Special Report: Heritage

Architecture Conservancy Calls on Province to Protect Gore Buildings

The Architecture Conservancy of Ontario has formally asked the Province to stop the demolition of 24 and 28 King Street East and to designate the buildings under the Ontario Heritage Act.

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 21, 2013

The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) has formally asked Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport to stop the demolition of 24 and 28 King Street East and designate the buildings under the Ontarion Heritage Act.

24 and 28 King Street East, the two buildings on the left side, are slated for demolition (RTH file photo)
24 and 28 King Street East, the two buildings on the left side, are slated for demolition (RTH file photo)

In December, property owner Wilson Blanchard applied to the city for a permit to demolish all the buildings from 18-28 King Street East. The City's Heritage Committee recommended that Council designate 18-28 under the Heritage Act, but the property owner reached a deal last week with the Planning Committee to preserve the facade and front half of 18-22 while proceeding with the demolition of 24 and 28.

18-22 will be added to the City's register of buildings of historical interest, but will not have protection under Section IV of the Act.

Wilson Blanchard has partnered with dp.Ai to renovate 18-22 so it can attract high quality retail tenants on the main floor with apartments on the upper levels.

Rendering by dp.Ai of a restored 18-22 King Street East as part of a proposed new development (Image Credit: Wilson Blanchard)
Rendering by dp.Ai of a restored 18-22 King Street East as part of a proposed new development (Image Credit: Wilson Blanchard)

A proposed second phase would entail a major new development on the block bounded by King, Hughson, Main and James Streets, most of which Wilson Blanchard currently owns. In the meantime, Wilson Blanchard plans to proceed with the demolition of 24 and 28, a demolition that follows the 2011 demolition of 30 King Street East.

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

ACO Appeal

In a news release issued this morning, the ACO argued, "Protecting built heritage is no longer a strictly local matter: the Act is now clear that the Province shares responsibility for ensuring the protection of our heritage buildings and landscapes."

The ACO cites a 2005 amendment to the Heritage Act that gives the Province power to intercede to save threatened heritage buildings.

ACO explains why they believe the buildings should be protected from demolition:

The buildings are of Provincial significance due to both the association with William Thomas and the quality of design, and are representative of commercial architecture of the pre-Confederation and Victorian periods. These buildings define the character of Gore Park through not only their individual qualities but their collective contribution to a pedestrian-scale streetwall. The buildings have been in continuous use and appear to be structurally fit and suitable for renovation and adaptive reuse. Finally, it is understood that there is no immediate plan for redeveloping the site where the buildings will be demolished.

Michelle Sergi, community planning and design manager in the City's planning department, has provided details on the derivation and history of the buildings. 18-22 was designed by William Thomas and built in 1840, while 24 and 28 were constructed in 1874-76 in the Victorian style.

According to Wilson Blanchard, 24 and 28 are in poor shape and would be very expensive to restore.

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 gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 10:54:22

as someone who has spent the better part of the last decade rebuilding historic buildings very similar to these i can with an informed opinion say that they can in fact be restored in a profitable way. and they can be rebuilt with all the modern conveniences plus the characteristics that make preserving historic buildings so rewarding. it is these qualities, high ceilings, large well thought out windows, facade materials and design of superb quality, human scale design, and quite simply inertia and embedded energy that are very difficult, and in some cases impossible to recreate.
it is ignorance of building construction that allows us to look at the shabby window dressings and the thin veneer of easily removed poor quality work inflicted upon these buildings and come to the conclusion that they are unsalvageable while the recent example of the Lister Block should remind us that the years of decay and willful and negligent neglect can be scraped away and these jewels of buildings, with a careful hand, can be polished to shine in the gore as they once did.
these buildings should be protected and repaired, not as an empty tribute to the past, but because of the richness that these buildings restored can bring to the community as a continuing commitment to the future.

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By erskinec (registered) - website | Posted January 28, 2013 at 08:59:44 in reply to Comment 85355

Thank you for helpful comments.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:38:31 in reply to Comment 85355

I could not have said this better myself. Gary has bought buildings in worse shape than the gore park ones, and brought them back to better than their original glory by his own hands, proving that this is possible.

