Special Report: Heritage

Wilson Blanchard to Preserve Part of Gore Streetwall

Wilson Blanchard has just announced that they will withdraw their demolition permit application and instead preserve the existing facade of its buildings at 18-28 King Street East.

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 15, 2013

this article has been updated

Wilson Blanchard has just announced that they will withdraw their demolition permit application and instead preserve the existing buildings at 18-22 King Street East, while proceeding with the demolition of 24 and 28 King Street East.

18-28 King Street East
18-28 King Street East

In a news release issued late this morning, VP David Blanchard is quoted saying:

I appreciate that Hamiltonians care about the history of their city. We've been looking long and hard at all the options and feel confident about this new direction to preserve the fa├žade of 18-22 King Street East. While the larger plan for the redevelopment of the south side of Gore Park will take a significant amount of time to complete, this is something we can move forward with immediately.

Previously, the company had announced a proposal to demolish the buildings and build a grocery store with a multi-level parking lot in their place. They requested a demolition permit in mid-December, which automatically took effect on January 9.

For buildings that are not designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, the owner must only give the city 20 days' notice of an intent to demolish.

In general, Council as a whole has not shown much interest in taking an active role in heritage designation, though Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr and Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie have met with Wilson Blanchard to discuss options.

The Heritage Committee recommended designating 18-28 King East as municipal heritage buildings at its December meeting, but Council would have to ratify that recommendation. The Spectator just reported that a motion was passed at today's planning committee meeting to designate 18-22 King Street East while allowing the demolition of 24-28 King Street East.

A campaign was launched at the end of December called on Ontario Minister Michael Chan to designate the building, but a recent article in the Globe and Mail reports that Minister Chan considers this a local matter.

The oldest of the buildings under threat was designed by William Thomas, one of North America's most famous Gothic Revival architects of the 19th century, and built in 1840.

More to come as we learn more details about this development.

Update: This article originally stated that Wilson Blanchard plans to preserve the facade of 18-28 King Street East. It actually plans to preserve 18-22 King Street East.

Update 2: Updated to add a rendering of the Gore streetwall issued today by Wilson Blanchard.

Rendering of restored 18-22 King East with new development on 24-28 King East (Image Credit: Wilson Blanchard)
Rendering of restored 18-22 King East with new development on 24-28 King East (Image Credit: Wilson Blanchard)

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his essays have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. Ryan also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on twitter.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:12:05

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By randomguy (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:22:37

Still depressing. Old buildings that can't be replaced lost and a gaping hole on the Gore, where the city has been trying to bring back to life with pedestrianization. How long before anything even gets built?

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By happy now! (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:30:24

FINE. You can have your 1840 building, so stop your complaining. Those 1875 buildings, though, who needs 'em?

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:31:25

Just to help clear things up, 18 King is the Scotiabank, 22 is Mahal, 24 is the Steelhouse Grill and 28 is the South Side. This means that the two white buildings are likely to be demo'd, which makes sense given the difference in size.

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By Simmons (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:48:20 in reply to Comment 85194

Scotiabank is at 12 King E.

http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=en&rls...

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:42:56

Well folks, this is sad, very sad. so it appears that the residents themselves, who to catalogue all the old buildings, to ensure they are properly designated, so that his does not happen again.

How long will there be a big gapping hole?

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:46:01

If Hamilton can`t put anything up like they do with by-laws going around and telling pls to clean up there front yards they can come-up with something for these old biuldings to keep them up in shape

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 15, 2013 at 12:58:43

I'm still trying to get some more clarification on this, but from what I can tell, Wilson Blanchard has worked out a deal with the City whereby the building at 18-22 - the grey, three-storey buildings on the right side of the photo next to the Scotiabank - will be designated under the Heritage Act and preserved.

Meanwhile, the buildings at 24 and 28 - the two four-storey buildings on the left side of the photo next to the already-demolished gap tooth - will be demolished and left vacant until whenever Wilson-Blanchard's redevelopment plan comes together.

In other words, they're saving one building but the rest of the streetwall will likely be broken for at least the next couple of years.

