Special Report: Pan Am

ROI: Not just the French Word for King

At the end of the day, the implications of not investing in the West Harbour will be significant in the long term.

By Graham Crawford
Published January 22, 2011

We're down to the wire on the Pan Am stadium site, but the vote is about so much more than just selecting a site for the stadium. It's also about ensuring we use the money we're prepared to invest, and the money we're asking others to invest, in a way that ensures we get the best return on our investment.

If you see ROI as only the French word for king, then we've got some work to do. Kidding aside, ROI is a term most people know and think about a lot, both because some like to and also because most of us have to.

If you've only got a set number of dollars to invest or spend, for a lot of people it's about ensuring you get as much for those dollars as possible, whether you're buying a building or buying ingredients to make a dinner for your family.

How you define maximum and return are really the key concepts here. If it were as simple as an interest rate, or a capital gain over time from your house for example, the decision would be pretty easy.

This one is not. That's because this one is about the economic and social multiplier effect of the capital invested. In other words, how can we leverage the money we put in so that others will be encouraged to invest their money too based on our lead so the most people benefit in the end?

While some developers in some parts of the country are prepared to roll the dice and wait for customers to find them, investors in Hamilton are obviously a little more cautious. They prefer to see others go first - to let others test the waters before jumping in themselves.

This is where I stand with the West Harbour investment. But I, and several other contributors to RTH, have already written about why we should invest our Future Fund money there.

I think it's time - and there's precious little of that left - to move beyond just focusing on a stadium, and a franchise, and even a sports legacy, all of which I support with a few caveats. It's time to look at some real numbers and within a broader context.

Investment ROI at West Harbour

I don't pretend to have all of the numbers. I haven't had a couple of dozen staff working on my assessment around the clock in the eleventh and a half hour. What I do have are some friends who have some experience with the Hamilton development market. So, I asked around.

Let me preface what follows with an important statement. Although I use an example of a condo development, I'm also supportive of mixed income rental as well. Mixed is always better. Social inclusion should not be an after-thought (see Sarah Wayland's current piece on RTH). Ghettoization, whether for the rich or for those with lower incomes, I trust we can all agree is not the best path forward.

OK, let's say we have some money with which to invest in residential development in Hamilton. Let's say we've got, or at least have access to, $35 million. What can we get with our money?

Consider the following guidelines:

  1. We want to build 2 residential towers connected on the first two floors by a podium, a not-uncommon configuration.
  2. Each tower will be 14 storeys tall (not huge, but by no means tiny)
  3. Each floor will have 6 units on it meaning 84 units per tower for a total of 168 family units.
  4. On average, the units will be 1000 s.f. (or 6,000 s.f. per floor for a total of 84,000 s.f. per tower for a grand total of 168,000 s.f.)
  5. Retail/commercial will be included at grade level in each of the 2 towers accounting for a total of 12,000 s.f.

So, what do the dollars look like?

Developer's Standpoint

From the developer's standpoint, construction costs would likely run around $200 p.s.f. That means $200 x 168,000 s.f. = $33,600,000 spent locally to build the place. Trades, materials, fixtures, etc. This excludes the fact that the developer had to buy the land, and risk his or her capital to get the project off the ground, not to mention all of the costs associated with the planning and marketing and carrying of the project. Developers will be the first to say these pre-building costs are significant.

Purchaser's Standpoint

From the purchaser's standpoint, a 1,000 s.f. condo overlooking Hamilton's harbour, escarpment and downtown would likely sell for approximately $325,000. Maybe a bit less on the lower floors. Perhaps a bit more on the top floors. With 168 units, that generates around $55,000,000 for the developer.

City of Hamilton's Standpoint

From the City of Hamilton's standpoint, the developer will pay the City $15,000 per unit in one-time development charges which generates $2,500,000. The City will also receive property taxes from each of the owners of the units of approximately $3,0000 per year. That generates $500,000 per year on an ongoing basis. The retail/commercial property taxes generally run around $3.50 p.s.f. So, if the building had 12,000 s.f. of retail space, it would generate about $42,000+ of property taxes per year.

