Special Report: Heritage

Stay of Execution for Gore Buildings

Blanchard has the opportunity to incorporate the streetwall and lend the new development an instant, tangible connection to the community history. It will have more support, more buy-in, and ultimately, more economic success.

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 10, 2013

The demolition of 24 and 28 King Street East is on hold after a last-minute deal between property owner Wilson-Blanchard and downtown Councillor Jason Farr.

Fencing went up around 18-18 King Street East this week (Image Credit: Sean Burak)
Fencing went up around 18-18 King Street East this week (Image Credit: Sean Burak)

Farr's office issued a news release late yesterday afternoon stating that he met with David Blanchard and city staff from Planning and Economic Development and the City Manager's office.

At that meeting Councillor Farr requested and it was agreed that any demolition would be stopped on the 24, 28 King St. Gore Park buildings as a solution is sought to maintain the architectural and heritage character of the Gore properties. This interim step allows time for continued community input, as well as dialogue between Mr. Blanchard and city staff.

The city will also seek an independent peer review of the engineering report Wilson-Blanchard had conducted on the buildings.

Farr is quoted saying, "Gore Park is important to this entire community. I remain committed to finding a solution that allows us to maintain the architectural and heritage character of Gore Park while also trying to move forward with this exciting project."

Background

Wilson-Blanchard submitted a demolition permit application last December, just before the Christmas break. While some of the buildings predate Confederation and the City recognized their heritage value, the buildings were not designated and Council made it clear that they would not convene a special meeting to pass an intent to designate.

However, Farr and Councillor Brian McHattie met with Wilson-Blanchard in January and negotiated a compromise that would preserve 18-22 King Street, the so-called Kerr building that was designed by famous architect William Thomas and built in the 1840s.

Under the details of the compromise agreement, which Council passed, 24 and 28 King Street East would be demolished and the rear two-thirds of 18-22 would be removed. Wilson-Blanchard would submit a request to revoke the demolition permit for 18-22 after an engineering study and the City would add the building to its register of properties of interest.

However, that register confers no legal protection under the Ontario Heritage Act, and Wilson-Blanchard indicated they would preserve 18-22 "if possible" - i.e. no guarantee.

But over the past seven months, opposition to the planned demolitions has steadily grown as citizens have argued that old buildings can be restored successfully and profitably, Wilson-Blanchard doesn't actually have a redevelopment plan yet and the demolition would violate the City's Downtown Secondary Plan.

Demolition was going to begin this week, so the stay of execution is literally an eleventh-hour reprieve.

Willingness to Hit Pause

The buildings are by no means out of danger. However, this new agreement at least buys some time to try and find a way to save some or all of their heritage value.

Blanchard is to be commended for his willingness to hit pause on the demolition plans and work toward some kind of agreement that satisfies their business needs and protects Hamilton's built heritage.

Yes, it would be better if Blanchard intrinsically recognized the heritage value of his properties. And if the last seven months of anxiety, desperation and last-ditch efforts to save the buildings were not necessary. And yes, if Blanchard's recent commentary had been less disdainful.

But we need to keep in mind that Blanchard is doing this of his own volition. The buildings have no heritage designation and he already has the demolition permits.

He knows City Council is unlikely to lift a finger to designate them under the Heritage Act. To put it bluntly, Council does not value heritage.

As CBC Hamilton's Paul Wilson points out, Oakville Council has designated 50 buildings in the past five years while Hamilton Council has designated zero.

Hamilton's Council is substantially the same group of people who approved the demolition of the Lister building, which everyone is now proud of having saved. Go back and read that sentence again and let it sink in: Hamilton City Council didn't see the point of protecting the Lister from the wrecking ball.

Lister Block 1924, Restored 2011 (RTH file photo)
Lister Block 1924, Restored 2011 (RTH file photo)

The only reason the Lister was spared was that Councillor Brian McHattie asked the Province to intervene at the last minute, and then-Culture Minister Caroline DiCocco brokered a deal to save it.

