Special Report: Heritage

Stinson Lofts Another Great Example of Adaptive Reuse

Hamilton's finite stock of heritage and historic buildings offers a powerful draw to thousands of individuals who are looking for history and uniqueness.

By Chris Erskine
Published November 22, 2013

On Tuesday, the Hamilton Spectator reported that the Stinson lofts will soon be ready to move in.

The moving trucks will be pulling up to the Stinson Lofts any day now and already developer Harry Stinson has his sights set on buying another historic Hamilton school.

The article shows that individuals and developers are starting to realize the great value that can be found in heritage properties.

Some have argued that saving old buildings is a waste of money, but for those with vision and desire to create something special, Hamilton's built heritage provides a great opportunity to make money by tapping into people's need for a richer life.

In an age of global mass production, history and uniqueness are qualities that people want to consume as a way of defining their identities. These individuals appreciate the history, the character, and the human scale of older buildings.

As the Golden Horseshoe turns into single, integrated region, cities become more like large neighbourhoods than independent regions.

 

Hamilton's finite stock of heritage and historic buildings offers a powerful draw to thousands of individuals who are looking for something different. While many small towns surrounding Toronto have turned into large urbanized cities, few have the history or urban core like Hamilton.

In such a vast region as the Golden Horseshoe, Hamilton's built heritage offers a competitive advantage that few communities can challenge.

Individuals and developers will take advantage of this resource in the coming years, if it is still available.

The real question is whether civic leaders will protect heritage and historic buildings for those who wish to build a stronger, a more sustainable, and ultimately a more profitable community.

Chris Erskine is a labour and community activist. He is also a print artist, exploring historic landscapes and building themes using lino-cut and woodblock printing methods. You can visit his website.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 22, 2013 at 09:57:08

In such a vast region as the Golden Horseshoe, Hamilton's built heritage offers a competitive advantage that few communities can challenge.

This. I recently presented at city council, and when councillors were discussing the Strathcona transportation plan, they took aim at the plans to somewhat improve Main St. Ferguson said "Main St is our number 1 competitive advantage OVER Toronto".
There' so much wrong with that statement, it's mind-boggling, but the biggest error is that thinking the Main St freeway is looked at as an advantage over vibrant, active, urban streets. Our urbanism is absolutely our number 1 competitive advantage over the sprawling GTA. It's why so many ex-TO folks move to lower Hamilton.
After my presentation, Terry Whitehead asked me my opinion as to how Strathcona had seen the highest home price increase in the entire city over the past decade - 89%. I told them it's due to the desire for urban living and walkability to great parks, downtown retail, markets, schools, old narrow streets etc..... you could see many councillors have a bit of a 'ah-a' moment when seeing the stats and the photos of Strathcona's streets. I told them that Main, York and King are the biggest hindrances and obstacles to truly booming urban neighbourhoods taking shape. Main St is a massive hindrance, not an advantage. Stinson lofts, like Strathcona's streets, show how much demand there is for great, urban living in reclaimed, historic spaces.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2013 at 10:34:36 in reply to Comment 95064

"Stinson lofts, like Strathcona's streets, show how much demand there is for great, urban living in reclaimed, historic spaces."

There always has been. Population figures attest to that.

It's not just Strathcona, of course. The broader Hamilton Centre submarket saw average prices go from 104K to 167K and the number of on-market units drop by 25% between 2003 and 2012.

http://www.rahb.ca/press/2013/forecast/charts/#HC

Such increases are, of course, relative. If a property has been traditionally undervalued from a dollars-and-cents standpoint, the market correction will inevitably be larger: 89% increase on a 100K house is a different feat than 89% increase on a 200K+ house.

It is still noteworthy, of course, and considerably higher than the movement within the Hamilton Centre submarket. All of the factors mentioned doubtless play a role in that.

There's also the matter of By-Law 01-143, the moratorium on retirement homes/emergency shelters/RCFs/correctional facilities in most of the Durand, virtually all of Stinson and all of St. Clair, in place since the summer of 2001.

http://samnabi.com/content/5-research/2-radial-separation/Evaluating-Radial-Separation-Distances-Public.pdf

That could impact property values over the past decade.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2013 at 10:52:31 in reply to Comment 95115

Strathcona is a beautiful neighbourhood, of course.

And there's no denying the pernicious effects of Main/King/York -- in their current form. They could become assets yet.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 23, 2013 at 15:50:53 in reply to Comment 95116

One can hope. Well, actually I have no hope for Main. York is to get protected bike lanes each way in place of the 3rd lane sometime soon, and King has gobs of potential being squandered by city hall who only view it as a freeway that can save 60 seconds for their trip back home out of the city.

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By Dm (anonymous) | Posted November 22, 2013 at 10:34:22

Are the stats and photos you presented available?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 22, 2013 at 10:46:03 in reply to Comment 95065

some of the photos can be seen here: https://raisethehammer.org/article/1955/...

some of the stats discussed can be found here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/n...

Zone 10 on that map is Strathcona.

Unfortunately I can't load my presentation here. The above links at least provide some context to some of the presentation.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted November 23, 2013 at 02:12:10

It seems some get assistance and others flounder. Major money is at the root of it.

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