What's the net result for the City of Hamilton? That's where you have to open your mind to expanding your definition of ROI. Based solely on the obvious numbers, the City of Hamilton would receive:

City Revenue from Residential Towers
First Year $3,042,000
Each Year thereafter $542,000 (plus inflation, etc.)

This total is from a single development, which is not the only development possible in the West Harbour, even with a stadium.

Remediation Required

The likelihood of this development, or other developments like it, happening without government involvement is extremely low. As Tim Mattioli said in the late summer:

The Realtors Association from the beginning has been in support of the WH location. We have an opportunity to clean up a derelict site with Federal and Provincial money that no private developer will ever touch... The West Harbour is where this stadium needs to go as far as the Realtors Association is concerned.

This problem with soil remediation is a fact. The location is outstanding. The quality of the soil is not. And it will not get any better, or any more viable for a private developer, just because we think it will - at least not in our lifetimes.

A catalytic action is required. The Pan Am Games and its stadium is one of those actions, an action that sadly seems to comes along only once in a while, or even a lifetime. In my opinion, Pan Am money doesn't stop residential development in the West Harbour, it ensures it.

Three Developments Scenario

What if we accept that two more developments of this kind, including mixed income, high density housing, could happen in the precinct bounded by Cannon, Stuart, Bay and Queen? The development charges alone would generate $7,500,000. Annual property taxes would be in the range of $1,600,000 per year - all from three somewhat large-scale, private sector developments.

Not only that, but more residential means greater stability and health for existing and new retailers in the immediate area. Added to that, we would net possibly $3,000,000 for the Ivor Wynne site if we sold it to a developer, plus the development fees and annual property taxes from the residential that would undoubtedly be developed on the site, ideally at least medium density, mixed income.

All of a sudden, a funding gap that may, or may not, exist starts to look smaller. We give to get.

Here's the sticky part. Some may already have concluded that if this idea of residential intensification is possible and so lucrative in the West Harbour, why would we not make it 100 percent residential?

It's a fair question. If we had unlimited funding, that would be a good idea. The problem is that we don't. Not by a long shot. In fact, we have one Future Fund, and it is about to be reduced by $45,000,000 for the stadium alone.

Reinvestment Around IWS

Some might ask, why can't we expect similar interest in and around a re-built Ivor Wynne site? To test this theory, I spoke to a couple of business people I know, one of whom is a developer. OK, a sample of two, but if you can repeat the poll, please do so and share your results.

I asked, "If you had $10 million of your own money you wanted to invest (use as many or as few zeros as you like to help in personalizing the question) and I said I had two choices for you to consider. One is building a condo development on remediated industrial land north of Barton near Ivor Wynne, or on remediated industrial land north of Barton in the west harbour. Which would you choose?"

Both responded the same way. "There is only one choice. The west harbour."

That's not a slur on Ward 3, any more than it's praise for Ward 2. It's not about Wards, it's about a location. It's about minimizing economic risk and about believing one location will provide a better ROI than the other - not just for developers, but also for all citizens.

After all, the Future Fund is owned by all citizens. That's just the way it is, at least for the foreseeable future in Hamilton. What would you do if you were going to invest $300,000 of your own money? $30,000? $3,000? $300? Which of the two locations would you pick? Why?

Catalystic Investment

If you have access to different numbers than do I, please share them. At the end of the day though, based on the numbers I've pushed, the implications of not investing in the West Harbour will be significant in the long term.

Setting Sail is a great concept, but in the harsh world of economic reality, it's just not going to happen on its own. It needs a catalytic investor. It looks as if governments will have to be that investor in this situation.

