Downtown Bureau

$1.2M Incentive for 275 King West Development

The City's planning and economic development committee has approved $1.2 million in financial incentives for a development on 275 King Street West.

By Joey Coleman
Published May 02, 2012

The southmost lane of King Street is blocked west of Hess in front of 275 King Street West (RTH file photo)
The southmost lane of King Street is blocked west of Hess in front of 275 King Street West (RTH file photo)

The Hamilton Spectator reported yesterday on a lane closure of King Street west of Hess Street, blocked by a planned construction at 275 King Street West.

I've been following the development closely the past month as two City committees discussed various applications from the development company Hess Village Real Estate, which owns the property. The company is owned by Denis Vranich, who is the son of Vrancor owner Darko Vranich.

275 King Street West was seriously damaged in a fire early last decade (RTH file photo)
275 King Street West was seriously damaged in a fire early last decade (RTH file photo)

Financial Incentives Total $1,266,152.84

The planning and economic development committee considered two applications, one for a loan commitment [PDF link] and another for a property grant [PDF link].

A loan commitment of $932,500 from the Hamilton Downtown Multi-Residential Property Investment Program and a $333,652.84 grant under the Hamilton Downtown Property Improvement Grant Program were approved.

In total, planning and economic development approved $1,266,152.84 in monetary incentives for the development.

Variances to Allow New Units Without Parking

Hess Village Real Estate has requested variances from the city's minimum building requirements to add five new units to the building, including three small additions units on the third story in the back of the building. There will be no additional parking.

Hamilton's committee of adjustment will consider granting variances for the property. The committee meets on May 3 and rarely turns down a request.

Architect's plan for 275 King Street West showing three new units to be built in the back of the building
Architect's plan for 275 King Street West showing three new units to be built in the back of the building

Next Steps

Currently, there is only one valid building permit active for the property. 10-201640 issued in April 2010 allows for renovations valued at about $200,000.

The developer will need to request a new building permit. With the existing approvals for incentives and variances based upon plans submitted, the permit should be quickly issued once the city receives the application.

While no timelines have yet been released, construction should begin in the near future and proceed quickly.

I'll update when a building permit is issued. For now, here are the building plans as presented to committee.

This article was first published on Joey Coleman's personal website.

Joey Coleman covers Hamilton Civic Affairs.

Read more of his work at The Public Record, or follow him on Twitter @JoeyColeman.

15 Comments

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2012 at 07:54:26

At one point, the owner wanted to demolish the building and put up a concert hall. I guess that plan fell by the wayside.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 02, 2012 at 12:49:57 in reply to Comment 76387

Literally.

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By RayMonty (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2012 at 09:54:42

I heard rumours from on high that this development was originally aiming for LEEDs Gold certification and that was exciting. Any further information on that, or mention of that with the planning committee?

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By Urp (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2012 at 12:12:17 in reply to Comment 76392

They said the same about the Pan Am Stadium, but that has become eclipsed by the driveway to driveay experience.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted May 04, 2012 at 16:16:15 in reply to Comment 76392

Maybe that tree growing out of it constitutes a green roof.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2012 at 10:19:31

Good to hear progress, and good to hear that the City is being accomodating about the parking variance.

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By Hopeful in Hamilton (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2012 at 11:37:44

I'm still trying to make peace with the idea that we're in bed with the Vranich family on these projects, but I'm glad to see evidence of progress. There's also new crane downtown at the former HMP/Federal Building, which means new construction, new jobs, and fewer vacant lots and derelict buildings. I don't know what impact the new retail will have on existing stores, but I know new residents will be a boon.

We're paying a high price to be sure, we're giving and lending tax dollars, and maybe selling a bit of our soul. The money doesn't bother me as much, after all wasn't that the idea behind these programs to encourage development? Are we not getting our money's worth? I suppose time will tell.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted May 02, 2012 at 22:33:24 in reply to Comment 76396

I'm still trying to make peace with the idea that we're in bed with the Vranich family on these projects, but I'm glad to see evidence of progress.

I understand where you're coming from but I think it's important not to use phrases like "Vranich family". Denis Vranich is a disgrace. Charges against him for corruption were tossed out on a technicality, namely that Gordon Moodie, the former head of the downtown residential loan program and the alleged recipient of a bribe from Denis Vranich, was not a "municipal official", but was just a city employee. On the other hands, both criminal charges and a civil lawsuit against Denis Vranich for sexually assaulting one of his employees stuck.

His father Darko, however, is not in this category, although it is true that the bribery charge was related to his company. But Denis is literally a criminal, and his father is not.

As far as this loan + grant is concerned, at this point I can't make peace with the city being "in bed" with Denis and I don't think I likely ever will. With his criminal history he probably couldn't get a job as a city employee, but we're going to just give him $330k? That doesn't seem right to me.

Comment edited by administrator adrian on 2012-05-02 22:36:29

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted May 03, 2012 at 17:08:00 in reply to Comment 76411

Darko made his money in strip clubs. That's a very very sketchy business. He's no saint either.

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By Omega (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2012 at 11:26:03 in reply to Comment 76411

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By Hopeful in Hamilton (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2012 at 10:07:51 in reply to Comment 76411

I'm not going to dispute that the crimes of the junior Vranich are far more serious than those of the Senior Vranich. Any comparison would be insulting and I apologize if I implied otherwise.

In this context I'm having trouble with giving/lending money to people who have been in near-perpetual violation of City bylaws for years. I think these cases are well-known by now so I won't rehash them. Why do we not have some policies in these loan/grant programs that exclude those who have snubbed our bylaws? (i.e. cost the City money). The rule should be that if you want to take advantage of these programs you have to keep your buildings and properties safe and secure and follow all City bylaws. A City can't punish developers based on unrelated provincial criminal situations (as much as we would maybe like to), but surely we should have some rules in place to encourage adherence to our own property standards and fire safety bylaws.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 02, 2012 at 13:04:20 in reply to Comment 76396

Good Post. Cautious optimism is warranted.

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By Evan Thomas (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2012 at 02:05:01

Nothing seems to be wrong if we will let the renovation happen because this could create jobs. This could help our fellowmen avoid the use of payday loans to pay their bills. Don't you think that's worth it?

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted May 03, 2012 at 17:09:55

Who wants to bet this building will be stucco?? The City needs to step up and require more of its developers.

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By lakeside (registered) | Posted May 04, 2012 at 00:03:29

The drawing showing three new units had me confused and thinking there would be three mini-towers on the roof of 275 King.

Looking at it again, and at pictures of the south elevation, it seems that the plan is to fill in ('infill') the three existing light wells on the south side of the building. The additional units are not _on_ the third storey so much as running from the lowest level up to the third storey.

These additions will serve to give the building a more regular, cube-like form.

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