- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

There will be residents in the Sydenham Condominiums by the end of the summer. That is the word from Ron Pirie, the developer of the seven-storey project on the Sydenham River in downtown Owen Sound.

Those who wanted the earliest occupancy had bought units on the fourth and fifth floors. The final drywall is being completed on the fifth floor now, and painting begins next week. Flooring comes mid-July and the kitchens are ready to install.

The location of the project on the east bank of the Sydenham River presented unique challenges. "In the beginning, there were hundreds of piles to be driven - that was no surprise," says Pirie. "It was determined by the soil geology."mediaroom Residential properties have a lot of rules, and there has been a high level of due diligence in part because of the visibility of the building in the city.

The common areas – the media room and gym - will be above part of the parking garage. "The parking was too low in the original design," Pirie said, "And we had to raise it. Every one of those changes in the design takes time and approvals before we can take the next step."

Pirie said that regardless of the longer than expected time-line, he appreciated the level of attention from city staff that he called "very detail oriented".

"It is not in the city's interest or mine to have a project that is anything less than the best quality."

Constantly dealing with rumours, Pirie reiterates that there were no delays due to costs, everyone has been paid, and no one has gone bankrupt or run away.

"Changes and delays have meant going back to talk to our lender. The local managers at Meridian Credit Union have been terrific."

layoutThe main floor will have three riverside suites with direct access to the water. There will also be two small offices on the main floor; one with a balcony on the river side. The heritage building materials from the former Knox United Church are currently in storage and will be incorporated into the final common areas.

29 of the first 32 suites have been sold. The final set of drawings for the two suites on the seventh floor are awaiting approvals, after which they will be on offer.

Pirie is very excited about the recently-approved Downtown River Precinct plans. He and Fay Harshman, then owner of the nearby Tim Hortons, contributed towards the original planning with landscape architect Kim Allerton.

Owners of the suites in the Sydenham average in age between 50 and 70 and most are in pre-retirement or retirement. About half are selling houses in the area; the rest are newcomers to town. Pirie says it is clear they can hardly wait to move in.They have customized their suites and are invested both in the building and the community.

One of the owners has already donated a baby grand piano to the common area; another is bringing gym equipment for his new neighbours to share.

Everyone is ready to make the Sydenham home.

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