Downtown Bureau

Downtown Update

Jason rounds up the good, the better, and the missed opportunities for urban revitalization in Hamilton.

By Jason Leach
Published March 01, 2006

This isn't really downtown, but a zoning change is in the works for a nine storey residential building on Main West at the old CNIB site. Plans call for 102 units with 467 students living on site. The ground floor will have commercial/retail space. Hey, the more intensification and mixed use through the city, the better.

Rumour has it that a couple of local big wigs are hoping to hammer out a plan to bring back the Century Theatre on Mary St. Nothing is final and the project might be impossible to pull off, but these guys are giving it their best shot.

Bistro Chaz just opened on King William and Walnut at the old Bistro Virgo space.

Under the Moon, a new store selling art books and prints, is planning to open soon at James and Cannon. Next door, Atomica Tattoo is opening this Friday.

A new Indian buffet has just opened at Main and Walnut. We'll check it out shortly.

The downtown residential loan program, cleared of all wrongdoing after last year's embarrassing Mitchellgate fiasco, contains the seeds for some really exciting downtown reinvestment. Imagine downtown starting to develop more like Portland, Oregon has.

It would help if the city was properly funding the arts. Mayor Larry Di Ianni ran his campaign partly on a promise to earmark one percent of capital project funds to public art. Imagine how vibrant our core could be in even just a few years if we had cool public art installations at every new renovation/construction site downtown.

I think we may end up regretting not doing something like this when all these projects are built but the public art, site beautification components weren't taken seriously. Hamilton really needs an infusion of funky, public art and now is a great chance to do it.

I've just read through the Brabant papers and am quite disturbed by the following story, announcing yet another hockey arena on the mountain.

Why is there no consideration to build a new twin pad in the central city? The mountain has been loaded up with hockey rinks and folks from downtown regularly go up there to use them. The planners always tell us that demand is higher on the mountain than, say, the old Barton double rinks, so that's why they continually expand up there.

Well, no kidding demand is higher. I have a friend who lives a five minute from the double rinks and every week he plays hockey on the mountain with other central city buddies.

If we built a snazzy new triple rinks on Barton or at Eastwood Park, guess what? Folks from other parts of the city would come to use them along with locals who would finally feel equal to their privileged suburban friends, thus spreading the load around equally and giving all neighbourhoods and regions of the city top notch recreation centres.

Last but not least, don't miss my report on the downtown residential loan program's plans for this year. It's great news all around!

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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