Special Report: Education

To My Educators: Let's Add Without Subtracting

Why can't we build over a parking lot rather than knock down another building? It's not too late: get involved.

By Matt Jelly
Published February 07, 2012

In the early 1960s, the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board was considering locating its headquarters in Westdale, rather than downtown. In 1964, the City donated the land at 100 Main Street West as a way to convince the School Board to remain downtown.

A new headquarters was built at 100 Main Street West in 1966. 100 Main Street West was designed by architect Joe Singer, who also designed Crestwood School on Hamilton Mountain.

For 45 years, the building at 100 Main Street West served as the headquarters of the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

Now the Board wants to leave downtown, demolish both 100 Main Street West and Crestwood School, and build a $31 million headquarters a block away from Limeridge Mall.

Seven acres of green space will become 480 parking spots.

100 Main Street West will be sold to McMaster University. McMaster wants the building demolished.

We've torn down:

and many more.

The City is paying $47 million for McMaster's development: $10 million from the Future Fund, $10 million from city coffers, and $27 million in a 30-year above-market lease - and the City will leave the Right House without a tenant.

Let's add without subtracting.

The property at 100 Main Street West has ample room for new development, but McMaster wants to demolish the building instead of developing the parking lot beside it.

McMaster University has done a great job protecting its own buildings. If the public is payind $47 million for McMaster's development, why can't McMaster develop without destroying a civic landmark?

Why can't we build over a parking lot rather than knock down another building?

It's not too late. Get involved.

Rather than lose two buildings and nine acres of green space; rather than pay for land twice; rather than move our School Board far away from our Code Red neighbourhoods.

Our educators taught us better than that.

Save The Board Of Education:

Contact List:

tim.simmons@hwdsb.on.ca, robert.barlow@hwdsb.on.ca, studenttrustee@hwdsb.on.ca, judith.bishop@hwdsb.on.ca, ray.mulholland@hwdsb.on.ca, todd.white@hwdsb.on.ca, laura.peddle@hwdsb.on.ca, lillian.orban@hwdsb.on.ca, wes.hicks@hwdsb.on.ca, alex.johnstone@hwdsb.on.ca, jessica.brennan@hwdsb.on.ca, karen.turkstra@hwdsb.on.ca, dlcouncil@hamilton.ca, lbroten.mpp@liberal.ola.org, ahorwath-co@ndp.on.ca, presdnt@mcmaster.ca, mattjelly@gmail.com

Jelly is a local artist, graphic designer and map maker living in Downtown Hamilton, Ontario in the Central Neighbourhood. Matt is an advocate for built heritage, toxic waste eradication and the revitalization of downtown Hamilton. www.mattjelly.com

99 Comments

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 07:28:53

Nice one, Matt. I admire your work and you seem like a decent guy, too.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 07:35:48

Matt, no matter how many times you rewrite the same thing (let's save the BoE building) it's still too late, in my opinion. I admire your desire to keep the building intact and keep them downtown though.

Where was all of this energy when all of this was being decided?

I'm also a bit confused as to why you list all the buildings on that list that were demolished. Some on that list are due to fires, neglect or owner's desire to use the location for something else. Not everything can and should be saved. If all we do is keep our old buildings, how will we ever grow? We need a mix of old an new, modern and classic.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 08:54:12 in reply to Comment 73772

We need a mix of old an new, modern and classic.

Bingo. Once the BofE is gone, it's never coming back.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 07:09:31 in reply to Comment 73783

That's fine with me. I don't find the building visually appealing and it's not a heritage building. It's not even 50 years old!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 09:31:46 in reply to Comment 73928

This is exactly what they thought when they tore down the original city hall. It's not all about age.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 21:44:31 in reply to Comment 73957

...but when they tore that down it was more than 50 years old. As well, what condition was it in, inside and out? I honestly don't know the answer to that one since it was long gone by the time I was born.

Further to that, was the City using heritage designations when the old city hall came down? Again, I plead ignorance on that one.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 07:41:08 in reply to Comment 73928

I would respectfully argue that we are not the best people to decide whether the building has architectural value worth preserving.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 07:54:45 in reply to Comment 73933

Then let's keep every building that is erected. That way the future gens will thank us, amirite? They can tear 'em down if they want or sink millions into continually re-adapting them.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 10:20:45 in reply to Comment 73936

Then let's keep every building that is erected.

Let's stop poking strawmen. Not every building is architecturally significant. Not every building was constructed to high standards of quality. Not every building is structurally sound. Not every building is a good candidate for adaptive reuse.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 21:45:28 in reply to Comment 73965

Thanks for making my point. What could you use that building for, aside from it's current incarnation?

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2012 at 10:47:33 in reply to Comment 73783

That's it exactly. Every other point in this deal is negotiable, but once that building is gone, we can't change our collective mind and wish it back again. Serious, serious consideration should be taken before we destroy anything. Especially when there is no good reason to demolish it. None at all.

