Downtown Bureau

20 Jackson Street West Slated for Demolition

Wilson-Blanchard has submitted a demolition permit request for 20 Jackson Street West.

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 11, 2013

After months of rumours about the possible demolition of 20 Jackson Street West, we now have confirmation that a demolition permit has been submitted to the City for the commercial building on Jackson just east of MacNab.

Fencing around 20 Jackson Street West (Image Credit: Eric McGuinness)
Fencing around 20 Jackson Street West (Image Credit: Eric McGuinness)

According to Ed VanderWindt, chief building official for the City of Hamilton, the building is owned by Wilson-Blanchard and a demolition permit application was submitted to the city. "In speaking with the Building Engineer we do not have any of the required service disconnect forms yet. Robert Miles told the inspector today that the forms will be submitted next week."

Because the building is commercial rather than residential in use and is not designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, the City has no recourse to deny a demolition permit.

Earlier this summer, the tenants of 20 Jackson were evacuated from the building, including the coffee shop on the main floor. A mobile decontamination unit has been removing asbestos from the building since late August, work that does not require a permit from the city.

Mobile decontamination unit at 20 Jackson Street West (Image Credit: Eric McGuinness)
Mobile decontamination unit at 20 Jackson Street West (Image Credit: Eric McGuinness)

It is not yet clear what, if anything, the property owner has planned for the spot after the building is demolished. According to VanderWindt, "There has been no submission for anything else on the property."

The persistent rumour is that it is to be used for parking. Back in May, Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr wrote, "They would never be able to put a surface parking spot there. As you know, we have a moratorium. I would never endorse a surface lot if they asked for an exemption."

A multi-level parking structure may be a different story. Last year, Council approved a downtown parking study update, but the study has not yet been presented to Council. According to Farr, "We will likely require a parking structure when the Parking review comes back, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. That will likely be in July."

It is difficult to comprehend how a review of parking in downtown Hamilton could possibly conclude that there is a need for new parking structures, when so much of downtown (an area bounded by Cannon, Wellington, Hunter and Queen Streets) continues to remain as undeveloped surface parking and vacant lots.

According to an earlier parking review conducted for the Downtown Transportation Master Plan Five Year Review [PDF] in 2008, "The recommendations of this review are generally consistent with the directions set out in the 2001 DTMP, including a recommendation that lower parking standards be applied across the Downtown." It emphasized providing business parking over employee parking, and discouraged long-term parking in favour of short-term parking.

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.

42 Comments

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2013 at 12:04:18

Perhaps the plan is to build a multi-level structure here in tandem with the reclaiming of a surface-level lot into a useful building? Maybe? I can dream can't I?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 12:44:14

And there is already a surface parking lot right next to the building ... why do we need yet another vacant lot?

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-09-11 12:46:05

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By rednic (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 12:58:24

I don't understand the math of tearing down a building to build a parking lot, in a city with more parking lot space than office space. At some point in the not to distant future the only jobs in downtown hamilton will be parking lot attendant and municipal worker, no doubt that problem will be solved by tearing down city hall and rebuilding on the mountain.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2013 at 13:09:42

Why is it that we have to work so hard in this city just to fight to keep people from making it worse? I'd much rather spend the energy on making it better.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 14:11:34 in reply to Comment 92025

Because for the people who can make it worse there is no profit in making it better, although I think Blanchard will find this out not to be the case.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 13:42:49 in reply to Comment 92025

That is an awesome statement.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 13:20:44

Some one at City Hall is dead set on locking down the high score on Reverse Tetris.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 13:33:59

Might that be a good location for a multi-level parking structure to service the Hunter Street GO station as well as downtown? Another surface lot - no way, that would be another cancerous lesion on the downtown landscape. If it must be parking at least make it high density.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 13:41:41

You'd think they would deal with the south side of the Gore before stirring up another hornets nest.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2013 at 14:06:03 in reply to Comment 92028

perhaps it's all a distractions game. thin out the other side and wear them out.

if city hall had any clue how to write bylaws to prevent this, we could all be busy improving hamilton instead of fighting speculators every 30 seconds

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By Gored (anonymous) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 14:52:23

Wilson Blanchard. Why am I not surprised.