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By movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 21:23:38 in reply to Comment 85198

This is a nonsensical "solution" to a problem that need never have happened if the dolts at City Hall had a heritage designation process that functioned comprehensively and proactively.

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By Dolts indeed (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2013 at 10:09:33 in reply to Comment 85209

They DO have a process that functions. but they are afraid to use it. If they move an intent to designate, then the demolition permits are immediately voided.

This is a tool that they should be using to negotiate with developers. But they are either too stupid, too scared, or too corrupt to do so.

Instead they try to negotiate with businessmen using only incentives and no punishments. These dolts represent the citizens and it has become clear that they have absolutely no capability of negotiating on our behalf.

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By planning fallacy (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 13:11:24

If the planning committee approved it you know it's not going to be very good for heritage.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 13:12:34

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By Gored (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 13:26:05 in reply to Comment 85200

Stop doing this. You can't buy something that's not for sale.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 13:49:58

Someone told me that downtown Hamilton real estate was 50% off. I thought that was a figure of speech.

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By Dane (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 17:44:53

Farr and McHattie get bamboozled again.

You got outgunned by a guy who does't even know what he is doing and is now telling use that it could take years to accomplish. For Pete's sake, you might as well grab a hammer and give Blanchard a head start.

There is no decision that anything will be designated. The only thing that happened was he relinquished the current permit. He can go get another. He can change his mind. If you don't create standards and rules for how heritage buildings are treated they will never become Heritage Buildings. Farr and McHattie shouldn't be meeting with Blanchard, they should be meeting with the province and demand designation. Enough pussy footing around.

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By movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 21:15:25

"For Pete's sake, you might as well grab a hammer and give Blanchard a head start."

Brilliant.

Our politicians think they have saved the day, but have been completely out-manouevered. When the wrecking ball ultimately hits all the buildings,the councilors will bleat " we did our best." (vote for us again, please.)

Update: I was not in possession of all the facts, and was a little harsh on the downtown core councilors, who it turns out did what they could in the face of some councilors who are determined to completely derail a proper heritage designation process.

Good coverage by CBC Hamilton: http://bit.ly/Y8u8uD

Comment edited by movedtohamilton on 2013-01-15 22:16:23

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By Dane (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 22:24:45 in reply to Comment 85208

Municipal Registry of Cultural Value or Interest.

I am pretty sure this ultimately has no power. Its a token gesture and can suffer the whim of counsel.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 15, 2013 at 22:33:36

Why does the artist's rendition have the bank as a cafe? They don't own that building, much as they'd like to. I love the interior of that building - the huge wood panelling, the marble, the big coat of arms and the clock, the downstairs vault, the big open space. I'd hate to see that place become a cafe.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 16, 2013 at 06:22:07 in reply to Comment 85211

Also, the cars are parked backwards on that one-way street.

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By Gored (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2013 at 07:22:04 in reply to Comment 85212

You mean, cars are parked on that pedestrian plaza.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 17, 2013 at 05:30:14 in reply to Comment 85213

No, I don't.

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By movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted January 16, 2013 at 08:42:33

I nominate the following quote for the Irony Statement of the Year Award.

Quoted in an article in The Spec - http://bit.ly/ZVm4sC - Kathy Drewitt, Executive Director of the downtown BIA, says that "what sets Hamilton core apart from other cities is the "historic architecture".

Do I assume that the downtown BIA is toothless and gutless? Organizing Christmas lighting in Gore Park is all very nice, but....

Comment edited by movedtohamilton on 2013-01-16 08:43:55

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By RImshot (anonymous) | Posted January 16, 2013 at 09:15:43

Don't prejudge this. We could see any number of dynamic rectangles.

http://dpai.ca/projects/14
http://dpai.ca/projects/10
http://dpai.ca/projects/9
http://dpai.ca/projects/6
http://dpai.ca/projects/13

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted April 19, 2013 at 21:25:23 in reply to Comment 85227

or

http://dpai.ca/projects/28

http://dpai.ca/projects/17

http://dpai.ca/projects/19

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-04-19 21:25:30

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