Imagine more people of varying incomes living downtown, all within walking distance of incredible publicly-operated and recently enhanced assets such as the Farmer's Market, Main Library, City Hall, Copps Coliseum, AGH, Whitehern, Bayfront Park, Pier 8, Gore Park. Add to the list a GO station near LIUNA, James North, shops and all of a sudden the reality of critical mass is before our eyes and in our neighbourhoods.

We enhance existing assets by adding to them, not remotely, but within their midst. This is the fundamental principle of critical mass.

To all Councillors, I ask that they spend our money wisely. Spend it in a way that it will do the most good for the most people over the long term. Vote to support a catalytic action that builds on a set of existing public and private assets. A catalytic action that is only possible in the immediate term through government investment. Through going first. Through leading the way.

That is your challenge. You know already it's a very difficult one. But, if I may, please don't see your challenge as whether or not to build half a stadium with all of the money.

Good luck to every single citizen in this great city. There's a fork in the road and the path our Councillors select on our behalf will have significant implications well beyond the term of this, and many subsequent, Councils. Think in terms of generations, not just in terms of Grey Cups.

Graham Crawford was raised in Hamilton, moving to Toronto in 1980 where he spent 25 years as the owner of a successful management consulting firm that he sold in 2000. He retired and moved back to Hamilton in 2005 and became involved in heritage and neighbourhood issues. He opened Hamilton HIStory + HERitage on James North in 2007, a multi-media exhibition space (aka a storefront museum) celebrating the lives of the men and women who have helped to shape the City of Hamilton.

38 Comments

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 22, 2011 at 22:07:25

Excellent article.

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By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted January 22, 2011 at 22:34:02

Thanks, once again, Graham for a provocative article.

I would rather see funds go to neighbourhood improvement than just to a stadium. We are all now aware that stadiums often have a negligible benefit on the surrounding areas. In that sense, pouring less money into a community size stadium seems the better option. I like the Ti-Cats and all, but the proposed reno of IWS just seems too costly for what we as taxpayers get in return.

The benefits of adding housing in either WH or IWS areas, especially housing for people who have decent incomes, is that it will benefit existing residents who are lower income. First, it will attract retail outlets which are few and far between in both areas at present -- especially grocery stores. Second, the neighbourhood will become more desirable and property values will increase. As long as taxes aren't increased too much and neighbourhoods don't become unaffordable, this is a positive. This is a big caveat, but things seem to move slowly in Hamilton. I am not as worried about the downsides of gentrification in this city -- we can worry about that when we get to it, and as you say keep social inclusion in mind throughout the process.

This post is a roundabout way of saying that I agree with your basic premise!

Comment edited by BeulahAve on 2011-01-22 22:35:52

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2011 at 23:38:29

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Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-22 23:49:56

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By TomRobertson (registered) | Posted January 22, 2011 at 23:52:30

Do you think the ward 2 and 7 councilors will be able to grasp this or continue to wear their cheer leading uniforms at council meetings.

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By mb (registered) | Posted January 22, 2011 at 23:53:45

Good luck to every single citizen in this great city. There's a fork in the road and the path our Councillors select on our behalf will have significant implications well beyond the term of this, and many subsequent, Councils.

Geez, calm down. It's just a parcel of land! No offense, but people on this site act as if the future of Hamilton is strictly dependent on remediation of the Rheem site.

Relax. Whether it gets remediated now or in the future or never, the sun will rise and Hamilton will survive.

Do you think the ward 2 and 7 councilors will be able to grasp this or continue to wear their cheer leading uniforms at council meetings.

Ward 7? Scott Duvall? He's pretty level-headed through all this. I've emailed him many times (I'm a ward 7 constituent), and by no means does he wear black and gold coloured glasses.

Maybe you're thinking of Tom Jackson in Ward 6?

Comment edited by mb on 2011-01-22 23:56:55

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 22, 2011 at 23:56:49

Hammy - wtf? The author makes a coherent point. His argument is the return on the investment of the FF which looks like it will be spent in WH or IW.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 00:04:53

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Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-23 00:06:12

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 00:06:29

Well stated, Graham.