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By cb radio (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 08:11:22 in reply to Comment 73772

I didn't realize we'd turned the squelch up so high in here

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 08:23:15 in reply to Comment 73775

Sorry. Didn't realize that we weren't allowed to voice our opinions if it goes against the author. Duly noted.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2012 at 09:23:35 in reply to Comment 73776

When you say that it's "too late" (implying we should just all accept the predetermined outcome) is a little squelchey... I don't think anyone is saying you can't have a different opinion.

If your opinion is that the BoE should move, then express it and give the reasons, I'm sure many would like to hear them (and likely disagree right back at ya ;-).

But if your opinion is that the BoE should not move but that it's too late to do anything about it - well that's not really an opinion against the author. That's giving up. Which is the well practised move of classic Hamilton squelchers :-)

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 07:13:00 in reply to Comment 73788

My opinion is that the BoE should stay in the core but I don't really care where. If they want to move, that's their business. If they want to sell the land however, I really disagree with that since the land was given to them (like someone mentioned on another thread) like the land for Dundas District was given to the Board in perpetuity as long as it's used for educational purposes, they really have no right to make a cent from it's sale.

But my comment was more aimed at the last-minute push that Mr. Jelly is making to keep them where they are when it looks like it's already been decided. He has made mention of being at many other meetings regarding the BoE moving but yet it has only become a major talking point in the past month or so.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 09:33:58 in reply to Comment 73929

Their business is our business as it is we who will be footing the bill. But they treated it like their business and kept it out of the public sight.

It's almost as if they wanted to wait until it was "too late" before going public with the details of their plan... hmm....

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 09, 2012 at 07:12:08 in reply to Comment 73958

You're right. Their business is our business. However, unless you are an educator or administrator with the BoE, you probably don't know what they need and what they want.

Hypothesize with me for a minute. This is a building built in the early 1960s, with much different standards then than now. Then: Lower standard wiring, glass, insulation, no personal computers. Now: LEED-certified buildings, computers abound, more efficient use of space.

So, let's say that the building is structurally sound, which I'm sure it is, but everything else needs to go. So, they start looking. As posted above I would really like to know what buildings they shortlisted downtown and how they failed to stack up with their objectives.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 09, 2012 at 09:27:44 in reply to Comment 74061

By this metric, we should tear down every office building that was erected before Windows 3.1 was released. We should probably also tear down all the homes that were built with knob and tube wiring (or no electricity at all) because we certainly can't update that without building a brand new house!

Power outlets and insulation are red herrings. What they want is easy car access and lots of parking as close to the front door as possible. They should just admit that this is their driving priority and go get jobs at limeridge mall.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 09, 2012 at 21:10:40 in reply to Comment 74071

Prove it then. Until they open up as to what the downtown sites lacked that the Mountain location had, you can't just base it on parking alone.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 08:25:09

The West Harbour Stadium got scuppered at the last minute, after having been approved something like 8 times. Why not this horrible deal?

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2012 at 08:47:34

Matt - thanks for this. Also, thanks for the photo albums you just published of parts of the interior of the building.

As for it being too late, the Lister Block was to be demolished and a vertically stretched version of it was to appear on its footprint. The Mayor at the time and the head of LIUNA held a media conference unveiling the drawing and the plan. It didn't happen because of people like Matt Jelly.

I have to admit that this is past the 11th hour, but I don't find this a wasteful effort. This fight began several years ago when the Board debated whether or not to stay in the building. Many of us wrote to Trustees, signed on-line petitions and went to HWDSB meetings, either as observers or presenters. At that time, the Board decided to continue investigating staying in the building. Stupidly, perhaps, I thought we had moved past demolition. I was very wrong.

The level of secrecy around the cost of renovation, as well as which alternative sites were considered has made the fight to save the building, and the Board's presence downtown, all that more difficult.

For me, this isn't about saving all old buildings. But it is about saving this one. They are not all the same. They are not all worthy of restoration. But it seems to me we don't have any articulated guiding principles about our heritage, or even our future for that matter. As a result, we grab hold of the latest shiny option. There's nothing shiny about this deal. At least not from my perspective.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 17:48:42 in reply to Comment 73779

"The Mayor at the time" Was that Eisenberger? If so, why can't that mayor be named?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 18:06:02 in reply to Comment 73891

It was DiIanni.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 18:28:13 in reply to Comment 73894

Thanks, but why can't we name him? Just curious and confused by the "mayor at the time" reference.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 20:03:44 in reply to Comment 73896

I'm sure it was just an innocuous statement intended to keep the focus on the issue and not on personalities.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2012 at 20:26:36 in reply to Comment 73902

That it was. Nothing more.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 09:02:32

Keeping adding voices and taps to the rock…just like my tagline says.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 09:36:42

it's not too late because they haven't met the conditions of the deal yet. But more importantly it's not too late to let these officials know, and hopefully at the ballot box, the results of these actions. There are parking lots on all sides. Why does Hamilton always have to take a great story and turn it into a farce? Because we are too easily beaten by negotiation tactics. We are no match for lobbyists and lawyers. I'm sure Mac was perfectly willing to build on a lot downtown, but some clever negotiator following the Bob Young playbook threatened to build in Burlington, and voila.