If Blanchard and Premi claim that it's not possible, they are either lazy, uninformed, unskilled, uncreative, or simply misleading us.

If they are standing behind the contention that the buildings are not salvageable, I would challenge them to allow a third party inspection to be performed. I'd chip in for that in a heartbeat.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2013 at 09:22:01 in reply to Comment 85429

Blanchard's Gore

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-01-24 09:23:50

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 00:32:31 in reply to Comment 85355

Then by all means buy the buildings and preserve them, renovate them and make a bundle.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:52:02 in reply to Comment 85405

Take a look at the condition of the building that a different architect and developer are working on:

http://www.tcarch.ca/projects.php?projec...

Converting this:

interior

To this:

rendering

Yet supposedly the building currently housing David Premi's architecture firm on the second level is not able to be renovated:

(Text reads: The offices of David Premi’s architectural firm, housed in a building that dates to 1859, feature exposed brick, original pine subflooring and great views of the urban theatre on the street below)

premi-office

Source: Office Space - Biz Magazine, Q4 2011 and linked from the dp.Ai website.

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-01-23 11:59:31

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By t.white (registered) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 16:18:48 in reply to Comment 85431

I think that image of Premi's office is exactly what is missing from the debate. Many of us who are not outright anti-demolition can see just how misleading the pro-demolition people are being in this case... I mean look at how the walls are practically falling down around David Premi in that photo--a real lost cause.

I'm totally on board for increasing the density of downtown, but let's build the condos on one of the hundreds of parking lots and leave these clearly salvageable buildings alone to bring their own value to our city.

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By Snooker (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 06:23:49 in reply to Comment 85431

Tribute to the civilizing potential of millions in public money.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2013 at 08:24:09 in reply to Comment 85469

It's entirely possible without public money too. Look what a team of just two citizens can do:

Before: Before

After: After

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-01-24 08:24:40

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By Snooker (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 08:40:02 in reply to Comment 85471

Owner-as-resident is another effective incentive for building maintenance.

Either way, with the demolition of 24 & 28 King East, Blanchard's $10 million preservation estimate may drop to a more palatable $6 million -- the cost of salvaging two three-storey strip clubs.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 10:58:45

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 12:23:45 in reply to Comment 85356

I disagree. The way these buildings contribute to the look and feel of our downtown is a valuable asset, one that is owned by the community. If they want to buy property in our downtown and profit by developing it, they have to play by our rules. If they say that they can't afford that, well, maybe they shouldn't have bought an historic streetwall in the first place!

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 00:34:44 in reply to Comment 85363

But they have been playing by all the rules. It is unfortunate for them that there is a segment of society that wants to change the rules on the fly to prop up their own interests. These are the ones not playing by the rules. It is very hard to play by the rules if the rules keep changing.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted April 25, 2013 at 22:25:52 in reply to Comment 85406

How are the rules changing? Heritage designation is 'the rules', and they should have known that century old buildings could easily be designated heritage buildings. Cost Shmost!

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 20:51:35 in reply to Comment 85406

the rules are not being changed at all. the city has the right under provincial legislation to designate the properties after a demolition permit has been issued. the province also has the right and the responsibility to designate historically significant properties if it feels that the municipality is not protecting heritage properties from destruction. the legislation is very clear. ignorance of the law does not entitle anyone from exemption.

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 11:22:07 in reply to Comment 85356

aside from the fact that there are already grants and loans available to assist in the restoration of these buildings, these incentives must be balanced by strong protection of built heritage with designation.
i am not suggesting that we force the owner to renovate his building. i, and we as a city should, simply ask that the structures, in addition to abiding by property standards every property owner is expected to adhere to, not be demolished. it is the same understanding that the city, and by extension the taxpayers, have a responsibility to the property owner to maintaing and not remove the surrounding infrastructure, like roads, sidewalks, sewers, schools, and parks that make the owners building valuable. this is the implicit deal that all of us enter into when we undertake to live in an organized society.
it is a dangerous precedent to reward every property owner who threatens to reduce part of our city's built heritage to rubble, instead we should use both the existing incentives and more importantly the underused heritage designations to in a balanced way protect the integrity of our shared urban environment.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:40:19 in reply to Comment 85360

Worth repeating:

I, and we as a city should, simply ask that the structures, in addition to abiding by property standards every property owner is expected to adhere to, not be demolished. It is the same understanding that the city, and by extension the taxpayers, have a responsibility to the property owner to maintain (and not remove) the surrounding infrastructure, like roads, sidewalks, sewers, schools, and parks that make the owner's building valuable. This is the implicit deal that all of us enter into when we undertake to live in an organized society.