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By George (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 00:07:19

It's about seizing the rare opportunity of getting tens of millions of federal and provincial dollars. It must not be squandered.

As a Tiger-Cat fan, and Hamiltonian, I think the WH is the single best place for a stadium because the TV exposure this city gets through TSN's coverage of Tiger-Cat games is by far the best way to promote and rehabilitate the city's image nationally as well as locally.

Most of Canada recognizes Hamilton through steel factories and the Tiger-Cats. Nothing wrong with that, that's fine.

But we are more than that, and showcasing our "new" and improving WH, the crown jewel of our city, is the best way to sell us to the rest of the country and the world.

Plus, having hundreds of thousands of annual visits to downtown and WH, by out of towners, and Hamiltonians who don't otherwise venture downtown anymore, will go a long way to further strengthening our slowly recovering core.

A strong core is essential to any city.

Would any such investment at IWS come even close to doing any of this? Not a chance.

If the Tiger-Cats are ok with IWS, then WH is fine too.

What is best for Hamilton?

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 00:13:31

hammy, no matter which way you slice it, it's about the money. Where that money lands is the debate.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 00:14:53

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2011 at 01:13:41

Finally! Who knew that the Hamster is really an anti-capitalist, radical environmentalist!! Hammy, it's time you wrote your Councillor and let him/her know that you don't want greedy business men to benefit from your tax dollars. Good for you.

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By DanJelly (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 01:13:58

The WH theme should be about parkland

Because we really need a park to overlook those 3 other parks. I'm as big a proponent of urban green space as anyone, but the West Harbour has plenty already.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 01:43:24

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Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-23 02:01:13

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2011 at 02:27:17

Graham, your article illuminates an often over-looked aspect of this whole stadium issue. Catalytic investment is the seed that creates a cascade of investment in an area. We are starting to see forward-thinking owner/developers buying and repurposing derelict properties all over the lower city (as many people have pointed out here). I watched this happen on Locke street from 1990 onward (both as a resident and business owner) as brave first investors began to discover the area. In the case of WH the bold move has to be made by the city (both the administration and us, the collective) as remediation is is generally out of reach of private business. Toxicity is a long-term impediment to private investment in some Hamilton neighbourhoods.

Oh, Hammy? Graham lives and owns a business in Hamilton. Please read before you post.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2011 at 08:20:23

One of them being the water front along the bay. It should have never been developed into the industrial nightmare we see today.

I loves me some divergent opinions. The contrarian in me appreciates a completely different view, especially when it's presented cogently. (When it's done so elegantly, I've been known to swoon.)

However...

However, just as Ryan et al have no time for trolls, I have no time for people who see the past as their personal opportunity to rant about alternate realities. Which, for the record, I happen to love the notion of. But as much as I can wax poetical about variant time-lines, I'm not so dull-pated as to forget that this is the reality we have to deal with, that the present we have before us was crafted by its past. Cause-and-effect, donchaknow.

Just as crabby comments about 'mistakes' regarding Hamilton's core in the 60s rankle me to no end in this regard (ignoring just about everything that was going on at the time), hammy's comment- Well, it takes the cake.

So, hammy, seeing as you're so damning of what allowed Hamilton to become Hamilton, a request: Why don't you write an article for Editor Ryan about how Hamilton should have been developed from the end of the 19th century on? Give us your alternate time-line history of the city. Show us your design. Essentially, be 'God' and show us the errors of the ways of those who, in a clear and definable sense, made it possible for you to be commenting on this site more than a hundred years later.

Let's see you put your money where your mouth is for a change. I for one, can't wait.

(Oh, and a big shout-out to The Restraint Gods for me not choosing to launch into a diatribe defending our industrial past. Especially considering my father worked for International Harvester and my mom worked for Stelco.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-01-23 08:21:49

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By ImproveTheHammer (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:24:50

This article distills (for me) why we've had such trouble finding a site.