The title of this post is perfect by the way. How is it we are constantly faced with Faustian bargains? West Harbour or East Mountain. Go or LRT. Downtown Health Campus or BoE building. These are false oppositions! They are dreamed up as a ploy to get our hapless decision-makers to accept the other side's preferred option.

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By randomguy (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 11:08:30

Is there any way to go to the OMB about the Crestwood site? I don't know much about OMB appeals, but bollocksing up the board's plans to build there would give me a lot of satisfaction and maybe force the board to stay downtown if faced with a longer waiting period for the Crestwood site. Maybe even long enough to vote out some of these trustees.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 23:28:40 in reply to Comment 73808

you would think the OMB should be an option. Heck, people in Hamilton use it all the time to prevent empty, derelict buildings from being converted into profitable coffee-houses with patios or wine bars. Surely we could round up enough people to take something significant like this to the OMB.

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By JM (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 11:57:41 in reply to Comment 73808

Only if they require a change in land use... (Zoning/Official Plan). A decision on Site Plan Approval can only be appealed by the applicant i`m pretty sure.

You can also appeal a decision by the Committee of Adjustment if they require any minor variances - but that will only be an appeal to the variance itself, not the whole development

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 11:36:02

I have to agree with you Matt. Dt is slowly turning the corner and it is time that the tearing down tide is stopped.

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 12:08:56

My letter: To decision-makers re: the future of the Hamilton BoE building,

It is usually better to adapt and re-use the architectural heritage that we have been given. It represents our history, provides visually interesting streetscapes and, of course, avoids huge capital costs. Hamilton is gifted with wonderfully intact streetscapes that give this city real character and it is wonderful to watch interesting buildings slowly come back to life through the hard work of many residents of this city. Witness the excitement that the restoration of the Lister Block has brought – it is being seen as a symbol of the resurrection of Hamilton’s downtown core. My husband and I have personally renovated a century-old brick building in Hamilton’s North End – painting the original trim, repointing each and every brick by hand, redoing the foundation. Its now lovely, energy-efficient, and sound.

I have seen photos of the Board of Education building interior. There is much beauty and character there. There is greenspace around the building. I do not understand or support the plan to tear down this lovely historical building that was gifted to the Board of Education by the taxpayers of Hamilton. I do not understand why we would want the Board to move out of Hamilton’s downtown core, the heart of this city, to a distant suburb. What about the large numbers of lower income Hamilton families and their access to BoE resources? Also what about the state of disrepair of so many of Hamilton’s downtown schools? I recently visited Benetto as I need to register my little one for pre-kindergarten – and was shocked to see how dark, dingy and uninviting this school is. So why are we proposing to build a shiny new building for Board of Education employees while many of the city’s children spend their days in sub-standard buildings?

As a taxpayer and a mother who has chosen to live in Hamilton’s downtown, I do not support moving essential government services out of our downtown core. I do support a creative solution that will allow both the Board of Education and McMaster to occupy the downtown location. I understand that there are already footings in place for expansion of the BoE building – I support exploring this option further, and commend my councillor, Jason Farr, for bringing this matter to the attention of the residents of Hamilton.

I ask you to reconsider the options for the BoE building and come up with a creative solution that will inspire this city.

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By TDR (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2012 at 22:48:23 in reply to Comment 73822

Bravo

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 14:54:23

What really burns about this is that the school board is allowed to sell for profit what was given to them from the city of Hamilton. It makes it absolutely perverse that they are allowed to do this in order to leave downtown when the purpose of the gift was to keep them downtown. Are there no legal avenues for the City to prevent the sale of the land, or to be entitled to the profits? Would there not have been a clause in the original sale agreement to protect the city's interests?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 17:53:50 in reply to Comment 73848

I'm in agreement, 100%

Unfortunately, it happens all the time. Scott Park was in The Spec recently and they sold it to someone with no plans and the current owner is hoping the City buys it back at a very handsome profit as part of Pan Am plans...

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 16:33:47 in reply to Comment 73848

The worst part is I'm fairly certain there are rules legally prohibiting the Board from selling the property for less than market value, making it impossible for the school board to "give it back to the city".

I wonder if an alternative could have been thought up at the time of the land grand (i.e. a non-transferable lease of $1 a year, renewable at the school board's option for up to 100 years. That way the land would eventually revert to the city (or a new agreement could be put in place before the 100 years was up). 100 years would have been more than enough time for the board to enjoy their return on any investment in a building on the site.