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By Goodeve (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 12:05:35

"The Hamilton Community Heritage Fund (HCHF) provides interest-free loans to a maximum of $50,000 for restoration of heritage attributes on properties designated under the Ontario Heritage Act."

"The Hamilton Heritage Property Grant Program (HHPGP) is intended to provide financial assistance in the form of a grant for structural/stability work required to conserve and restore heritage features of properties; and, the conservation and restoration of heritage features of properties that are designated under parts IV or V of the Ontario Heritage Act."

http://www.investinhamilton.ca/incentives-programs/municipal-programs/#Heritage

Until these buildings are formally designated, they would appear to be ineligible for the city's heritage program.


Other options...

> Gore Building Improvement Grant Program would provide matching grants up to $50,000 per property for eligible work under the Program.

> Hamilton Downtown Commercial Façade Property Improvement Grant Program would provide matching grants up to $10,000 per property for eligible work under the Program

> The Commercial Property Improvement Grant Program (CPIG) funds eligible façade and entryway improvements. For properties with a street frontage greater than 25 feet, it provides a grant on a matching basis of $400 per linear foot of street frontage, up to a maximum of $20,000; for properties with a street frontage of 25 feet or less, it provides a matching grant to a maximum of $10,000

It's probably also possible to work other angles to obrtian funds under the Hamilton Downtown Multi-Residential Property Investment Program.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 12:50:12 in reply to Comment 85362

And is that alll Hamiltonoians tax money that your all talking about , if so thats why our streets are so bad and bridges and so on , so for Blanchards he has 4 to 5 buildings so HHPGP and CPIG will give him like a 250,000 to 300,000 to make that all happend

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 14:01:30 in reply to Comment 85364

actually, most of these programs trigger MPAC property valuation increases which significantly increase the tax collected by the city and are revenue neutral over the near term but generate excellent returns for the city in the long term.

the reason our streets and bridges are in such bad shape is that we have built too many new streets and bridges and sewers without fully understanding the relationship between projected growth and actual revenue as it relates to the cost of maintaining existing infrastructure combined with distorted funding priorities on the municipal and provincial level.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 13:33:45 in reply to Comment 85364

Cultural heritage is infrastructure. Successful cities recognize this and invest in it just as we invest in roads, transit, etc.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 21, 2013 at 17:10:54 in reply to Comment 85365

get outta here. We all know that everyone visits Paris to check out their newest McDonalds and smooth roads. Heritage schmeritage....

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 00:37:18 in reply to Comment 85367

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By Dane (registered) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 19:39:48 in reply to Comment 85407

groan... sarcasm buddy

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:24:29 in reply to Comment 85442

look up the meaning of sarcasm, buddy

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By stage director (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2013 at 10:04:36 in reply to Comment 85367

Cue the trolls harping about how Hamilton is not Paris.

Except that we could have been Canada's Paris if we hadn't torn down the buildings we already did.

But since we aren't Paris we might as well tear everything else down!

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 00:39:20 in reply to Comment 85388

Paris was already a capitol city and the envy of many when the first 2 stones were joined together in Hamilton. Hamilton will never be anther Paris or London or Rome or.....

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By Dane (registered) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 19:41:00 in reply to Comment 85408

Lets not get into a history lesson. Paris comes with a lot of baggage from a development perspective.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 23, 2013 at 12:34:41 in reply to Comment 85408

Might as well tear it all down then. In fact every city might as well be razed if it isn't paris (or london or rome or...)

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By bvb borussia (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2013 at 17:30:05

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By wrong (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2013 at 18:16:32 in reply to Comment 85399

Sorry, but you are wrong.

Ownership of property is not like ownership of an ipod or a dining room table.