The main funding for a stadium breaks down as follows: $70 million from the federal and provincial government, $45 million from the future fund.

The future fund is supposed to grow Hamilton's economic base, enhance Hamilton's social fabric and enhance community life. The Fed/Provincial contribution is supposed to build a stadium suitable as a Pan Am games soccer venue with a high performance sports legacy.

Proponents of IWS are concentrating primarily on the stadium as a sports legacy. It fixes a decaying building with a new one with a tenant committed to spending 20 years there.

Proponents of WH are concentrating primarily on the future fund goals. It promises to take a derelict area and turn it into an area of high profile development.

But there are also shades of grey. It can be argued that a re-vamped IWS touches some of the future fund goals. Giving IWS a new lease on life could trigger development of the area -- particularly restaurants and bars. And hosting a Grey Cup or two would have significant impact on Hamilton (positively ;))

It also can be argued that a stadium at WH could have a lasting legacy. Although the Ticats have said they won't play there, many of us don't believe them. And perhaps we could recruit a pro soccer team. And having a new sports stadium would be very positive for the existing amateur sports teams.

And that leaves us where we are today.

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By Liveourfuture (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:31:55

That’s it!!!!!!

I was starting to settle into the idea of a renovated Ivor Wynne as a compromise just to end this whole fiasco, but after some of the recent insightful articles on Raise the Hammer and the Spectator, I’m more convinced than ever that this would be a giant missed opportunity for Hamilton. I'm really tired of talking and talking and talking about this city’s potential and letting petty egos with little to no stake in this city, hold us back. Let’s get on with it…it’s our bloody money for heaven’s sake!

There is still an exciting vision for the Pan Am games at the West Harbour that was supported by so many people for really good reasons. Let’s decide to actually realize this vision and in 2015 we will unveil a different Hamilton to the world. Tell council to get this done!

Bob.Bratina@hamilton.ca,Brian.McHattie@hamilton.ca,Jason.Farr@hamilton.ca,Bernie.Morelli@hamilton.ca,Sam.Merulla@hamilton.ca,Chad.Collins@hamilton.ca,Tom.Jackson@hamilton.ca,Scott.Duvall@hamilton.ca,Terry.Whitehead@hamilton.ca,Brad.Clark@hamilton.ca,Maria.Pearson@hamilton.ca,Brenda.Johnson@hamilton.ca,Lloyd.Ferguson@hamilton.ca,Russ.Powers@hamilton.ca,Robert.Pasuta@hamilton.ca,Judi.Partridge@hamilton.ca

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:36:06

I loves me some divergent opinions. The contrarian in me appreciates a completely different view, especially when it's presented cogently. (When it's done so elegantly, I've been known to swoon.)

However...

I swooned a bit when I read your entire post. Hammy exposed once again. Can we stop feeding him now? Even Allan thinks he's a goof!

Comment edited by transitstudent on 2011-01-23 10:36:14

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By George (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:40:09

Liveourfuture wrote:

That’s it!!!!!!

I was starting to settle into the idea of a renovated Ivor Wynne as a compromise just to end this whole fiasco, but after some of the recent insightful articles on Raise the Hammer and the Spectator, I’m more convinced than ever that this would be a giant missed opportunity for Hamilton. I'm really tired of talking and talking and talking about this city’s potential and letting petty egos with little to no stake in this city, hold us back. Let’s get on with it…it’s our bloody money for heaven’s sake!

Me too. Although IWS2 is better than Confederation Park, East Mountain, Burlington, etc, it still is not good enough.

Let's not settle.

We, the city of Hamilton, have a tremendous opportunity to make a big splash with a WH stadium and LRT. These, without a doubt, will be transformational, and deserve every effort to succeed. Time to follow through on a vision Hamilton!

The world and our industrial based economy has changed a long time ago. We must transform! The status quo is no longer acceptable. The ever changing world will continue to leave us behind, if we do not act progressively and assertively.