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By Sometimes (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 15:04:49

"They are dreamed up as a ploy to get our hapless decision-makers to accept the other side's preferred option."

That is one of the problems, rather than an us vs them attitude which this city seems to thrive on, there needs to be more of a cooperative attitude where all people involved in a decision work together and are truly team members. It's a shame really.

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By Too Late (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 16:23:38

Where was all this passion years ago when the process started???
It's a lot harder to influence a "done" deal than one in its early stages.
Can we please identify the next five battles and get started on them now before we're fighting rearguard actions again. All this energy could be so much better spent.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2012 at 16:45:30 in reply to Comment 73862

Can we please identify the next five battles and get started on them now before we're fighting rearguard actions again.

Well, contrary to Robert D's opinion, I'd say that the West Harbour issue isn't one of the 'next five battles'; that seems a fait accompli.

However, here's the biggest one: AEGD ('Aerotropolis'). And if you go to the Hamilton Civic League's site, you can discover more about the fight.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2012-02-07 16:47:15

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By Nony Amous (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 16:42:48 in reply to Comment 73862

The Board of Ed has not acted with full transparency and in good faith. Even their own Trustees weren't aware that the land sale was virtually a done deal as recently as last Monday's special meeting.

Trustee Peddle moved to allow the Board of Trustees final approval of the sale and staff sheepishly pointed out that it was too late to turn back without risking legal action by Mac. The motion was defeated, but it was very telling that TRUSTEES on both sides of the issue, who have been involved in the process since day 1, were debating a motion that was essentially moot.

How are engaged citizens supposed to know when to start protesting when our representatives, the Trustees themselves, have been left in the dark?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 16:35:27 in reply to Comment 73862

No harm in doing both. You go research the "next five battles" while Matt fights this rearguard action.

I'm sure when you post your article in RTH about the "upcoming" battles, we'll react as favourably to your suggestion as we are to Matt's.

Incidentally, please consider the West Harbour "Setting Sail" settlement with CP as potentially one of the upcoming battles. Thanks.

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By don't know (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 18:00:19

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 18:29:43 in reply to Comment 73893

Thanks. Got the same answer above as well. Just curious why he wasn't named.

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 18:33:53

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2012 at 22:31:09 in reply to Comment 73898

Ever been inside? I took a look around when I was there last night. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=...

You're entitled to your opinion. :)

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted February 11, 2012 at 14:03:56 in reply to Comment 73911

Hmm, I think you may like dropped ceilings and fluorescent lights more than I do Matt :)

But the "bones" are nice I suppose.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2012-02-11 14:04:09

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 23:26:21 in reply to Comment 73911

Wow! Beautiful. Imagine the uses for this place with some upgrading? It's a great structure inside and out.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2012 at 22:40:15 in reply to Comment 73911

Looks amazing... Maybe we can sell this building to Mad Men and they can move Sterling Cooper in there.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 19:03:37

^This confuses me. I think the Board of Ed is a modern building. It would be like tearing down an A&W to build an A&W, if that A&W needed 400 parking spaces and 50 million city tax dollars.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 20:31:48

I think whether it is ugly or tasteful is moot and isn't really the issue here anyway. It's more about tearing down something, anything, when it's completely un-necessary and wasteful.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 07:20:14 in reply to Comment 73906

I disagree. Not every building can and must be adapted for reuse. Pehaps we can look at it this way: is it the most efficient use of the space? Could it be made better with a newer facility there? Would tearing down what's there and replacing it with a more efficient design (that includes space, modern technology and materials) be a better choice?

I also disagree on whether a building is visually appealing or not is a part of design. That building sticks out like a sore thumb on that block and I don't think in a good way.

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted February 07, 2012 at 20:41:52

Here's what Laura Peddle said in response to my letter:

Zephyr, keep going ! what all of you are doing is Amazing!

I voted against the move to crestwood.

I remain against it today.

Indeed I boycotted last evenings incamera mtg on this topic that shld be discussed, for the most part, in public - not behind closed doors

Laura

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 07:42:09

I'll admit I'm of more than one mind on this subject. And as conflation is a primary pet peeve of mine, especially when it comes to 'things-Hamiltonian', I'm finding myself wanting to regard each element carefully. And each time I do, every time I go through the process of 're-consideration', I do find the result varies.

I'm absolutely sympathetic to what Matt's proposing, and am grateful for the time and energies expended on even this portion of the 'project'.

I'm a little more pissed-off at the background stuff, especially as the theme of an upcoming Spec commentary ('The 8-Ball and The Curve: Why Are We Always Behind One or The Other?') is present in other situations in the city that have either already unfolded or are still in the process of doing so. But that's me, and I fully recognize and accept that my priorities are different than others'.

Having said that, and having no control over how this particular situation is going to end, I would say that it's dangerous to take everything listed above, lump them all together and go to town on conflation.

