Special Report: Heritage

Proposal: Three-Way Partnership to Save Gore Facades

Wilson-Blanchard, the City of Hamilton and the citizens of Hamilton could enter a three-way partnership to finance the preservation of the King Street East facades that are threatened by demolition.

By Graham Crawford
Published July 08, 2013

As the founder and owner of Hamilton HIStory + HERitage, and the owner of the building in which H+H is located (built in 1883), I too agree that the planned demolition of 24 and 28 King Street East is a very short-sighted decision.

Fencing around 18-28 King Street East (Image Credit: Sean Burak)
Fencing around 18-28 King Street East (Image Credit: Sean Burak)

David Blanchard is entitled to develop his business so that it provides a return on investment that he, and his partners, deem appropriate. Intelligent development, after all, is good for all citizens.

Having said that, Blanchard's profits do not stand alone in their importance. They stand along with the social, historical, and urban fabric of our city.

Even a city block is not an island. It is merely a piece of property in a larger, more complex, more fragile, and more vibrant whole.

May I suggest that we consider a different solution?

May I suggest that we try to put together a three-way partnership to save the two buildings?

May I suggest that we get an independent, verifiable estimate for the cost of saving the facades of the two buildings in question. And that we divide that estimate into three.

One third would be paid by Mr. Blanchard's group. One third would be paid by the City of Hamilton through its downtown grant program. One third would be raised by the citizens of Hamilton who are correct in their desire to maintain our heritage.

I would be happy to begin by pledging the first $1,000.

If the citizens fail in raising their one-third of the money, then I suppose we may need to allow things to unfold as they may. But at least we would not demolish prematurely. Not only that, but all three partners can claim honestly that they did their best to protect what we hold so dear.

For this proposal to work, we would need a commitment from all three parties. While I acknowledge it's easier to identify Mr. Blanchard and the City than it is the citizens of Hamilton who are willing to put in their money, I think the latter can, and will, be evident if this compromise and the campaign that would emerge from the agreement are publicized.

I applaud the efforts of those who are so actively engaged in this discussion. In particular, I look to our Councillors, all of them, to continue their participation in resolving this critical issue.

I look to Mr. Blanchard to demonstrate some goodwill and hold off on the demolition for at least the rest of the summer.

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

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 13:16:02

Wekk said Graham , let the peoples from ward 2 to rais it or anyone els who whants to put there money were there muuth is !

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 13:49:12 in reply to Comment 90015

No one is actually that bad at spelling. The performance is getting pretty old...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 13:36:43 in reply to Comment 90015

Hi Bill.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 14:15:50

Personally I think this offer should be contingent on the independent report also showing that the removal of the building last year had no ill effect on the structure of these two buildings.

It seems that demolition may have necessitated this one, if thats the case something (really,really) stinks.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2013 at 14:32:51

I don't see much benefit in putting in the amount of work necessary to come up with this agreement simply to save the facades - and also put all of the legwork for drumming up support on the shoulders of those citizens who are already heavily involved in downtown rejuvination.

I would gladly financially contribute to saving these buildings, but I'm not about to cut a cheque to blanchard to have a disneyworld facade plastered to a glass box.

Graham, would you be content to have your gallery in a new building with some old brickwork glued to the front? That is not heritage and it does not solve the problem of wasting the embodied energy by demolishing fully built building. The stone masonry holding these up since the 1840s will hold them up for hundreds of years more.

Council should vote an intent to designate, forcing blanchard to either do this in a respectful way, or sell to someone who will. It's a simple solution, and any "compromise" is unnecessary at this point. The city and citizens no longer owe Blanchard anything. He has done his part to keep the core down and neighbouring values low so that he can play his land assembly game. We've given him enough.

If he wants to sell his tower idea, he can do so on the lots he has already cleared, and sell the functioning building stock to someone who understands heritage.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 15:13:24

I would be happy to begin by pledging the first $1,000.

I'll chip in $1000. First we need to make sure Blanchard agrees, though.