Comment edited by George on 2011-01-23 11:23:30

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By Spec (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:40:24

Hey - Check out the comments on the Spectator site below the Scott Mitchell article - Look's like the article backfired...

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:42:45

Graham,

The introduction to your piece could double as a very elegant argument for the benefits of Rapid Transit (said he who has transit in his nickname, note the bias)

Overall a great piece of visioning blended with some hard realities.

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By Yikes (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:43:59

The article in the Spec didn't backfire. It is exactly what the Spec is hoping for, a backlash against the Ticats at the eleventh hour. Mitchell was stupid for agreeing to be interviewed, but it's not as if he is saying anything different from what he's said before, to wit: my job is to make sure we have a winning and financialy responsible possibility for the Ticats in a new stadium. However, when he makes comments falling into the Ticats trap of winners vs losers, he looks the fool.

And that is what the Spec wanted all along.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 10:59:37

So when do council see the plans and how long do they have before voting?

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 11:07:34

.The most relevant comment by armchair from the Drew Edwards interview with Scott Mitchell:

One thing for sure, the RTH and WH tree huggers continue to explore something that will never happen.

You can see IT here

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-01-23 11:12:20

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By rayfullerton (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 11:40:05

GIC Jan 24 1:00 pm 7.1 Staff Presentation " International Event Opportunities/2015 Pan Am Games Update (CM09006 (l)) City Wide will be available prior to the meeting at the Council chambers.

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 11:43:54

There we go again with some nonsense above. I bet Mr Crawford feels pretty burnt by Hammys stinging observations. Ok, ok all of the above numbers check out and all, but yeah that carpetbagger Graham Crawford and his buddies at the Toronto Club are just looking to profit on our backs. I'll bet his big corporate headquarters is located inside the Rheem Plant and they are just dying to absorb all the prime abandoned industrial land for the greedy takeover.

Give us all a break!

This guy and the "movement" is called urban renewal that will intensify the city 24 hours a day with a vast diversity of people.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 12:22:16

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2011 at 17:18:14

Just as crabby comments about 'mistakes' regarding Hamilton's core in the 60s rankle me to no end in this regard (ignoring just about everything that was going on at the time), hammy's comment- Well, it takes the cake.

As a rule, I generally disagree with Hammy, but as someone who's been following the history of our harbour for years now, he's got a point. Hamilton Harbour has seen a lot of policy choices in the last century which created the "industrial nightmare" image. Infilling a third of the bay, paving over the inlets and dumping toxic waste directly into the lake (Randle Reef being the best example) have all contributed to this view of the area, and in hindsight, it's pretty clear that the choices made have been fairly questionable. And the same could be said for downtown - with projects like Civic Square and the York Blvd highwayfication clearing out the homes, small businesses and historic buildings.

I'm not saying Hamilton would be perfect now if we hadn't done these things, but I doubt people would back these ideas again.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2011 at 18:19:31

I'm not saying Hamilton would be perfect now if we hadn't done these things, but I doubt people would back these ideas again.

Good Lord.

Thanks for absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt reinforcing precisely what I was getting at.

You 'doubt that people would back these ideas again'? How marvellous for you to sit and judge retrospectively. You have to be of a certain generation to say something like this. It displays a real disconnect with history, a definite hubris, and a clear lack of social perspective. If what you're saying wasn't so utterly ridiculous, given the tenor of this site (that is, a serious approach to finding solutions to what ails us, not one fueled by fantasy revisionism) I'd throw in 'sanctimonious'.

Seriously; if you're going to comment about something so basic as local history, as much as you might grieve for some of the decisions that were made at the time, you could at least honour those who came before us by respecting the context within which those lives were lived. With the kind of comment you've proffered, you've done an enormous disservice to much that industrial Hamilton was founded on.

(It almost makes me curious to know what else over the past 5,000 years you'd like to have seen done differently. Almost.)