(And no, the following has nothing to do with the exigencies of the BOE situation. Something deserving of a town hall, at the very least.)

There's a belief within the counselling community that the degree of regret with which you looks back on your life is directly related to where you are today. So if you're particularly dissatisfied or disenchanted, you're probably going to be inclined to season your remembrances with more than a little regret. And of course, the obverse is true; if you're content, genuinely happy, then you're probably not going to sprinkle much regret on your memories. You'll shrug and say 'No worries! Life's good right now!'

The same applies to how we regard buildings we've 'lost'. I bet that if we'd managed to construct, over the past half-century, a vibrant downtown, a core that draws people, a city-centre that appealed and had an number of great draws equal to our 'losses', then this discussion would look entirely different.

We are, make no mistake about it, dissatisfied with what we have before us in the downtown. And as I've blogged about previously, when you're frustrated, when you're feeling even slightly 'desperate' about things, then how you process circumstances tends to be seasoned accordingly.

I offer no solutions here, not on this occasion, save to suggest that as part of a healthy discussion, we need to be able to acknowledge our true objectivity. Or at the least, concede our frailties. Because I'm not sure a flawed entrenchment ever accomplishes much.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 09:22:33

Is it just me, or is it always "too late" to change things by the time an issue has entered the realm of public discussion?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 09:51:28 in reply to Comment 73952

This is the real problem. It's easy to blame the public for not being more involved, but opportunities for involvement are severely curtailed as a matter of course, and until a decision (usually a bad one) is made, there is little to do other than go to meetings and provide feedback.

Consider what HWDSB Trustee Judith Bishop wrote:

There were community consultations and the Board heard clearly that staying in the downtown core was seen as important.

What was important to the Board, on the other hand, was a site with more than one parking spot for each employee, and that institutional priority prevailed over what the community wanted.

The problem is not that citizens are not trying to be engaged. The problem is that our institutional leaders summarily ignore citizen engagement when making their decisions, and can only be persuaded to change their minds in the face of a large public outcry they cannot ignore.

It's similarly unfair to those people now engaging in heroic last-ditch efforts to forestall a bad decision made behind closed doors (and based on site considerations that have still not been made public) to suggest that they left things too late or they're doing it wrong.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-02-08 09:54:01

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 13:14:15 in reply to Comment 73960

The problem is not that citizens are not trying to be engaged. The problem is that our institutional leaders summarily ignore citizen engagement when making their decisions, and can only be persuaded to change their minds in the face of a large public outcry they cannot ignore.

Tomorrow's Spec will be carrying that aforementioned '8-ball' piece, and I'm hoping that it might add to the groundswell that needs to be created towards changing how things are done when it's our money at play.

It's similarly unfair to those people now engaging in heroic last-ditch efforts to forestall a bad decision made behind closed doors (and based on site considerations that have still not been made public) to suggest that they left things too late or they're doing it wrong.

I agree entirely. At the same time, I long for better context and perspective in the mix.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 09:29:07 in reply to Comment 73952

It's easier to "get things done" if the big decisions are taken care of in private meetings first.

The public is then free to voice opinions on the species of tree used to landscape the parking lot (if we're lucky)

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 13:16:45 in reply to Comment 73956

It's easier to "get things done" if the big decisions are taken care of in private meetings first.

Absolutely true. In fact, though nobody would admit to it on any level, nobody in power really 'wants' public consultation or engagement. It 'gums up the system', making it harder to push their pet initiatives through to fruition.

In fact, where our local governance is concerned, I'd go so far as to say that our elected representatives privately mutter 'Just leave us alone so we can get our jobs done...as we see fit.'

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2012-02-08 13:39:03

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 14:47:27 in reply to Comment 73994

To play devil's advocate for a moment - have you gone to a public consultation meeting? The things are practically designed to breed disdain for the public. The officials who manage those things have the patience of saints.

You have to see it from their perspective - any public consultation is going to have the signal-to-noise ratio of your average XBox Live voicechat, albeit with somewhat cleaner language. Fringe viewpoints get just as much airtime as mainstream ones, and there are a lot of fringes out there, and they're usually the loudest people in the room.

I'm not saying public consultation is wrong and that ignoring the public is the right way to go about it... just that any public consultation process subjects the officials to a screaming din of pure nonsense.

Public consultation is hard to do well. Very hard. I'm not saying they shouldn't do it. Absolutely, the government works for the public and should consult with the public. Just that you shouldn't assume malice. I'm sure everyone who comes into government has every intent of being a strong representative of the public... and then quickly finds out that they can't really consult with John Q public. They can consult with the self-appointed champions of John Q public. The actual public just wants you to go away and stop phoning during dinner, and doesn't really follow the issues closely enough to have a good understanding of the situation anyways.

The vocal urbanists like us? We don't sound too different from the NIMBYs, the conservatives, and the outright crazy people they have to deal with.

