving to or investing in the area, well I say it’s time you hurry up and get down here.
by Patrick Coutu