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 22:49:04 in reply to Comment 90030

why would you ever agree to this???
if your neighbour threatened to knock his house down would you then offer to fundraise for him to maintain his private property??

how is this not extortion?!?

the city has the tools to stop this. all they need to do is designate.

if the city pays one nickel to save these buildings it will reenforce a dangerous precedent that was set with the lister block. threaten to demolish and then negotiate a sweetheart deal. outrageous.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2013 at 15:34:19 in reply to Comment 90030

Agreed mrgrande. Mine is gesture of intent, but would have to have both Wilson Blanchard's signature as well as the City of Hamilton's approval.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2013 at 15:25:08

Sean, I'm never a fan of façadism as a first choice. I prefer it, however, over demolition. I don't want replication either. That's true Disneyfication. Like what LiUNA and Larry DiIanni wanted for the Lister Block.

Although we both know that we're largely in sync on this whole debate, where you and I may disagree is when we mix respect for heritage with respect for the environment.

When interiors are gutted entirely (plaster wall, ceilings, floors, joists, etc) and replaced with everything new, including new drywall, in my view that has very little to do with respect for heritage. When you walk inside a building that has its original facade but once inside, has absolutely nothing original to make it any different from a building of the same dimensions that was erected 5 minutes ago, then what we have is a kind of facadism (albeit using 4 walls two of which in the case of urban commercial properties are usually party walls and never seen).

I applaud the work at modernizing old buildings so they continue to live, but I would never applaud that as heritage preservation. Let's say that ceiling heights were maintained in a new structure behind an old facade, but the floors and walls had been replaced and the buildings connected, would that be much different than gutting the interior completely but maintaining the bricks on the sidewalls and replacing the entire interior structure and then covering them with drywall? A little different, but not by much. This is much like what has happened to many historic homes in Toronto (Cabbagetown and Rosedale come to mind). Outside they still look pretty much like they always did, but inside they all look the same. Pot lights for days. Seas of drywall. Brand new floors and baseboards and ceiling trim. Etc. That ain't heritage. I'm not upset that it happens, just pointing out what it is and what it isn't.

Having said that though, if your focus is on environmental factors as they relate to the modernization of an existing structure, I agree that it's so much less wasteful to modernize the shell than to simply demolish the building. What would be even better in my view is if all of the elements outside and inside the structure were maintained and to the extent possible or desired, restored and not replaced. As you know, the plaster walls in my building are original (1883), even if a bit rough. I would no more think of removing the plaster and replacing it with drywall than I would removing the pressed metal ceiling on the main floor, also original and a little rough.

I just want to keep the two ideas (respect for heritage and respect for the environment) separate for purposes of this discussion. Please believe me when I say that both are worthy of debate. Including for this one.

Comment edited by H+H on 2013-07-08 15:27:38

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2013 at 20:18:49 in reply to Comment 90032

I agree with everything in your comment, but I'm still worried about the idea of "facade preservation" as it is very open to different interpretations, many of which alter the scale, personality and functionality of the structures far too radically. Maintaining these buildings not only provides us the efficiency of reusing a structure that is built to a very high standard, there is also the interaction with the street and the city. Small storefronts are incubator spaces, and the positive effects of 4-5 such spaces on gore park will be much greater than that of a preserved facade that opens into a cavernous condo foyer "or Target, or whatever" (in the words of Blanchard). Even if the interior has no original features left, the buildings' very layouts can benefit the core.

I would hate to see us lose the necessary human-scaled street-level interaction with Gore Park in the name of preserving facades.

And aside from ALL of this is the matter of there being NO PLAN. What is the rush? Why there? Why now? Blanchard is eager to get these down before designation gets in his way. We will see no "shovels in the ground" for years (if ever).

Why is council rewarding WB for the last decade of neglect?

The current state of King Street is partially because of the perverse rewards we give for absenteeism and speculation - and our refusal to use Heritage Act tools to benefit the city as a whole. It's time to stop bending to speculators for fear of - I'm not even sure what. For fear of them leaving town? We'd all be better off if they DID leave. A lot of them made bad investment decisions in the eighties, or decided to cross their fingers and hold the city hostage for public funds. Some succeeded. As for the rest? Too bad. It's time for a new precedent: Designate now and if the speculators can't figure out how to make it work, they are free to cut their losses and sell to someone who can, because the citizens can't afford to prop up their get rich quick (???) schemes any more.

What better place to start a new precedent than with some of the most significant original structures facing our public square?

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 21:04:40 in reply to Comment 90040

Why is council rewarding WB for the last decade of neglect?

These building have improved over the past 10 years. The neglect started long before the current owners.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 21:26:03 in reply to Comment 90041

Are you for real? He spent no money on them, let the facades decay, actually demoed one even though it was structurally sound, and then kicked all the tenants out of the rest so he can knock them down too. In what universe did he make them better?