So yeah, I'm not surprised in the least that their public consultation process has been a joke. Making it work is hard, while making it a glorified press conference where they present their solution and then absorb the rotten tomatoes is easy.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 16:53:20 in reply to Comment 74006

I'm sure everyone who comes into government has every intent of being a strong representative of the public... and then quickly finds out that they can't really consult with John Q public. They can consult with the self-appointed champions of John Q public. The actual public just wants you to go away and stop phoning during dinner

This should be on the first pages of a community organizing manual.

What does make "us" (is there an "us"?) different from the NIMBYs, conservatives or wingnuts that PXTL mentions? Are we not simply another privileged clique self-righteously seeking to impose our ideals upon the rest of the city? What makes this more than a power play? What are we really offering, and why the hell should anybody take us seriously?

If we really intend on "changing" the city, asking ourselves these questions is crucial.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted February 11, 2012 at 11:16:43 in reply to Comment 74020

What does make "us" (is there an "us"?) different from the NIMBYs, conservatives or wingnuts that PXTL mentions? Are we not simply another privileged clique self-righteously seeking to impose our ideals upon the rest of the city? What makes this more than a power play? What are we really offering, and why the hell should anybody take us seriously?

Indeed, excellent questions Undustrial. Everyone needs to "look in the mirror" occasionally.

I often find myself to be a confused bundle of comforting notions mixed with hard learned truths all conspiring to create unavoidable contradictions.

You know, if I'm being honest :)

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 16:21:15 in reply to Comment 74006

The things are practically designed to breed disdain for the public.

Public consultation is hard to do well. Very hard.

I'm not surprised in the least that their public consultation process has been a joke. Making it work is hard, while making it a glorified press conference where they present their solution and then absorb the rotten tomatoes is easy.

I've never suggested that changing the landscape would be easy, that it wouldn't require enormous effort and endurance. Change is never easy, especially when you're dealing with players whose imperative runs contrary to the kinds of change we're hinting at here.

But the status quo is broken. We need to be prepared to fix it. Otherwise, we're going to get more of the same. Which I know few really would want, if the were given both the input and the tools to form truly qualified opinions.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2012-02-08 16:22:24

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 13:57:54 in reply to Comment 73994

In fact, where our local governance is concerned, I'd go so far as to say that our elected representatives privately mutter 'Just leave us alone so we can get our jobs done...as we see fit.'

Not all of them, but this has been the prevailing culture in the past (and by past I mean all forms of governance throughout human history) and those who oppose it such as Laura Peddle, have the cards stacked against them.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 10:08:42

Let's look at the numbers:

(numbers from the article above and here: http://raisethehammer.org/article/1533/a...

The city is paying McMaster $47 million to move downtown.

The Crestwood plan costs $31.6 million.

The estimated cost of the full reno+upgrade to the existing board building is $55 million.

So if we switch things around, that leaves $23.6 million for McMaster.

So, is there any site the City would like to help McMaster build on with $23.6 million?

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 13:45:45 in reply to Comment 73962

The $55 Million number, it should be noted, would be the cost of adding underground parking and another tower to the current building. The actual renovation/environmental/accessibility/building code compliance costs are much lower for 100 Main itself.

It was estimated that all seven sites which the board currently houses staff would cost a total of $44 Million for further use of all of those sites- $16 Million in upgrades, $28 Million in cumulative maintenance.

I'm still waiting for the board to break that number down for us- let's get the actual cost of basic renovation of each site, so we can have a fuller discussion about which sites are worth adapting, and which ones are too costly to restore. A number of the schools/former schools which are currently in use are in very poor shape- some of them far worse than 100 Main.

I think this is something the board should have made more clear in consultations with the public. When you bundle the reno costs of all seven sites, of course it seems more costly than building new. If a Mac/Board partnership would be approved, I think a solution that incorporates 100 Main is a feasible suggestion that needs serious consideration.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 13:19:08

Is money coming from sale of the land part of that money?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 14:01:09 in reply to Comment 73995

Yes. They're counting on it.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-02-08 14:01:32

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 17:16:51

I received a reply from the chairman of the committee looking at a new location for the BoE. He assured me that there was extensive community input, that the community did say they were against moving from downtown. But that after establishing formal site criteria, they looked at multiple downtown sites and none of them met their criteria. So they did the fiscally responsible thing and settled on the Crestwood site, which they already own.

I've replied back and asked if the site criteria, along with the studies of the multiple downtown sites are in the public domain and could he point me to them. I suspect they aren't - am I right? And if they are not, they why not? We paid for these studies. We will pay for their new location. If the site was chosen because it is a fiscally responsible decision, then it should be very easy to show us that.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 08, 2012 at 21:51:30 in reply to Comment 74027

"they looked at multiple downtown sites and none of them met their criteria."