But today, the same Provincial government refuses to intervene and exercise its own heritage preservation powers after Culture Minister Michael Chan was asked to step in.

Goodwill Worth Recognizing

In other words, the only reason these buildings are still alive is that Blanchard is allowing it. Notwithstanding everything else, that show of goodwill is worth recognizing.

Blanchard is not afraid of Council or the Province blocking his plans: rather, he seems to understand that the Gore buildings are more important to the community that he had anticipated.

After the January deal Farr and McHattie brokered to save 18-22 King Street East, Blanchard stated:

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 façade of 18-22 King Street East.

Today, the main thing staying Blanchard's hand seems to be a recognition that his own legacy as a responsible property developer is in jeopardy: it turns out people really do care about the Gore.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. To this day, Hamiltonians are still bitter about the 1980s council that undertook the "Gore Park Chainsaw Massacre" and chopped down all the trees.

As incomprehensibly short-sighted as that decision was, trees grow back. Buildings do not.

Best of a Bad Situation

Farr and McHattie have been criticized for not pushing harder at the time, but we must remember that the only leverage they had was to try and persuade Wilson-Blanchard to do the right thing. They knew Council would not support an intent to designate.

In a response to heritage advocate Diane Dent sent this past Sunday, Farr wrote:

[Y]ou made it clear to me that while saving all the properties would be a good thing, it was imperative every effort was made to save the Kerr Building(s) from demolition. I worked hard to do that following our conversation. ...

As I have in the past, I will once again ask the developer to consider, at the very least, holding off the demolition until the new development is ready to go. I will call Mr. Blanchard tomorrow morning first thing. This said, and with all respect, Council has voted on a compromise and it would remain as such from my perspective should the owners chose to continue as planned. In short, I would not be seeking a two/thirds majority to overturn my previous Council compromise motion.

The challenge now is to use the remaining time to find a permanent solution. That may entail Graham Crawford's proposal for a three-way partnership to finance the facade restoration. After all, heritage preservation is a positive externality that benefits society as a whole.

Heritage is an Investment

But ultimately, what will save the buildings is the developer coming to understand that heritage is an investment that pays real dividends, not a mere cost centre.

The economics of heritage property have been improving steadily for years and will continue to get better.

The real value proposition for a new development in the block bounded by James, King, Hughson and Main is a modern, tall, mixed-use development with a historic facade at street level. Think of the Vancouver model of a 3-4 storey streetwall with an elegant tower behind it; or the many developments in Toronto that incorporate a new construction with an historic facade.

People pay a premium for distinctiveness and personality. City centres are gaining value and popularity in part because they offer a deeply personal experience to people who live, work and play there.

Hamilton has made enough tragic mistakes in heritage preservation. We've lost enough buildings. We've destroyed enough of our proud history.

We have a unique opportunity to save an essential piece of not just Hamilton's but Canada's built heritage - there's a reason the Gore is on Heritage Canada's ten most endangered buildings list.

It would be a tragic missed opportunity to aim for the local maximum of a glass-and-steel new build on a flat canvas. Blanchard has the opportunity to incorporate the streetwall and lend the new development an instant, tangible connection to the community history. It will have more support, more buy-in, and ultimately, more economic success.

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. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Hmm...ilton (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 08:32:37

I'm still unsure what this "exciting project" is. Maybe it's just me but even when Councillor Farr is fighting on the side I agree with there is always this underlying shiftiness that seems to seep through. Perhaps I'm not giving the man enough credit but something just seems "off". I mean he's still miles ahead of that racist bbq twit when I consider who I'd want representing the ward I live and work in but I still question Farr's motivations. What happened to the "faith" he had in Blanchard's plan?

Don't get me wrong, I am truly thankful that he was able to achieve this stay of execution but just because he happened to act in a way I already supported doesn't make the slippery sensation go away though.