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 21:46:24 in reply to Comment 90042

You must be new in town. Those buildings were blights on the neighbourhood. Squatters, sketchy nightclubs, endless failed storefronts (with the notable exception of South Side), speakeasy's and flop houses. They've been decaying as long as I remember.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 22:06:38 in reply to Comment 90043

Been in town for years. Seen lots of "blights" and "sketchy" buildings bought, restored, renovated into beautiful successful places by people who care about their community. Also seen lots of buildings bought by speculators, demolished with promises of new developments, years later still gravel. There's a bylaw that says you can't knock down a building and turn it into a parking lot. It was passed because of David Blanchard knocking down a building and turning it into a parking lot. That's the white knight your betting on, to knock down these buildings and not leave them as flat gravel. Even though he has no plan, no financing, no approvals, no permits, no nothing. See, people who've been in town for awhile have learned not to trust speculators when they say they'll knock down a building and build "a grocery store or a target or... whatever, I don't know." We've learned not to trust speculators when they say a building has "had it" and is "shot" because they also said that about all the buildings that people fought to save and we're proud of now.

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By screencarp (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 22:58:00 in reply to Comment 90045

That's right, Mr. Blanchard is just an evil land developer with a moustache and a cigar trying to screw us out of the farm. ~sigh~ The block has improved a great deal under the current owners. Suggesting otherwise is completely false and misleading.

As far as saving the buildings goes, I'm all for it.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 23:17:16 in reply to Comment 90048

"Blanchard, who has an interest in a number of downtown properties, was in the headlines in 1999 when he tore down the former Canada Permanent building across the street from the Pigott Building. That prompted city council to pass a bylaw prohibiting developers who demolish old structures from opening parking lots in their place."

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/224049...

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 08:35:25 in reply to Comment 90051

Two years after that demolition, Yale knocked down a building almost directly across the street.

http://www.raisethehammer.org/comment/64099

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 23:09:58 in reply to Comment 90048

Not saying he's evil. Saying he hasn't given us any reason to trust him on this. He doesn't have a plan to replace the buildings. All he has is a photoshop rendering that looks like it was done in 5 minutes. Sure he owns some old buildings but he's also knocked over a lot of old buildings, which is why he has a by-law named after him saying you're not allowed to knock over a building and put a parking lot in it's place.

And seriously, you must be living in an alternate universe if you think the block is better under Blanchard. The Main side and part of the James side is already demolished, and he's working on the King side.

How is a block better after a building gets knocked down and all the tenants evicted from the other buildings, which the owner has never invested in?

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By screencarp (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 23:32:58 in reply to Comment 90049

He owned the buildings for 10 years. They only got evicted in the past few months. I cede that empty is awful, but it's unfair to ignore the rest. I don't think you understand how bad that block was before they bought it. I would take it as a sign that things will move quickly one way or the other.

As far as trusting him goes, look at the corners of Main and James.

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By PigottSun (registered) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 11:55:33 in reply to Comment 90052

Please stop repeating the misconception that "the corners of Main & James" are all David Blanchard's work --- at least with regard to the Pigott Building.

He's NOT, in fact, responsible for the preservation of the Pigott Building. The truth is that he had nothing to do with either the original restoration of the building or its subsequent condo redevelopment in the mid-90s, both of which were conducted by Toronto firms.

His only connection to the Pigott/Sunlife complex --- and it's a fairly recent one --- is that his company, Wilson Blanchard, took over the management of the building a few years ago. It currently owns the main floor commercial area and has made some improvements to the interior office space for clients it leases space to.

Last year, an extensive exterior facelift of the Pigott Building was undertaken at a cost of over $800,000, and it was completely financed by the condo owners through a special assessment. Again, Mr. Blanchard made no financial contribution to this recent preservation project.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2013 at 09:22:32 in reply to Comment 90052

He made no investments in those buildings. He just happened to be the owner of some storefronts that people were willing to rent. He did the absolute bare minimum and collected rent. Any improvements to that block of King were due to city investments and general renaissance built by other people.

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 10:26:36 in reply to Comment 90064

I'm sorry, but I know for a fact that's not true. Can you at least point out the "city investments" that occurred in that block over the past 10 years?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2013 at 14:45:08 in reply to Comment 90079

How about the gore pedestrianization pilot which has brought more life to that block in the last year than blanchard's buildings have in ten years. What improvements has he made to those buildings? Please share your knowledge...