The maintenance of your building affects your neighbours, and the maintenance of entire neighbourhoods affects the city as a whole. In other words, the public has a stake in every piece of property no matter who "owns" it. This is why we all pay property taxes and why we must adhere to zoning bylaws when making changes to our properties.

By your logic, I should be allowed to drive my car around on carbide spiked tires with no brakes, no muffler, no headlights and no seatbelts. 'Cause it's my car. I bought it.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 02:04:22 in reply to Comment 85400

Ownership of property is not like ownership of an ipod or a dining room table.

Sure it is. You can buy something because you like it, because it's an investment you expect to make a return on, or because it's a deal. What you do with it is up to you as long as you abide by the law. I can't take your iPod because I like it more than mine, unless I have your consent. I can sell my home if I want to, I can do whatever I feel like to it too as long as it's legal.

So if you are doing whatever it is you do and it's legal, there's nothing to complain about. Don't like the laws? Get out there and change 'em. Don't sit around RTH talking about how you know what's best for someone else's possessions. If you want to do something different with those properties, give Wilson Blanchard an offer with your price on the properties, and commence restoration immediately. I'm sure you'll have no problem getting fellow RTH'ers to help you out with mortgage and tax payments, renovations, and then finally taking up residence for their home or business within, right?

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 20:58:48 in reply to Comment 85414

i think the key phrase in your analogy is "i can do whatever i feel like to (my home) too as long as it is legal"
there is currently a municipal bylaw which protects buildings designated as being significant to the heritage of the city. there is also provincial legislation which protects said buildings both of municipal and provincial value.
we are not calling for laws to be changed, we are calling for laws to be used for their intended purpose: to protect significant heritage buildings in our community.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:58:28 in reply to Comment 85445

The building is not a heritage building, thus what gets done with it is legal.

The point that you've missed is, they are free to tear it down. You don't like it? Pool your pennies and make an offer and do what you like with it, as long as it's legal.

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 22:11:53 in reply to Comment 85455

the building is a heritage building as both the ACO and the HMHC, the body that advices Council on such matters, have said as much and called for its designation.
it is true that the buildings have not been designated and as such are subject to demolition permits which is why we are calling for designation.
discussions of one's pennies are irrelevant.

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By buying (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 10:28:50 in reply to Comment 85414

Actually, we have a group assembled ready to buy but are being told they aren't for sale.

It would appear his plan is to acquire as much of the block as he can, and take as much of it down to bare land as possible in order to sell the entire parcel at some point down the road (after all of his neighbours' hard work increases his property values for him).

Got any other brilliant ideas?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:59:56 in reply to Comment 85423

Sure. Pool more money. If Wilson Blanchard is this evil corporation, then it must be the dollars driving it. Put a plan in place to buy the block, or buy the lynchpin to this - the bank.

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By bvb borussia (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 13:03:29 in reply to Comment 85423

I thought Wilson Blanchard was a short sighted, get-rich-quick real estate huckster?

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 00:41:42 in reply to Comment 85400

Except that all those silly things you want to do with your car is against the law. What he wants to do with the buildings is not. You and those like you want to either change the law or just force someone else to spend their money to please you. For some reason you believe you know what is best for everyone.

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:01:30 in reply to Comment 85409

we are calling for the city and the province to use existing law to protect the buildings in question. i am not calling for the law to be changed nor for someone to spend any money to please me.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 09:43:00 in reply to Comment 85409

Maybe what he wants to do with those buildings SHOULD be against the law.

Maybe it should be against the law to tear down a building when you have no concrete plans for rebuilding.

Oh wait...it is, there's a city Bylaw enacted after Blanchard pulled this same stunt on James Street.

I wonder if he tears them down, if we'll use it.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 13:11:55 in reply to Comment 85419

Hey Robert ,, why is it then the CITY gave Blanchard a demo permit befor Christmas , what kind of BY-LAW IS that

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 22:39:14 in reply to Comment 85434

I believe the bylaw penalizes demolition unless something is rebuilt within 2 years, and my understanding is that simply applying for a permit doesn't trigger the bylaw, you have to tear down the building first, and then not build anything within the specified time. Then the by-law fines you.

What kind of bylaw is that? Not a very effective one if you ask me.