Is it just me?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 08:43:23 in reply to Comment 90128

Pretty sure it's just you. Farr seems like a good guy doing the best he can with what he's got.

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By Hmm...ilton (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 10:02:43 in reply to Comment 90130

Fair enough, still not sure what the exciting project is though.

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By Jer (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 08:52:31

If the building owner waits until a development plan is ready for the site before demolition that means they keep paying propery taxes based on having the structure on the site. I can see why they have an incentive to want to demolish it as soon as possible. However, I am glad that they have agreed to at least delay it for now and consider saving the one building.

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 16:46:41 in reply to Comment 90131

presumably all the tenants he kicked out would be covering property tax, no? why apply for a demolition permit during a time when council was unable to debate the matter. blanchard wanted to get these buildings down while he could. and now he is brokering a sweetheart deal from the city.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 13:09:41 in reply to Comment 90131

You said it. This is an issue with the city's property tax valuations - it doesn't actually make sense that taxation would be reduced for property owners who replace buildings with empty lots in the downtown core. We want structures, not empty space.

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By Core-b (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 09:40:07

I'm not a heritage advocate but since the Lister, I definitely look at these things differently. In defense of council, maybe they are like me. I have difficulty visualizing. A number of years ago my son was all excited about a house he was considering buying and had me come and look at it. I was shocked at what I saw. It was a 100 plus year old multi level house that housed multiple dirty, messy tenants and smelled of cat urine and other indescribable odors. I thought he'd lost his mind and despite my concerns, he made the purchase. After quite a bit of work he turned it into a beautiful residence. As difficult as it is for me, I think I would like to see the old facade worked into whatever the future development is. Thank you Lister.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 09:53:26 in reply to Comment 90132

Your story is an abject lesson in why people who have 'difficulty visualizing' should never be in a position to decide the future of heritage buildings, or really any old, otherwise perfectly sound building that has been neglected. If only Blanchard and council had your humility and self-awareness. You'd think council would have learned the same lesson from Lister as you clearly have.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2013 at 09:51:30 in reply to Comment 90132

Even ignoring the heritage issue, Blanchard still shouldn't be able to tear down buildings located in a place that's so critical to the city's image and economic viability without a plan in place to replace them. Gore Park is the central hub of the city - where the buses meet, where our biggest civic sculptures exist, where the main offices of several of Hamilton's prominent companies keep their main offices.

Leaving a gaping vacant lot there isn't acceptable, not matter what was torn down.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 10:23:44

But ultimately, what will save the buildings is the developer coming to understand that heritage is an investment that pays real dividends, not a mere cost centre.

Judging by his remarks in the Spec this morning, this is unlikely to happen any time soon:

"It has to be for something useful. I can tell you that the facades may be useful, but I'm not sure how useful," he said. "It's going to cost so much money — it's just exorbitant. I just don't understand why people would waste money on this — though I know people want to."

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By jimh (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 11:39:58

Gore park is a dead zone. Especially that side since the busses moved. I guess the heritage veggy fanatics win.... keeping it a dead zone is what they want.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2013 at 12:51:04 in reply to Comment 90143

Gore park is a dead zone

Is that so?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2013 at 12:38:04 in reply to Comment 90143

Tell me, if the buildings were replaced with a fence and a big open eyesore of a vacant lot for a few years while Blanchard tries to figure out a plan... would you consider that more or less of a dead zone?

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By BeHappyAndCarryOn (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 14:37:09

"Brinkmanship is the ostensible escalation of threats in order to achieve one's aims."

Brinkmanship at the Gore:

WHY?

Primary Aim: To extract a much taller building/s on Main/James for any future development.
Secondary Aim: To extract any extras or freebies over and above the already available facade restoration grant, and the residential conversion loans in exchange for the heroic saving of the four buildings on King.

Supplementary case for financial help for restoration, thru year long charade: You don't understand, the cost of restoring such buildings or the facade is super, super high! (When in fact this is not the case at all).