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 20:26:14 in reply to Comment 90094

Please share your knowledge...

I've been trying, but some folks just want to argue about stupid shit they know nothing about. This is why we can't have nice things.

He's a well respected developer who has a great deal of experience and success with large scale heritage projects in downtown Hamilton. WB is a successful building management company. We need more density downtown. We need more places to live and people living there. Being adversarial is not helpful.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 22:39:52 in reply to Comment 90112

Well, at least you're no longer claiming that he actually restored anything, even if that's what you're trying to imply with weasel words like "experience and success with large scale heritage projects", so I suppose that's progress.

Nonetheless you have failed to demonstrare how the fact that Blanchard manages buildings that were saved by others, entitles him to destroy a significant portion of the streetwall of our most important urban space.

With all the vacant land in the downtown, the notion that we need to tear down heritage buildings to increase density is absurd. If we can't have nice things, it's because of speculators like Blanchard knocking out irreplaceable stretches of streetwalls, and devaluing the building stock and public spaces that others have invested so much in.

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 22:52:05 in reply to Comment 90114

the problem isn't blanchard. he is just doing his job. i think its despicable, myself, but business is business.

the real blame lies on the city for not protecting heritage structures through proactive designation and enforcement of property standards.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 07:58:04 in reply to Comment 90117

Absolutely the city must step in and insist on designation, however my response was to screencarp, who is trying to portray Blanchard as some kind of preservation hero.

Love his quote in the paper this morning on preserving heritage: "I just don't understand why people would waste money on this." Our hero.

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 12:30:47 in reply to Comment 90125

But that IS his reputation. With the city, with contractors and with other developers. He's not a speculator, he has deep roots in the downtown core. The way he's been characterized on this site, and in this thread is undeserved.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 15:17:35 in reply to Comment 90144

He is being judged by his words and actions. Your devotion to Blanchard is touching. Too bad the man himself undermines your claims every time he opens his mouth.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 23:43:23 in reply to Comment 90052

The rising tide in downtown Hamilton floated his boat is all. Demoing almost half the block DID NOT help.

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By Joanna St. Jacques (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 21:47:10

I can pledge $100 at this time should this become an option.
Great idea Graham. Not in Ward 2 but I do love the downtown and to see even something done to save some part of it would be great.
Hope to pledge more down the road if an when this becomes a viable option. I don't want to see this repeated every time a developer wants to do a tear down but if it helps our Council understand we are serious about preservation of significant buildings then let's do this.

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 22:53:00 in reply to Comment 90044

can i have a couple hundred bucks too? i might buy an old building and threaten to tear it down as well. seems like an easy way to make money

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 22:19:16

Interesting idea. I could kick in a few hundred if the plan involved public ownership. I think Sean is right though. Our elected reps need to follow through for a change, instead of compromising out of fear.

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 07:38:48

I think people might be stunned just how much money could be raised on RTH alone. I'd also consider donating upwards of a $1000 for this project; it's just a shame it would be going to Blanchard.

And yes, if you consider slapping stucco on these heritage buildings an improvement, then I'd have to agree with screencarp's appraisal of WB.

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By Skeptico (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 10:07:27

H+H is willing to pledge $1000. Ha, Mr. Grumpy Pants is just teasing. Pledge $100,000 if you want to get somenone's attention, Graham. Thank goodness for the likes of Blanchard who has vision as well as dollars to help the core.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2013 at 13:00:06

With regards to a three way partnership to save the Gore Park buildings mere moments from demolition, I believe this would be a perfect project to see if we can make an arrangement like this work for this and similar future projects.

Seeing as though citizens and the City would be pitching in the largest portion (or ideally all of funds) required to save these facades, I'd hope agreeing that they would be owned by the people would only make sense. As too should future upkeep costsbe the responsibility of the owners - us.

Although my ability to contribute to this project would be on a considerably lower scale than proposed dollar amounts listed in the comment section of this article, every little bit would surely help.

I've talked about the European-based crowd funding sites (one of the first of it's kind I believe), before but I'll reference it again as it relates to this proposal.

On Sellaband, the only crowd funding is of the musical kind. New albums, EP's, videos, or projects specifically for the funding of promoting these items.