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 18:47:11

mystoneycreek,

I'd throw in 'sanctimonious'.

Sanctimonious:Internet definitions

-trying to appear full of holiness or goodness

-Feigning piety or righteousness

-affecting piety or making a display of holiness

-excessively or hypocritically pious

-too good to be true, self-righteous, self-satisfied

-Making a show of being morally better than others, especially hypocritically pious

I'd say that you and you alone own this word on RTH mystoneycreek.

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By Shawn Selway (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 19:23:24

This is an extremely thoughtful and informative piece, but I am not sure about a couple of Graham's premises.

I believe that White Star Group is presently preparing a site plan for a two-tower development similar to his hypothetical case. Their holding is the former auto wrecking yard on the west side of Bay between Stewart and Barton. I am not aware that they are seeking any public funds as the price of their catalyzing development in the area.

My second reservation has to do with the condition of the soils in Barton Tiffany and the costs of remediation. This is a large area, with varying levels of contamination, which have varying implications for clean-up costs, depending on the ultimate use and owner. I am not aware of any publicly accessible comprehensive assessment of those costs. In my opinion, someone needs to produce such an assessment, at least to the level of detail with which Graham has treated the fiscal questions of residential development.

The best thing I have seen so far is the 6 page appendix prepared by Decommissioning Consultants for the document that compared the East Mountain and West Harbour sites for stadium worthiness. This sets out the considerations, but provides no details about what contaminants are where.

This question is important not just for this site and these Pan Am issues, but for the entire project of intensification vs sprawl in Hamilton. If the Realtors are going to call all post industrial sites toxic and unusable without subsidy, then we are looking at a lot of subsidy in the Old City to avoid continuing subsidy to the New.(In the form of road maintenance, public transit diffusion etc.) We will be very much wanting to test the claim for subsidy against the detailed facts in the ground -- especially since we will almost certainly have to provide subsidy in any case to get a healthy mix of affordable and market value housing.


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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 21:07:31

Well, well, well. Curiousier and curiouser....http://www.thespec.com/news/crime/article/477132--stadium-stumble

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By Really (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 21:29:13

That's the same funding gap for a brand new full size stadium at West Harbour -- WH could even be less when you factor in the costs cited in the previous reports. Build WH now!!!!!

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By Funnythat (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 21:54:46

Well this could explain why Mayor Bob is going out of town tomorrow.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted January 23, 2011 at 21:56:59

Did anyone notice that the Spec article is in the crime section. Considering all the nonsense that has gone on over this issue it seems appropriate.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2011 at 22:21:10

Mystoneycreek, your argument really makes no sense. In fact, it isn't an argument at all. You accuse me of ignoring context and yet you provide none. You accuse me of revisionism but provide no details. You're throwing around a lot of vitriol, but little else.

The term "revisionism", in my experience, is one which is used nearly exclusively by those who seek to protect their treasured historical mythologies from nasty things like "facts" and "evidence". The decisions made at the time may have been the result of "context", but so is every other decision, good or bad, made today. These decisions were not made by "Hamilton" - only those in charge - like today they were made by small groups of people, and many were opposed.

Learn from the past or be doomed to repeat it. Isn't that the point of studying history?

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By bobinnes (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2011 at 22:11:02

Interesting numbers Graham, food for thought. I wondered at a few such as $3000 taxes (1% seems low), $325k price (seems high if rail yards in view???) and would be grateful for any insight. Overall, I was interested to see how developers scope out the opportunity to find what looks like a $21.4 million profit (before land, remediation).

Remediation is the huge variable. I wonder if there is any way to marry capping to the development described? Example would be Toronto Hydro's office on Commissioners Street which capped the land and put the building on stilts so there is an air separation (parking lot) to prevent gassy problems.

What the article does not do is to persuade me to support a stadium in any location. If condo/commercial makes sense then we should use some of the Future Fund to remediate for the three projects Graham envisions. I believe the future will then take care of itself.

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