With all the attention this has got the owners, they will then easily package the empty lots on Main/James and sell it with the soon to be expected 'exciting news' (i.e. written assurance from the city that they can build 30-40 floors and beyond. Current zoning allows 22 meters heights which is only around 7 to 8 floors).

PRIME BENEFICIARIES OF THIS CHARADE:

1) Property Owners, who now do not have to go thru expensive zoning/variance process, as things will be simply pre-zoned in exchange for saving the facades. They get to build super high on Main/James, and get money + concessions from city to keep the buildings on King.

2) Councillor Farr, who stands to look like a just-in-time hero for 2014. He is already being acknowledged as the guy who saved the day twice. Remember he showed up at the last possible minute to save two of the four buildings around Christmas, and now again he surfaces to prevent the demolition even after the fence went up.*

COST OF CHARADE:

1) Cost of application for demolition permit: $35
2) Cost of 2 renderings: $500 (discounted further by designer in anticipation of future work)
3) Cost of renting chain link fence: $3000
4) Cost of engineering report (i.e. Building condition study): $4000
5) Cost of independent review of report: $4000-$10,000 (which will have to be paid by city tax payers since Clr Farr and not the owners, has asked for this*).

COST OF MEDIA BUZZ: Free

LOSS OF RENTAL INCOME FROM EVICTIONS: Negligible. As any loss is promptly offset by an application for commercial vacancy tax reduction, which has to have been filed before February deadline. Keeping the above units commercial and vacant suits the owner as they enjoy tax breaks. Were the above units promptly converted to residential, back when the buildings were purchased, they would not have been able to leverage them for the huge windfall that awaits them now, as all the converted live/work loft units on upper floors facing the Gore would have been rented out very fast, and there would be no leverage left for causing this brinkmanship.

Any one who was serious about demolition and rebuilding these buildings would have gotten on with the act of tearing them down with the permit in hand and a plan drawn up for the new buildings.

Besides, take a close look at the wimpy fence put up with a lane open to walk by the buildings. Do you really think this is what is put up when buildings really come down?

Brinkmanship at the Gore was the only option left as there were no real plans for rebuilding, just a desire to make money by any means necessary via parceling the block and adding value by way of the now anticipated permission from the city to build much higher than what was zoned.

This has just been a charade from the beginning for the owner with no vision, with the happy addition of a compliant councillor in whose laps fell this golden opportunity for political opportunism. Now:

A) The owner gets to extract favours for super tall buildings on Main and James, and possibly some free money from the city to keep the older buildings on Gore.

B) The Councillor gets to look like a super hero for the coming election. Remember, he has already been dishing out tons of free fishing rods and skates to poor kids. Now, his big Heritage save will put him over the top as far as heroic deeds are concerned.

-----
Happy Pill in Hamilton:

Of course, now that all the buildings are almost saved (but not sure yet!), by the 'Voice of the People' as Clr Farr says***, We the people of Hamilton, will only be too eager to say: "Just Be Happy And Carry On", our heritage was saved by civic activism and the councillor's leadership.

You really cannot fight greed, and political charades, such things are farr too sophisticated and always win in the end. We just have to learn to 'be happy and carry on' like we mean it.

Be Happy And Carry On!

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* Farr told The Spectator. "At this point, I can say that there won't be a demolition in the imminent future. We're working on a solution."

** Farr has also requested an independent peer review of Blanchard's engineering report of the properties "as an immediate next step."

***Farr credited the community's effort with helping to delay any potential demolition.


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By BeHappyAndCarryOn (anonymous) | Posted July 19, 2013 at 23:20:06 in reply to Comment 90152

Brinkmanship at the Gore: ACT II

Coucillor rushes back from holiday to once again save Heritage:
http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/story/2013/07/19/hamilton-gore-park-demolition.html

Cost of Props for the day: $1500

Leverage: 10 more floors

Impact: Huge win for Councillor and developer

Cause given: Miscommunication between city staff and developer ;)
between the company and city staff, said Farr."