This city.

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By Sara (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 14:52:24

Wilson-Blanchard is planning to build on parking lot next to that building: http://renewhamilton.ca/portfolio/king-a...

So looks like we'll be losing not gaining surface parking, if city rules are applied as htey should be.

Comments about a parking structure make sense. I can't see them not replacing the parking they'd be losing. But with competition from other cheap parking I cna't see how they'd make money on a parking structure.

Or maybe they're planning a sawp deal with city saying they are not adding to surface parking, just moving it over a few metres or so. Will be tricky for city to deal with that request.

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By Selway (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 16:24:30 in reply to Comment 92035

Thanks for this information Sara. It's hard to judge this without knowing what the owner's intentions are. It might be helpful also to find the money. How is Mr Blanchard financing his downtown demolition campaign? Is there a bank involved? Or does he have private lenders? Is there a lawyer in the house?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 16:02:42 in reply to Comment 92035

Well, if staff and Council actually stand behind their by-laws it should be easy to deny such a request

"Within any Downtown Zone, no new surface parking lots shall be permitted except where the parking is accessory to the main use on the same lot."

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/83F7...

It doesn't say "no net new surface parking" and the two lots are clearly separate.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 15:24:15

I wonder if this is at all related to the old BMO building (now occupied by Gowlings law firm). I believe Wilson Blanchard manages that building as well.

For a number of years Gowlings has wanted more parking, but through their negotiations with the neighbouring surface lot they have never been able to get more than one row of dedicated parking immediately beside the building (which the lawyers use).

If Wilson Blancahrd builds a multi-level parking structure here, it is likely Gowlings and their employees (approx 100 total) will be the main users. They will have all the parking they need - including probably reserved spaces, and all through their existing management company.

Leaving the prospects for the small surface lot immediately beside the old BMO building decidedly less rosy.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2013 at 16:00:30

If we had better transit, better zoning, and most importantly a council who understood how cities work, many of these 100 employees would choose to live within walking distance of work.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 22:43:28 in reply to Comment 92037

If we had modern desirable housing close by then many of those 100 employees might live within walking distance. Maybe if they demolished 20-28 King St. E. and built modern luxury, or at least upscale, desirable condos there it would be a good start.

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By jorvay (registered) | Posted September 12, 2013 at 10:45:22 in reply to Comment 92051

My house is near by (10-minute walk). It's 100-years old, but has been fully modernized inside. The biggest difference between my house and a new one is that mine will still be standing long after the new one has fallen to pieces. The same goes for every house on my street.

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By ba-ZING! (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2013 at 11:42:27 in reply to Comment 92086

...assuming blanchard doesn't buy them

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 12, 2013 at 09:26:12 in reply to Comment 92051

Ever heard of the upscale Piggott building just around the corner, for example?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2013 at 10:27:10 in reply to Comment 92083

That's funny because at least one of the lawyers actually lived in that building.

A number of them lived in the Locke/Aberdeen area, but they were really spread out all over.

The support staff were similarly spread out, some coming from Toronto if I recall correctly.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 21:03:18 in reply to Comment 92037

Such a speculative nothing statement.

Why Sean, when you are clearly capable of so much more, do you fall into the hyperbole fuelled nothingness so much local discussion inhabits?

Be a scalpel, not a tar brush.

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By hamlet (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2013 at 08:25:32 in reply to Comment 92048

protest much?

are you a councilor? does this offend you? maybe you are one of the few on council who understands how cities work? in which case your job is to learn the others up. the entire city depends on it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 16:04:09

FINALLY, a parking lot downtown! I've been wondering when this day would come!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2013 at 16:09:35 in reply to Comment 92039

aweosme

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By movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 16:43:34

This building has an interesting history, which now will be lost forever.

From the architect's wife: "Clarke's firm in the 60's was Munro-Ploen. This building was an old brick warehouse, which was the first official urban renewal project in Hamilton. It was stripped down to the structural frame, one new floor added, and evolved into an office building."