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:04:42 in reply to Comment 85434

the city issued a demolition permit because it is required under the bylaw to issue a permit within a certain time period. blanchard applied for the demolition permit between council meetings over the holiday break seemingly to avoid having the issue brought up by council who could halt the issuance by designating the buildings.

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By bvb borussia (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2013 at 20:59:37 in reply to Comment 85400

Thanks for the fall equivalent. By your logic, your neighbours have the right to pick out the colour of your bedroom. They have a stake in every piece of property after all.

We're talking about a matter of degree. Of course there is a public stake, but this developer hasn't broken any zoning bylaws. These are not Heritage Buildings, and as far as I can tell, prior to his plan to redevelop these properties no one gave a toss about their continued deterioration and neglect. If these buildings were of such cultural and historical significance they would never have fallen into such disrepair.

He wants to put money in downtown Hamilton, which is more than most have been willing to do for many years. I would much prefer money being put to work than left on the sidelines for the sake of what today is an eyesore.

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:09:55 in reply to Comment 85403

it is not a matter of extrapolating on anyone's logic. door colour and matters of degree do not enter into the discussion. there is municipal and provincial legislation that protects buildings of significance from being torn down. it is very clear the scope and the intent of the controls placed on private ownership.
if you would like to discuss your claim that these are not heritage buildings in your opinion, contrary to the heritage committee and the ACO that is something that can be discussed.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:30:34 in reply to Comment 85448

The sole purpose of the existence of both the heritage committee and the ACO is to make every old building a heritage building. Not much of a source. Sort of like the NRA saying we should be allowed to own guns.

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:59:39 in reply to Comment 85453

the purpose of the city of hamilton's municipal heritage committee is to advise Council on heritage matters. the committee itself does not designate buildings.
the architectural conservancy of ontario is a non profit group which advocates for architectural and environmental heritage protection in ontario. neither do they have the power to designate buildings.

these are groups made up of passionate, educated, and informed individuals who volunteer their time towards protecting our built heritage. they are exactly the people we should be listening to with regards to preserving our threatened buildings.

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By broken bylaws (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 10:11:18 in reply to Comment 85403

He has broken bylaws, but the city does not enforce them. He has let the buildings fill with feces, he has not maintained them, and now he's claiming they are beyond repair.

We actually do have laws to protect heritage buildings and neighbourhoods, but our city does not use them as a tool.

It's time we started.

You can argue the letter of the laws all you want, but the theories I presented are valid. My point was in fact that we have laws to prevent people from damaging the environment with cars, and we should have stronger laws preventing people from damaging neighbourhoods with thier property neglects and demolitions.

When you own a piece of property, you actually are restricted from doing things that affect the buildings and people surrounding you. My argument is that we need better implementation and enforcement. Of course this has nothing to do with the colours of bedrooms but that was a nice try.

Blanchard does NOT want to put money in downtown Hamilton. He is a speculator. A land broker. He wants SOMEONE ELSE to put money downtown. And he hasn't found anyone yet. And with the kind of treatment he's been giving that block, he may never find someone.

When he has a developer, financing, building permits, etc - THEN we can talk about the value of replacing buildings. Tearing them down before any of this is absolutely going to affect all other property owners negatively, and SHOULD be against the law.

Two possible reasons that you're defending his moves:

1. You don't understand the basic fact that he has no development plan, is not actually a developer, and is not actually making an investment here,
or
2. You have some personal or financial relation to him or some other reason for supporting him.

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By bvb borussia (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:24:55 in reply to Comment 85422

Come on, that car metaphor was a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, I am looking at this very objectively. I have no relationship with Wilson Blanchard of any type. Good or bad.

I lament what has been done to this city's downtown core as much as the next person. I think we can all agree that we want to see a beautiful and thriving Hamilton. Perhaps we differ in how to go about this.

I don't think buildings should be tore down without concern or care for laws or good sense. If better enforcement is needed, I would certainly support it.

If historical buildings can be saved and put to use, I am all for it. But if they are being neglected to the point of rot, then I don't have a problem with someone stepping in to make good use of them.