We the people of Hamilton, eagerly say: Phew!! close call! our heritage was once again saved by the councillor's leadership.

--------------

* "The appearance of construction fencing and demolition equipment on Friday morning came a week and a half after Farr announced the city had come to a compromise that would stave off demolition on the two properties"

* "However, Councillors Jason Farr and Brian McHattie pulled together a hurried meeting with city officials and representatives from Wilson Blanchard, the company that owns the buildings, on Friday afternoon to discuss the issue.

* "The development group has agreed to move the bulldozer from the site and not move forward with any exterior demolition," said Jason Farr, councillor for Ward 2.

* "Wilson Blanchard's move to tear down the building was the result of "a miscommunication"



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By BeHappyAndCarryOn (anonymous) | Posted July 19, 2013 at 23:39:36 in reply to Comment 90313

The CBC story titled "Demolition on Gore Park buildings halted":
http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/story/2013/07/19/hamilton-gore-park-demolition.html

was filed at 10.14 AM ET by:

"CBC News Posted: Jul 19, 2013 10:14 AM ET" (with no author mentioned!!)


Yet the story goes on to state the meeting between Clr Farr and Developers took place only in the afternoon of Friday:

"However, Councillors Jason Farr and Brian McHattie pulled together a hurried meeting with city officials and representatives from Wilson Blanchard, the company that owns the buildings, on Friday afternoon to discuss the issue.

"The development group has agreed to move the bulldozer from the site and not move forward with any exterior demolition," said Jason Farr, councillor for Ward 2.

---------------

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By Jay Robb (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 15:05:15

So if you were David Blanchard, what would you be asking for from the councillor & the city in return for saving the facades or the buildings? Or handing over the keys and walking away from the buildings altogether?

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By Jay Mohawk (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 15:13:15 in reply to Comment 90154

How come Jay Robb doesn't sign off, "Official Voice Of Mohawk College?"

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By Jay Robb (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 17:15:21 in reply to Comment 90156

Hey Jay:

Your honorary diploma's in the mail. I would've gotten it framed if you'd also pointed out that I've reviewed business books for the Spec since 1999. And that I wasn't born and raised in Hamilton.

I didn't ask the question using my official Mohawk College voice because I save that voice for when I'm singing the praises of our students, staff & supporters.

While you prove that using a fake name helps clears up confusion, I'm not a fan of anonymity and I've always put my name to what I post. I think we'd see healthier debate and discussion online & off if we signed off on our comments, questions and opinions.

I also tend to ignore anonymous posts, although for you I made an exception because I thought Jay Mohawk was a good try.

On the issue at hand, I believe a revitalized Gore Park could and should be Hamilton's front porch. The core badly needs a public space where all us (including suburbanites) can get together for community-building events and celebrations.

And I also believe that if the demand's there for spaces and places in renovated and restored heritage buildings downtown, developers will rush in to meet the demand, supply the properties and deservedly earn a healthy profit.

Cheers,

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By unjay (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2013 at 16:19:54 in reply to Comment 90163

If you don't 'like' anonymous posts, complain to RTH's parent, Ryan. That's how it is on RTH, though bully for you unanonymous. Many find it odd that if are a fulltime pmt Mohawk employee that you HAVEN'T signed your Spectator book things with who you are. Embarrassed about being a paid flack?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 17:27:09 in reply to Comment 90163

The demand is there, but it's being stymied by speculators like Blanchard, and their enablers on council.

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By wha (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 16:23:41 in reply to Comment 90156

Um maybe because he's allowed to have his own personal opinions? When you post a comment do you announce who you work for or are your opinions your own?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 15:11:24 in reply to Comment 90154

If only he would walk away. That would solve everything. We're in the unfortunate place we're in because he refuses to sell.

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By BeHappyAndCarryOn (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 15:21:30

Jay Robb: If I were David, "handing over the key was never an option with me. I did not parcel this block to lose. I play to win, and as you know, I already have all the clout and support in this city to win. Have you not seen the consistently good press I have got since 2000. I simply cannot do any wrong."