I'd love to know what multiple sites they looked at and see their analysis of why it failed to meet their criteria.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 09, 2012 at 09:22:23 in reply to Comment 74054

Supposedly we are going to find out tomorrow...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 18:27:04 in reply to Comment 74027

That was a canned reply that we all got. I would not expect a further personal reply unless another canned response gets drafted.

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted February 09, 2012 at 20:42:58 in reply to Comment 74037

Yes, it was definitely a canned response. My trustee did write me back and said "expect a reply from the committee chair", so I was expected a formulaic letter. And no, I have not had the courtesy of a response to my questions.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2012 at 18:06:29 in reply to Comment 74027

He assured me that there was extensive community input, that the community did say they were against moving from downtown. But that after establishing formal site criteria, they looked at multiple downtown sites and none of them met their criteria.

Damn.

Turns out I'm 'situationally incontinent'.

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By crispenchewy (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2012 at 00:05:06

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 09, 2012 at 09:09:03 in reply to Comment 74056

It's not only about whether it's good looking or not. It's a matter of cost. It is horribly inefficient and absurdly expensive to tear down a functioning building to erect another. Which would be fine if this were the private sector (since it would be based on a solid business case) but since this is our money being played with then it is not fine.

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By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted February 09, 2012 at 06:00:04

The current building is gorgeous as anyone with any design training would agree. They certainly won't build anything like that again. Demolition of this sort certainly harms Hamilton directly.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2012 at 07:44:52

Sale price was, what, $1.3 million? Too bad local knowledge economy players don't take advantage of these kind of opportunities when they arise. I'm always holding out hope that forward-thinking creative entrepreneurs will take advantage of these once-a-generation bargains. Maybe next time.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 09, 2012 at 11:11:09

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 09, 2012 at 17:20:52

It appears that a second Hamilton area post-secondary educational institution sees possible "redeeming value" in establishing a presence in the downtown core: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-02-09 17:21:59

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By :) (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2012 at 22:19:27 in reply to Comment 74109

Like I keep saying, the Board of Ed has it backwards. Everyone else is looking at moving downtown and they're giving up a prime spot to they can leave. Makes no sense.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2012 at 05:00:29 in reply to Comment 74125

Makes no sense.

Actually, it makes a whole lot of sense if you appreciate the cultural legacy of Board employees having felt they'd been 'forced' to locate in the downtown in the mid-60s. (I'm not claiming that this mindset is reasonable or even appropriate.)

As is the case with so many people these days, 'They want what they want.' The rest of the discussion with them is bafflegab.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2012 at 05:17:33 in reply to Comment 74131

'They want what they want.'

I agree with you. I just think that if they want to move next to the mall, they need to do it on their own dime. Council is under no obligation to finance the Board's retreat from downtown.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2012 at 08:50:01 in reply to Comment 74132

I just think that if they want to move next to the mall, they need to do it on their own dime. Council is under no obligation to finance the Board's retreat from downtown.

And I agree with you. Entirely. But I guess where my response differs from yours...and I'm not marking new territory here...is how I'd re-frame your final statement:

Hamiltonians are under no obligation to finance the Board's retreat from downtown.

And I guess that's indicative of how I regard what the real battle is.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 09, 2012 at 21:19:54

Interesting story regarding this building in The Hamiltonian:

http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2012/02/he...

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By TnT (registered) | Posted February 10, 2012 at 08:16:02

Hey, what about moving the Mac or BoE into the Cannon Knitting Mills as an anchor tennant to that development?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2012 at 08:54:19 in reply to Comment 74140

From what I've heard, a condo/loft-retrofit is in the works. Can't imagine there being room for an 'anchor tenant' besides residents being there. Despite the building's size.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted February 10, 2012 at 11:02:14 in reply to Comment 74144

Maybe it is too close to Food basics for a ground level supermarket. Do you know if the GS food bank is being relocated as well? That building also looks primed for development.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 10, 2012 at 08:25:21

Andrew Dreschel's column in the Hamilton Spectator today is titled "Opposition is growing over school board's HQ move from core": http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-02-10 08:26:02

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 10, 2012 at 16:46:10

Teri Pecoskie reports on thespec.com that the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board staff is officially recommending the closure of seven high schools over the next three years: Delta, Parkview, Sir John A. Macdonald, Dundas Parkside, Hill Park, Mountain, and Sherwood: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

The plan is to build one new high school in the core to replace the three lower city schools being closed.

This will assign a bleak future to the residents of Wards 2, 3 and 4 who are raising or plan to raise children or who hope to encourage new families with children to move into their neighbourhoods.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-02-10 17:11:06

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2012 at 17:54:35 in reply to Comment 74165

Did they just stumble out of a time machine? I feel like we are all extras in the movie Blast From The Past and the HWDSB is Brendan Fraser... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z3N3KquV...

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 10, 2012 at 22:29:43

The Hamilton District School Board has released information today about the 18 sites they had evaluated as the possible location for their new headquarters.