Also, the comments you've made about Wilson Blanchard don't exactly square with what is being by said by the chair of the board of directors of the Downtown Business Association or the chair of the city’s municipal heritage committee.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/823015---120m-development-planned-for-hamilton-s-core

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:13:16 in reply to Comment 85427

blanchard has owned the properties in question for more than a decade. he is not stepping in. these buildings do not, and should not need to be torn down to make good use of them which is why they need to be protected with designation

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By track record (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:33:38 in reply to Comment 85427

He may have fooled a few people into thinking he's a restorer but his track record speaks for itself. He has renovated some historic buildings but they were not actual historical restorations. He has also taken a bunch down. That gravel lot next to the pigott building being a prime example - the one which resulted in a bylaw colloquially named after him.

It's simple: we should not tolerate demolition of ANYTHING without a secure plan for rebuilding - and a plan that would create a greater asset to the city than what it replaced.

We have the tools to do this - we just need to use them.

If council voted on an intent to designate, the demolition permits would be automatically voided.

Council should be using this as a tool to negotiate with developers. If they issued this intent, blanchard would either be forced to come up with a real plan that is faithful to the history of the area, or he would have to sell it to someone who does have a plan (of which there are many in this city).

He has no plan. God, look at the rendering! Was it created by a grade nine student who forgot his ruler at home?

It's time to play hardball with these speculators. There is no way that ruling with a fist can make things worse than they already are with these guys.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 13:18:27 in reply to Comment 85428

Then City Hall should have not given him a demolition permit to begin with

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 00:42:44 in reply to Comment 85403

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By bvb borussia (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 09:16:12 in reply to Comment 85410

They're looking good in Europe. Young side, but lots of potential. I Hope they can bring back the glory of '96!

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By bvb borussia (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 09:40:39

This developer isn't planning to rip these storefronts down and rebuild with popsicle sticks. I am certain that he we would not go to all this trouble to lose money. He wants to attract businesses and individuals to occupy these buildings. It therefore behooves him to restore these buildings with some semblance of good taste. Whether or not that taste matches your is irrelevant. Don't like the new look? Don't invest. But please don't sit in the audience to heckle and jeer while someone else has the guts to get on stage.

These buildings are in very poor shape. I could understand the argument if they were immaculately maintained and preserved tributes to Hamilton's past. The truth is they're not. Without investment these buildings will continue to deteriorate and blight.

Investors have not been beating down a path to investment in downtown Hamilton. This city has been bereft of meaningful investment for years. As every municipality west of Toronto as grown and prospered we have stagnated and declined. We have finally reached a point where money is beginning to trickle in and there is a chance at renewal. Let's not scare people away with red tape and NIMBYism.

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:21:18 in reply to Comment 85418

it is completely immaterial what would if anything replace these significant structures. these buildings have been superficially and cosmetically neglected and are perfect candidates for the same type of rebuilding that countless buildings in our core have undergone and will undergo in the decades to come. i do agree that these buildings could use investing in and that in their present shape they add considerably less to the city than their huge potential. it is exactly these types of historic buildings that will attract investment by people like myself. these buildings have incredible value and bright futures if they are protected as they should be

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By Blanchard is not the investor (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:21:06 in reply to Comment 85418

Blanchard is simply a broker and speculator. He is not a developer. He is not investing in buildings. He is trying to create a mass of land to attract actual investors.

"Investors have not been beating down a path to investment in downtown Hamilton."

Exactly. This is why we should not allow any demolition until he finds investors.

You need to stop confusing blanchard with a developer.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 09:52:06 in reply to Comment 85418

Also, saying that we are heckling and jeering while others have hte guts to get onstage is a hollow argument, rebutted in several threads of this site.

Most of the people criticizing own older homes downtown, or older buildings downtown, and have completed successful rennovations. They have skin in the game too. We're not just an "audience" - we're on stage too.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 09:50:10 in reply to Comment 85418

He's not planning to rebuild at all. He has a "concept" but still doesn't know what it will look like in the end. He has no financing or partners - read what he himself said to the Spectator (or was it CBC) when he and his partner couldn't even agree whether or not the final development (whenever it happens) will have condos.