Canadian musical talent Angie Arsenault, is a great example of home-grown talent that raised $50,000 to fund her first full-length album. She also completed her funding project for the production of this amazing video as well.

These artists use incentives to capture the intrigue of potential investors. Some invest purely for the love of music or helping out a fellow musician or local talent, some hope the albums they invest in have remarkable sales and they see return on their investment. Some want the autographed photo or t-shirt or their names in the credits of the video/sleeve of the albums.

Some artists use the same incentives, and some are quite creative in the ways they attract investors/build friendships. Projects that do the best, see artists who are heavily engaged with their fans. Most popular are also those that are very genuine in their appreciation and love for their fans who over time, sometimes even become friends. I still keep in contact with some artists I met through the site from all over the world. It's a great concept and it has worked well for countless artists.

Some of you country music fans might know of The Jefferson's. The very beautiful and talented Canadian country star, Lisa Brokup and her husband Paul Jefferson used Sellaband to produce one of their albums. They posted videos of songs in the works to YouTube addressing their fans and asking for their input.

There are so many ways we can interact with people to get them involved in projects such as this. We could offer a postcard for a $20 and below donation, with a photo of these Gore buildings on it, with some history of the buildings and this 'save' project on the back, thanking supporters for their donations. Maybe a small piece of the demolished part of the building is attached? Maybe signed by a local person? Maybe a local celebrity joins this cause?

Maybe at $1,000 your name goes on a plaque inside the building listing those that helped save the building. Maybe at $100,000 the buildings are named in that person's honor?

Some people will invest out of love for their city with no monetary or souvenir value placed on those donations. Some would like recognition or a keepsake but that they are willing to still donate, is great.

Council/Blanchard, what do we have to lose?

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-07-09 13:05:33

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 22:55:47 in reply to Comment 90090

again, this is private property. why reward someone for threatening demolition? if the city and taxpayers don't want the buildings torn down city council has all the tools it needs to protect them in designation and property standards. the city cant afford to and shouldnt have to bribe people to maintain their private property.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2013 at 14:41:38 in reply to Comment 90090

It's not really a 3 way split, since the taxpayers are paying for 2/3 under this model.

If a developer buys a building built in 1840, they should be aware of the costs to keep it up. If they did not do their research, that's their problem, not the taxpayer's.

Blanchard is free to sell these on the open market, but he refuses - out of greed. None of us owe him a cent.

If the city designated these properties, it would cost us nothing and the problem would be solved. He would either have to renovate according to the terms of the designation, or sell to someone else. He only paid 400,000 for those buildings, and had paying tenants for 10 years. He would not even take a loss upon their sale.

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-07-09 14:42:07

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2013 at 16:45:13 in reply to Comment 90093

Understandable but if we wait till D-Day which is seemingly any day, to see if Council is going to have a change of heart then likely nothing will change.

Obviously Graham realizes we shouldn't have to go to these measures but is (as others seem to be), more than willing to be involved in funding such a grass roots bid to save these buildings and I think this is a great gesture from the community as a whole. To ignore this request would just seem so contradictory to the city reaching out to us to help them understand how we want to be engaged.

Here it is. We are telling you. This is one way.

There are issues with our heritage designations (or lack there of) that need addressed but in the meantime, we will have to fight like dogs to save what we can ourselves. I started a Change.org petition to save Jimmy Thompson as well because we aren't truly discussing our options with these buildings. At least with JTMP, it's owned by us so perhaps we have more power to save it but sites owned by The Board or private developers leave us so helpless.

There is so much heritage at stake and it's all coming down fast. It's obvious citizens are feeling powerless as we watch our cities beautiful heritage crumble.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-07-09 16:46:37

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 15:30:26

This is an appropriate use for crowdfunding, assuming that the other parties are willing to agree.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2013 at 16:51:26

Received a stay of execution - http://www.thespec.com/news-story/388475...

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2013 at 17:39:35

I have no idea what comes next, except that it will not be the immediate demolition of the two buildings in question. That may happen yet, but at least we're still talking.

I can't blame people I know and respect for being skeptical. It's not as if we have a proven track record of success with these last minute campaigns to save heritage, except for perhaps the Lister. But that got complicated, and ugly, and expensive. But it's still here. And a beautiful element of our downtown. Jeff Feswick avoided this particular bend in the road by starting out with saving heritage as his goal. The changing face of Treble Hall is testament to his own belief system.