The following is the ranking of sites initially considered by the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board for their new headquarters and the number of points scored for each site using their “site evaluation scoring model” shown in the link below:

  1. Crestwood- 86.69 Points
  2. Jackson Square/Stelco Tower- 86.49
  3. Highland- 83.65
  4. Innovation Park- 82.09
  5. Jerome - 81.95
  6. Sir Allan MacNab- 81.63
  7. Lincoln Alexander Parkway and Pritchard- 81.61
  8. City Hall- 81.34
  9. Sheldon- 80.78
  10. West Harbour Lands- 80.47
  11. Ancaster- 80.04
  12. Chatham- 77.48
  13. King and Queen- 77.04
  14. Windermere- 76.88
  15. Pritchard and Rymal- 76.28
  16. Aberdeen
  17. Upper James and Rymal- 75.48
  18. Flamborough- 69.01 http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/aboutus/education...

And here is their “Top Sites (Over 80 Mark)- Ranked” on Page 12 of their Education Centre Project Report to the Committee of the Whole dated October 18, 2010 as shown in the link below:

  1. Crestwood- 86.69 Points
  2. Highland- 83.65
  3. Innovation Park- 82.09
  4. Jerome- 81.95
  5. Sir Allan MacNab- 81.63
  6. Lincoln Alexander Parkway and Pritchard- 81.61
  7. City Hall- 81.34
  8. Sheldon- 80.78
  9. West Harbour Lands- 80.47
  10. Ancaster- 80.04 http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/aboutus/education...

Questions:

  1. Why was the Jackson Square/Stelco Tower site, which scored 86.49 points and was ranked second only to the Crestwood site in the scoring system used by the School Board, omitted from further consideration as one of the top ten sites in the report presented to the Committee of the Whole on October 18, 2010?

  2. Is there still time for the Board to duly consider the Jackson Square/Stelco Tower site as a possible location for their new headquarters?

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-02-10 23:17:47

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 11, 2012 at 04:51:55 in reply to Comment 74167

I'm looking forward to this discussion about Jackson Square. I'll have to take a better look at the docs, but the Stelco Tower aspect I'm good with...but not the use of what should be prime retail space, Jackson Square. There's something essentially 'wrong' about that to me. (I don't feel quite the same way about 'City Centre', because that was an abysmal development from the start, a really, really bad strategic decision by the developers after Eaton's moved to Mars. LOL)

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 11, 2012 at 05:43:30

Why is their current property NOT on their own list?

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 11, 2012 at 07:21:16 in reply to Comment 74169

Fantastic question!

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 11, 2012 at 14:46:06

An article by Daniel Nolan titled “Board HQ mimics plan from Mohawk “ on thespec.com on Jan 25/12 notes that the proposed new headquarters at the Crestwood site would total 113,500 sq. ft. and cost $31.6 Million to build: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

The website linked below indicates that floors 18 through 24 of the Stelco Tower, which together would total 118,902 sq. ft., are currently available to lease from Yale Properties at a base rent of $13.25 per sq. ft. http://www.realpropertieslimited.com/ham...

One would surmise that the owner of Yale Properties would do as much as it can to attract the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to sign a long-term lease for seven floors of its Stelco Tower property. Surely it would be worth a few exploratory meetings to see whether a mutually beneficial arrangement is possible.

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By D. Shields (registered) | Posted February 11, 2012 at 16:34:05

We can't seem to efficiently get people from beyond the core to our Downtown. This is why there are so many parking lots. Invest in viable public transit & invest in the Future to make Downtown more interesting, innovative, & competitive with boring big box sprawl malls.

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By Stelco Tower (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2012 at 17:26:12

$1.6M/yr X 19 years 9 months = $31.6M NO INTEREST

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 12, 2012 at 08:29:51

The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board would carry with it a massive amount of leverage if it entered Stelco Tower leasing discussions with Yale Properties

Everybody, including Yale Properties, knows that the HWDSB already has a Plan "A" site at Crestwood and that it would take a very attractive deal for them to move away from Plan "A".

Equally important is that the chances of another single government or business entity coming to Yale Properties with an interest in leasing up to seven floors of office space at Stelco Tower in the foreseeable future are very remote.

It would be very surprising if Yale Properties did not offer a sweet lease deal at something less than the advertised base rent which could begin to make more economic sense to HWDSB than continuing its pursuit of Plan "A".

One other potential benefit to the HWDSB is that, if the lease and the desired upgrades to the lease space at Stelco Tower could be achieved within the next several months, perhaps the HWDSB could move directly into Stelco Tower from their existing building without having to make a temporary move elsewhere.

Maybe the economic benefits of an improved lease deal and the possibility of a direct move would add at least 0.21 points to the site evaluation score of Jackson Square/Stelco Tower site and push it up to at least 86.70!

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-02-12 09:10:22

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