New ‘heritage’ hotel promising for downtown

A new hotel is the best news that downtown Abbotsford has received in a long time.

There have been numerous positive changes in the historic downtown recently. Randy Bishop’s renovation of the former Gosling’s property for Mad Dog’s Source for Sports has been one of the most extensive and high profile. Others include the Ambassador Travel downtown site and the conversion of a former problematic nightclub property into new retail operations.

There are numerous great businesses located and thriving downtown – too many to list here. There are also many plucky entrepreneurs trying hard to succeed in the historic business district.

Unfortunately the downtown commercial area fails to reach its full potential because of the obvious criminal element there. The drug trade is openly plied, and prostitution has been even more obvious.

The Abbotsford Police have tried to keep a lid on the situation, using downtown mountain bike patrols and cops on the beat on foot.

However, the best thing that could happen for the downtown is a downtown hotel, and the project recently announced could be the area’s salvation. The six-storey heritage-style structure on Pauline Street represents up to $25 million in investment.

This is not being undertaken by a naive newcomer, but rather local businessman Peter Warkentin. Once best known as a Liberal candidate, Warkentin is now the managing director of Quadra Homes.

With a 100-room hotel and restaurant locating downtown, what other businesses will want to go there? The potential for our downtown is massive, and Downtown Business Association president Bob Bos sounds like more of a prophet than cheerleader when he says “downtown Abbotsford is on the move.”

Warkentin is packing a promising snowball, and is about to start it rolling. We hope that city hall and his fellow downtown merchants will also get behind it.

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