There are many people who WANT to buy these buildings. Some of them even post on this site, and have been involved in restoring other buildings nearby. They have offered to buy and restore these particular buildings. Blanchard refuses to sell them because he has bigger plans.

Investors are beating down a path to investment in downtown Hamilton, but people like Blanchard, who have held onto decaying properties and parking lots (some of which he created by demolishing what was there) are holding development back as they "wait" for the rising tides to raise their ship, and then they hope to make their money and get out. You don't even have to go that far away from these buildings to see the loving restoration and rennovation that is being done to other buildings.

Conversely, you also don't have to go far to find buildings that are owned by absentee landlords who just collect their cheque without investing, rennovating, or maintaining. In the worst case you find owners of vacant buildings happy to let it sit empty and vacant, not putting any money into it (or even paying taxes) and letting it deteriorate, wilfully ignorant of what the state of that building is doing to the perception of the neighbourhood.

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By bvb borussia (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 10:29:08 in reply to Comment 85420

Agreed. Admittedly I am new to this site. Forgive me if I am repeating other's points.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Wilson Blanchard's plans are perfect. It appears to early to tell. But given the roadblocks that have appeared you could understand why they've not written anything in stone. I don't honestly believe he plans to tear these buildings to make a parking lot.

My biggest complaint with this process are the people determined to change the rules as they go. Maybe these buildings should have been designated Heritage Buildings, but they weren't.

I just think it sends the wrong message to investors if this city continues make the rules up as we go along.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 22:45:36 in reply to Comment 85424

If we overhauled our existing rules, and made a comprehensive plan, we wouldn't have to make things up as we went along.

There have been a number of good suggestions, from having an architectural standards committee, to replacing our rigid zoning system with a set of design and use principles that provide greater flexibility for adaptive re-use, to revamping the heritage committee to reducing or eliminating the minimum parking requirements (that last one has the support of developers, who say it is holding downtown Hamilton back).

But nothing ever changes, these proposals never get any traction, city staff shoot down all initiatives for change. So trying to fight our battles on a case by case basis is all we have left.

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 21:25:34 in reply to Comment 85424

again, no one is trying to change rules. and again, it is immaterial what is proposed if the buildings were destroyed. the process for designation after a demolition permit has been issued is carefully outlined in law. the city and the province have recourse to protect structures after a demolition permit has been issued.

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By bvb borussia (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 00:02:34 in reply to Comment 85452

Fair enough. Do you believe that is the best way to go about things? Issuing demo permits and then working back from there?

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By gary buttrum (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 17:45:59 in reply to Comment 85466

i believe that the best way to deal with protecting heritage buildings is through designation proactively, of course. there seems to be very little political will across council to use such tools however resulting in situations like this. if these buildings are not significant in the eyes of council, like the lister block before it, exactly which buildings are?

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 09:48:28 in reply to Comment 85466

It is if you're trying to extort the public purse.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 11:00:56 in reply to Comment 85424

I CAN`T AGREE WITH YOU MORE BVB well said

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By Ascot (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2013 at 17:16:09

Hamilton will always bend over backwards for $100m real estate pitches, and money will always open doors. Sad but true.

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By AMENHOTEP Annon (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2013 at 15:06:52

It is really to bad that Dec 4th planning meeting didn't go further with the recommendation to add this building to the registry. Apparently Councillor Farr was in talks for weeks before the Dec 4th planning meeting. See his remarks here http://hamilton.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=340&doctype=AGENDA at the 8:12 minute mark just following the debacle about Sanford School. Interesting information yes?

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 13:37:59

Uh oh, someone is planning to demo a 2 floor concrete box to put in an 8 story rental apartment that will promote density, remove surface parking and create affordable rental options for the city. Surely the heritage of this building must be preserved at all costs.

http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/story/20...

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By Troll_Poison (registered) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 13:57:16 in reply to Comment 85524

*ignore*

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted January 25, 2013 at 14:00:25 in reply to Comment 85525

You know what, that's fair, but I will been keenly interested if calls for preservation of this building do occur, because this is just another example of a project that serves to aid and promote many of the factors that benefit an urban environment.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-01-25 14:04:50

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By erskinec (registered) - website | Posted January 28, 2013 at 09:02:53

Good going ACO!

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