"What I would be asking from the councillors & the city in return for sparing those buildings on Gore is very simple. At least 30 to 40 floors of pre-zoning on the vacant lots facing Main and James, and at least $2 million to save the facades of those rotting, old buildings on Gore."

"Without these two elements there is no deal. You know the fence has already come up, and I may not be able to hold on much longer. All of this is costing me a great deal of money."

"(PS: In case somebody bring this up, I purposely did not put up a fence at the rear of thee buildings, from where I plan to start demolishing, just because, I cannot lose any revenue from all that parking while this high stakes poker game plays out)."

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By BeHappyAndCarryOn (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 15:40:24

Jay Robb,

"It would cost me $300,000 a piece to tear these two buildings down. Now why would I go and spend such a lot of my money, when I have no plans to rebuild?"

"Can't you see these buildings are more valuable to me as they stand now, then torn down? The mere threat of tearing them down is opening up this immense windfall. Come to think of it, now that you brought it up, I may ask for 60 floors in the rear lots, 30-40 floors just does not cut it anymore."

"I don't even know why I am sharing my secrets with you so openly. I guess I am getting emboldened with all the progress we have made with Clr. Farr and the 'community' which loves me so much now. I must stop here."

David.

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By jkash (anonymous) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 17:46:30

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

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

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By Connie (registered) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 12:57:37 in reply to Comment 90166

You mean like "a Target store ... or whatever" ? Lol

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 10, 2013 at 22:29:09 in reply to Comment 90166

you mean like - York St - Jackson Square - Copps - Convention Centre - City Hall - Eaton Centre

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2013 at 18:44:59 in reply to Comment 90166

THERE IS NO DEVELOPMENT!

This is one of a long history of plans to create an empty lot in hopes of a development SOMEDAY.

If you think that the only thing holding Hamilton back from new development is a lack of cleared lots, you haven't been downtown since the forties.

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By screencarp (registered) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 00:23:24

I'm looking forward to seeing the engineering assessment. If we're paying for it so we're going to get to read it right? I suspect some might be surprised what it says. I have personal experience with these buildings, and they're a lot worse than folks on this site think. I'd also love to hear from Mr. Premi who had his office on the second floor of 28 King for a while.

This is such an important block, it needs to be done right and no-one is sharing any sort of plan. Understandably, that adds to the community anxiety. My hope is for a speedy resolution so we don't end up with a "dead" block for too long. Sadly, it seems like poor Gore is cursed with one thing after another. Perhaps it's the horrors of the secret bathrooms buried beneath it.

I have a question. If James N. is Hamilton's "arts" district, is this Hamilton's "financial" district? Should that inform the architectural choices we make? A financial institution of some sort could be the big money anchor tenant the owners claim to need, and still leave room for patio's, coffee shops and boutiques along the Gore. It's also an awesome feel good moment for someone with deep pockets to preserve the building that are there and integrate them into what that block needs. I hear bankers eat that shit up and have lots of money (but tip poorly). Put the tower (and we know they want a big tall tower) back in the centre of the block and integrate it into the street front Close off the street permanently and leave the chess board. In fact, make more chess boards, spots for food trucks, bike racks, tables and benches. Maintain and clean the fountain. Maybe we can finally get something going on with the poor Connaught a block away.

TLDR; The Gore is important. Let's not fuck this up.

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By squeak (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 01:07:48 in reply to Comment 90169

Anonymous concern troll is concerned!

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 01:10:26 in reply to Comment 90170

Thank you anonymous concern troll for your concern.

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By squeak (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 15:45:06 in reply to Comment 90171

Anonymous concern troll thinks only anonymous concern troll should be anonymous! and concerned!

