By on October 26, 2011

With development in the Osoyoos area at a near standstill, Bellstar and the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB) delivered some welcome news last week – the long-time partners will soon begin work on Phase 3 of the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort.
Sixteen residential units are to be built in the initial phase of the project – one of four planned – known as Residences at Spirit Ridge.
Construction is expected to begin in early 2012. Curt Jansen, Bellstar’s Director of Resort Real Estate in the Okanagan, says 12 of the 16 units have already been sold and he expects the first owners will be able to move in by late summer or early fall of 2012.
The project is expected to create 75 to 90 jobs over the next four or five years, says Eric Watson, Bellstar’s vice-president of corporate development and real estate. “That includes construction – which is expected to take six to nine months – and the operation of the new phase.”
“Local companies will be highly considered,” Watson added, “and employment opportunities will be offered predominantly to skilled workers from Osoyoos and Oliver, although the net will be cast wider to fill some of the more specialized roles.”
That’s certainly good news for Osoyoos’s ailing economy. Development permit figures released at Monday’s council meeting reveal little activity on the construction front, and that in a year in which construction activity has been at a consistently low ebb.
The Spirit Ridge project is not included in the town’s development figures because it is located on OIB land; however, it still represents a welcome boost to local tradespeople.
It may also signal the beginning of a turnaround in construction activity. In a recent interview, Alain Cunningham, the town’s director of planning and development services, said just over the horizon is the Oasis development. That is a massive project featuring a mix of residential housing and a medical-commercial complex.
Construction on the medical complex is expected to start in 2012. The town also recently issued a development permit for a multi-residential complex on Nighthawk Drive.
Jansen echoed those optimistic sentiments in announcing the Spirit Ridge project. “The Residences at Spirit Ridge marks the most successful real estate launch in the region in the past three years,” he said. “Much has been made about the downturn in the market for recreational property, but this . . . proves that there is still a significant demand for quality recreational and retirement properties in the South Okanagan.”
The Residences of Spirit Ridge units differ from other properties on the site in that they are designed for year-round living. Phases 1 and 2 of the Spirit Ridge complex offered fractional ownership. However, Jansen said, purchasers in the latest project will still have the option of participating in a rental and exchange program.

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