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted September 12, 2013 at 09:07:26 in reply to Comment 92045

Interesting tid-bit. Cheers for that.

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By kathy (registered) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 17:45:55

I was not surprised at all when I saw the developers name.

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By Yeah okay (anonymous) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 21:14:03

Give it up Kiely and your hate-jealously of Sean.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted September 11, 2013 at 23:22:52

Anyone have a drainage ditch that needs pimping out?

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By Schoolmaster (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2013 at 05:58:44

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

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By Frankenrogers (registered) | Posted September 12, 2013 at 15:49:16

I find it funny that there is a "Budget" asbestos removal.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2013 at 09:25:31

Isn't 20 Jackson located in the 'Central Area'? Why is Blanchard or Vranich or other downtown 'developers', not required to submit building permits within a certain timeframe?

The owner of this property is proposing to demolish the existing single family dwelling and has not indicated the proposed use of the property upon the demolition. As of this date a building permit application has not been submitted to replace the dwelling.

This property is not located in the “Central Area” as defined in City Council resolution passed on July 26, 1994 regarding demolition control and therefore is not subject to special conditions regarding demolition control that would have required a building permit to be issued for a replacement dwelling on the property and for reconstruction within a specific time frame. This land is in the Crown Point West neighbourhood and is located in Ward 3. Please see attached location map shown as Appendix A to Report PED07216.

Taken from this City report that I have included as a link within this document where I question a property on my street corner where a house used to be (one that needed to be removed mind you), and it is now used for large truck/trailer parking and half of it now a used car lot.

Should owners be allowed to sit on these properties within important areas of our city that we want to transform, with no plan as to what they want to do with these properties except make some interim cash by renting the space for parking?

Comment edited by lawrence on 2013-09-13 09:31:10

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:06:20 in reply to Comment 92122

I wonder where we can find the "City Council resolution passed on July 26, 1994 regarding demolition control"?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:09:15 in reply to Comment 92126

More info - the demolition control is for "Dwelling units" only: http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/8A71...

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:18:06 in reply to Comment 92127

Thanks for that Sean. Interesting.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2013 at 10:14:14 in reply to Comment 92127

The wording of the link I just posted is interesting. It implies to me that council has the power to create a bylaw that puts a moratorium on demolitions without having to go through historical designation processes per-address.

If this is the case, we could be recognizing that the existence of buildings is economically important as a separate consideration from heritage value. In other words, we could have a bylaw that says you can't demolish buildings downtown. We have the power... why don't we use it?

WHEREAS

Section 33 of The Planning Act, provides that a municipality may by By-law designate any area within the municipality wherein a By-law prescribing standards of maintenance and occupancy is in force as an area of demolition control;

AND WHEREAS

the City of Hamilton is the lawful successor to the former Municipalities identified in Section 1.7 of By-law 05-200;

AND WHEREAS

it was desirable to enact Demolition Control of residential properties for the City;

AND WHEREAS

Property Standards By-law No. 03-117, prescribing standards of maintenance and occupancy was enacted on the 14th day of May, 2003 and is in force in the City of Hamilton;

NOW THEREFORE

the Council of the City of Hamilton enacts as follows:

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-09-13 10:17:21

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By j (registered) | Posted September 13, 2013 at 19:41:08

even under demolition control you must issue a demo permit if a building permit has been issued and the new building is substantially completed within 2 years

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 17, 2013 at 12:52:52 in reply to Comment 92141

But there are all sorts of lots downtown that have remained vacant for far longer than two years ... why isn't that part of the deal being enforced?

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By YCDAIH (anonymous) | Posted September 25, 2013 at 20:46:54

Two doors down from James Street Baptist.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 25, 2013 at 21:16:46 in reply to Comment 92611

RTH report on the James Street Baptist demolition permit request will be up shortly.

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By YCDAIH (anonymous) | Posted September 25, 2013 at 21:30:52 in reply to Comment 92612

Thanks for the heads-up.

Spare a watchful eye for the Tivoli. Would hate to find out this is contagious.

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