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By Connie (registered) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 13:25:43

" Yes, it would be better if Blanchard intrinsically recognized the heritage value of his properties. And if the last seven months of anxiety, desperation and last-ditch efforts to save the buildings were not necessary. And yes, if Blanchard's recent commentary had been less disdainful."

Agreed ... It would be nice if Wilson-Blanchard had some "ability to visualize" the profit potential of upscale heritage lofts in the Gore, instead of threatening us with demolition and "a Target store ... or whatever".

City Council has some work to do to amend and create laws to prevent such predatory developers from benefiting financially by acquiring historic properties and allowing them to deteriorate, then emptying them of tenants and blackmailing taxpayers with threats of demolition.

Dave Blanchard may have agreed to delay demolition, but he's still playing the extortion game, crying 'poor' and lacking ability to make the project profitable. If it's so unprofitable, then he should be selling the properties off at bargain basement prices. There are developers who would love to have the opportunity that Blanchard so disdains.

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By DowntownAdvocate (registered) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 15:07:05

How do you know he hasn't already visualized the profits of residential use, just because he hasn't presented them to YOU. Everyone thinks because these buildings have stood for over 100 years that they are perfectly stable, perhaps you should get your own engineering report and just find out the facts before jumping to conclusions. Not every building that is considered a heritage age are built on the same type of foundations. I have toured the buildings a few years back and saw first hand the state of the buildings. Blanchard isn't the type of developer to build a property up half-assed just to get it done, it needs to be done right and if that means they need to come down (or mostly down) to make it happen then so be it. I am just surprised it has taken this long for it to happen.

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By Gored (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 15:38:57 in reply to Comment 90189

You just trotted out every lame excuse speculators give for why they should demolish old buildings. They said the same things anout Sandyford. About the Pigott. About the Lister. About every building that was saved after a fight. And every building thst wasn't. Enough is enough.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted July 12, 2013 at 01:38:18 in reply to Comment 90191

Well said, gored.

Enough buildings lost.

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By Nails (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2013 at 20:45:04

Here is my way of determining if it's worth keeping. These criteria are all worth a points and if you get 3.5 or more points it should be preserved. If it gets 3, then it gets an extra month before a demo permit is issued. Any less, no special protection given.

Older then 1960 + 1, Older then 1900 +1, meets age criteria but significant changes have been made to the building -0.5, Possesses unique unlikely to be duplicated arcitectural features +1, has a claim of historical significance +1, address is part of continous strucutre of the same height that possesses at least four addresses +1 with +0.5 for every four addresses connected (Think James St N), exceeds four floors +1 with +1 for every five floors thereafter, can be built up to at least 4 floors without a major strucutral overhaul +0.5, address is part of a well known area (Hess Village, Old Ancaster, Downtown Dundas, James St N) +1, building is in a lesser known but popular area (Ottawa St, Beach Rd, Augusta) +0.5. Building is not cost effective to be repaired -1, Developer has proof of a suitable new development and can show he has secured finanacing -

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By BeHappyAndCarryOn (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2013 at 13:53:10

Dear Clr Jason Farr:

It is very clear that these buildings are not coming down, so enough already with all these fencing games.

We thank you for continuing the public dialogue between Mr. Blanchard, city staff and yourself behind closed doors, and eagerly await the 'surprise' announcement of a happy settlement of some free money and super high towers in the rear. In the interim the least you and the city can do is remove the godforsaken 'wimpy' fence which is currently only protecting a few trees and lampposts.

This is just so the people of Hamilton who pay taxes are able to freely enjoy the pedestrianized version of Gore Park through the summer.

David knows very well that he can erect this flimsy prop anytime your public dialogue stalls, so why not convince him to build some community goodwill while you'll continue talking about the 'surprise' gift to him from the city.

Using the removal of the fence as a bargaining chip now will make you and David look good, and the people happy. It is an overall win-win-win for all, so please oblige and open up Gore Park this summer.

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By Connie (registered) | Posted July 13, 2013 at 03:49:42

Yes and put tenants back in the restaurants and stores!

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