Ben Bull channels Jason Leach as he wanders the streets of Hamilton in ghostly torment.
By Ben Bull
Published July 01, 2005
Summer is here, so RTH is doing what every other lazy-arse North American seems to be doing. That's right - we're slacking off.
RTH is shutting up shop for 6 weeks, slapping on the sun tan lotion, and generally avoiding any work for which we don't get paid, such as ... well, such as writing for RTH, eh Ryan? Ryan? Hey Ryan! Where's all this advertising money? Whaddaya mean we have a "no advertising policy"? Screw that! I'm broke and Susie wants a new necklace - get hustling! [You may not get paid, Ben, but your expense account is staggering. And why is all your research conducted in Hess Village, anyway? - Ed.]
OK, where was I? Ah Yes! Welcome to another sizzling edition of Hamilton's favourite activist update - the Word On The Street! This issue's scorching events summary features more café openings, more downtown construction, more political shenanigans and more, well, more of the same really. So please, read on!
Let's start by looking up an old friend. What is that old stalwart Bill Powell up to these days? Painting? Well, yes, of course he's painting, but he's also setting up a Downtown Cultural Centre in the former Salvation Army church at Hughson and Rebecca. No word yet on when this is going to be up and running, but it sounds like just what the downtown doctor ordered. We'll keep you posted.
Who's that heading for the Staircase? Rumours and rumblings abound that a bunch of prospective new owners have been making serious enquiries. Can't say any more than that (because I don't know) but, again - as soon as we do know - so will you!
Who says Aerotropolis is a "done deal"? Well, our Mayor does, according to a City source we heard from last week. And what's more, the word is that Wal-Mart is eyeing up 40 acres along Upper James and Hwy 20. Great! More high quality jobs brought to us courtesy of the Aerotropolis...
Concession street news...a new Portuguese deli and market called Garcias has just opened near Upper Wentworth. A new ice cream café also opened up in the same area, as did Spice of life (not sure what they are serving). It's great to see more local businesses and good eateries popping up. Why not check 'em out and tell us what you think?
AGH Architect Bruce Kawabara was in the news again this month. An interview in 'H' mag featured his far out idea for our beloved Farmers Market. Bruce wants to knock out the entire corner of Jackson Square at King and James and build a market building "like no other". Sound crazy? Well don't say that to RTH's Jason Leach. Jason suggested the same sort of thing a few months ago and, now I come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I did call him "crazy" back then. But Hey! Now that Brucey is saying it, it sounds just fine.
Still with Mr. Leach: downtown's nosiest neighbour found himself at the Grand opening of Brownies Downtown Fine foods last week. He assures us that there was not an overpriced Oreo Cookie in sight! Sorry, that's the Girl Guides. So what do the Brownies do? Mr. Leach reports that "the place was packed" and that it "looks quite upscale and almost out of place right across the street from the Spallacci block...but it's a nice addition for sure." Go down and check it out, and be sure to tell us what you think.
About that Spallacci block - rumour has it that it is close to being redeveloped with upper floor lofts and street retail, along with a new six storey residential addition at the back of the building. If this happens and King goes two-way, watch out!
Anyone for Asian fare? A new sushi bar is opening on King Street next door to the Bauhinia Chinese Restaurant (which is next to Yu and Yu Tea house). Also, three great looking Asian businesses have opened their doors in the old Tourism Hamilton building at King and Catharine. The sign advertises over 100 sushi items and all you can eat for $13 at lunch, and $17-$20 at dinner.
More restaurant news: 7 Windows on Aberdeen and Dundurn is set to open within the next month. This is brought to you by Junction owner Ronn Mattai, so you know it's going to be good. Also, it looks like downtown's newest hotel - http://www.hamiltonshotel.com - is about to open for business. With all these goings on it looks like Hamilton's out-of-towners are going to have no problem keeping busy.
Me and the kiddies took a trip down to Williams Coffee pub on the Bay last week and found a whole whack of construction going on. Word is these folks are renovating the east and west side of the building, and that the new café/restaurant will be similar to the one on Main West - with a new menu and lots of cool seating areas. There will also be two patios, one on the east side and one on the west. Construction will take place over the summer, during which time the café will stay open. What with the Marine Discovery Center, the newly opened Café on The Bay, and the boat tours running right there, this little spot appears to be a slowly blossoming people place. Why not go and add yourself into the mix and enjoy the very best of what Hamilton has to offer? You won't be disappointed.
Now where did I put that time machine? International BIA Director "Mustard" Mary Poicus told RTH that Hamilton's downtown is planning to go "back to the future"! Apparently tive buildings in the International Village have sold recently and the owners plan commercial space on the street level with upper floor residential. And the new owners plan to live in the buildings! Now that's what we call standing behind your investment. Let's hope this trend continues and erases the blight of absentee landlords and derelict buildings that have plagued our downtown for soooo many years.
Still in the village - look out for a new art gallery and café in the King and Walnut area coming soon. Another art gallery and other similar "urban retailers" are expected soon at 42 Mary St. at Rebecca St. This building is currently being renovated for upper floor residential. The project is being developed by Hamilton Native Homes who have already done fine work on Barton Street. Perhaps a native art gallery will accompany this new space? Let's hope so.
Mustard Mary is joining the chorus of two-way street advocates. After being denied a street closure on King Street for the Mustard Festival (HSR cited several concerns but, evidently, no solutions), the BIA Chief is telling city staff and politicians to get working on a two-way plan for King and Main. If you know Mustard Mary, you'll know that when she tells you something - you should probably just do it.
We at RTH passionately support these concerns. It's ridiculous that a city as small as Hamilton needs to have 24 lanes of east/west traffic roaring through the downtown - and that's only on Main, King, Wilson, Cannon and Barton. Never mind other streets like Charlton, Hunter, and Herkimer. It's high time all this was fixed, and not through some protracted long-term timetable that just epitomizes our current "softly softly" downtown revitalization approach. Hamilton needs two-way streets, and we need them now! Call your councillor today! (I'm serious by the way. If you don't speak up, who will?)
OK, that's all from me. Have yourselves a fantastic summer. Be sure to check out all the happenings during festival season, go hang out by the Bay, and spend lots of money downtown! Together, if we try, we can surely Raise The Hammer, and make our city a truly wonderful place to be.
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