In this case, the road ahead is not likely to be so direct. Having said that, I'm open to hearing what the elements of the go forward plan are, and then deciding if it's a plan worthy of support.

What I'm most pleased about at this moment though, is that demolition of these buildings will not begin tomorrow. That's an awfully small victory, but it might be one that ends up lasting lifetimes.

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2013 at 23:00:45

its not worth saving these buildings if this is what we have to do to save them. think of the precedent it sets, for the love of pete!

why wouldn't every other property owner in the city line up with a building permit in hand and demand the same treatment?

designate the damn buildings and all these problems go away.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2013 at 12:39:22 in reply to Comment 90120

why wouldn't every other property owner in the city line up with a building permit in hand and demand the same treatment?

It's a desperate solution from citizens that would hopefully allow us to save these buildings now, with a push as discussed in new articles on this topic, to ensure we start going down our existing list/add to it, and start designating buildings.

I would contribute to a Indiegogo fund now. If we don't need the money raised in the end to save these buildings, perhaps this fund could become something like our own Citizen Heritage Future Fund. Maybe if we would have had the money when the Board of Ed building was for sale to buy it ourselves, we could have taken matters into our own hands as a citizen board of this fund, to allocate some/all of those funds to save Board or privately owned buildings.

Should we need this fund? Maybe not as yourself and others have questioned here, but why not have it handy for those desperate times. Board of Ed, Sanford Ave, Jimmy Thompson, etc. I'm tired of these decisions being made for us with such poor excuses. The Board shouldn't need some huge building anyway. Put board employees in all these empty schools and put decision makers right in the thick of education and help save walkable schools. Jimmy Thompson might be another as it silently disappears from renderings of the new stadium district. It was built for the 1930 British Empire Games in an area we are continuing that blocks sports heritage in building the new stadium on the same site. Why would you demolish a building in such great shape that recently had half million in code upgrades, with such a rich history in both the building and it's namesake, just because it's not accessible? What's the cost of making it so?

The biggest issue is the discussions don't really seem to be happening.

How about Delta? Are we going to be fighting the same fight when that goes empty and up for 'auction'?

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-07-10 12:46:18

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 09:51:23

As Sean pointed out, this would actually be an incredible deal for Blanchard: taxpayers pay 2/3 of the cost and he controls the process and reaps 100% of the eventual profits.

The only possible way this would make sense is if the citizens of Hamilton got a 2/3 share in the renovated buildings and Blanchard agreed to designation so the renovations must be done properly (and there is no last minute "oops it fell down").

I think a better solution would be for the City to designate the properties, and then grant Blanchard tax relief in lieu of the additional renovation costs as allowed under the Provincial heritage act. This is how it works most everywhere else: public support is limited to tax breaks, and sometimes low interest loans.

Although as far as I know Hamilton has not offered tax rebates on heritage properties, many (most?) other regions and municipalities do, e.g.

Niagara: "The tax reduction for the Heritage Property Program (under Municipal Act, 2001, section 365.2) provides local municipalities with a mechanism to provide tax reductions or refunds with respect to an "eligible" heritage property. Niagara Region will match tax reductions or refunds adopted by local municipalities under this section.",

Newmarket and Markham: "In 2004, Markham and Newmarket have both adopted programs which provide eligible heritage properties a reduction of 30% and 40% respectively. The reduction programs apply to both local municipal and education portions, effective January 1, 2004. For futher details, please contact your local Town of Newmarket or City of Markham offices.

If Hamilton is serious about encouraging heritage preservation they could offer a 40% tax discount like our neighbouring municipalities, instead of zero!

Here is the text of the Act:

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statute...

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2013 at 08:35:12

Just to be clear, my proposal was based on saving the facades of the two buildings, not on paying 2/3 of the cost of building restoration, or renovation. Therefore, not contributing anything for the construction of the buildings behind the facades of the two buildings. As I said, I'm not a fan of facadism, but I'll compromise under certain conditions.

Needless to say, I understand that there is only one taxpayer, including Mr. Blanchard personally, and Wilson/Blanchard corporately. If we want to try to insert a clause in a compromise agreement that says both the City and the citizens who contributed money to the saving of the facades get their money back upon the sale or transfer of ownership of the resulting development, then we could try for that. It wouldn't be the first time a "transfer of ownership" clause was in a contract.

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