Johnson: Bernard Avenue upgrade helping downtown renaissance

Improvements to Kelowna's "Main Street" already paying off.

Happy New Year! I must tell you that the positive energy in the air around downtown Kelowna is palpable right now.

It seems that the Bernard revitalization has kicked off a whole slew of new projects scheduled to be completed over the next few years.

In 2013 alone, watch for these projects to come on stream:

• the new Downtown Public Pier (work to begin in late spring, completion planned for early summer), where people will be able to park their boats and enjoy downtown  a gorgeous new two-story glass-fronted Yacht Club

• The expansion of Jim Stuart Park

• The expansion of the Library Parkade along with a new parkade near Memorial Arena

• The new commercial  building on Lawrence Avenue near the Kelowna firehall

• Manhattan II, a new eight-level office building on Manhattan Drive

• A new multi-level residential building on St. Paul Street

• The completion of the new three-level building attached to the Streaming Cafe at Bertram and  Leon to feature offices, studios and a street-level patio

• The near completion of the Bernard Avenue Revitalization by December 2013 (only the surface paving will be left to finish early in 2014)

I predict that all this is just the start of the downtown’s renaissance!

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I discovered a little corner of retail bliss recently. Full Moon, at 1561 Pandosy St. (just off Bernard), is a charming little shop filled with beautiful jewelry of semi-previous stones set in silver and copper, as well as beads and findings.

Owner Izak Michaeli had a kiosk at the mall, but decided he needed more space for a workshop area, so he chose a new larger location downtown.

Largely self-taught, Michaeli makes his elegant custom designs by hand; he also does jewelry repairs, and is planning on teaching jewelry making classes in the future.

What a fabulous downtown find!

Next door to Full Moon is Frock Clothing, at 1567 Pandosy.

The store is an intriguing space filled with pre-loved consignment fashions. You never know what you’ll find on their racks, it could be anything from a retro 1950s dress to a smokin’ pair of True Religion jeans.

Owner Kaela Tompkins also stocks new handmade clothing and accessories from Canadian artisans.

It’s a truly funky shop for all you fashionistas…definitely worth a visit!

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I want to end my column this month with a lovely story about a downtown business that decided to give back at Christmas.

In December, Mimi’s Italian Grill hosted a dinner for a group of Kelowna Gospel Mission clients and their caseworkers.

They served a free three-course dinner to about 40 people, to acknowledge their positive efforts to overcome challenges in their lives.

What a wonderful way for Mimi’s to give back to the community,  and what an uplifting story to start the new year for our downtown.

Jan Johnson is the co-owner of Tigerlily Fashions and Alleycat Fashion Outlet downtown. If you have any news about downtown  business openings and/or events, please email them to her at tigerlilyfashion@shaw.ca or call her at 250-762-8384.