Downtown Bureau

Rethinking Jackson Square

Where does Hamilton's decidedly unhip urban mall, located in the downtown core, stand in the face of tremendous changes going on around it?

By Paul Weinberg
Published May 03, 2016

In the words of one architect, Jackson Square is "the elephant in the room."

Jackson Square, King and James entrance (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)
Jackson Square, King and James entrance (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)

Where does Hamilton's decidedly unhip urban mall, located in the downtown core, stand in the face of tremendous changes going on around it?

Should it be business as usual, even with the new light rail transit (LRT) system expected to run past it along King Street and Copps Coliseum/First Ontario Centre on Bay Street slated for renovations?

While the complex is undergoing a revival, with the arrival of Nations Fresh Foods and new tenants such as McMaster University and IBM, the outside and much of the interior of Jackson Square remains dark and uninviting.

Uninviting Rooftop

Many long-time residents will fondly recall the skating rink at Jackson Square and the live performances of Shakespeare's plays on the upper grounds/roof years ago. Since those activities were cancelled, the rooftop has been largely unused, notwithstanding the occasional event such as the beer festival.

Desolate Jackson Square rooftop (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)
Desolate Jackson Square rooftop (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)

"The idea was that the rooftop to the mall [back in 1968] would be a city park [or] a courtyard," says Jocelyne Mainville, the leasing manager at Jackson Square for Yale Properties. "Elevated from the street but a nice place where people could come up and enjoy some landscaping."

But the rooftop, which is primarily concrete and bereft of significant planting or a green roof, is today a desolate and depressing space.

"Nobody goes there; it is not even a shortcut [to anywhere]. It is a public space that is completely useless," says local artist Ingrid Mayrhofer.

In the 1990s there was a proposal to break Jackson Square up into smaller blocks and restore the grid of streets that existed before construction of the mall two decades ago. This was adopted as part of a downtown plan for Hamilton but never implemented, recalls Paul Shaker, an independent planner and one of the owners of Civic Plan consultancy.

"The prospects for downtown were looking grim [and] the city was trying to do stuff about it. The idea was we needed to take drastic measures." Since that time, little has been done to improve Jackson Square.

Jackson Square's rooftop was recently described as a windowless "blight" by the UK newspaper "The Guardian" in an article on Hamilton's renaissance.

Despite the influx of shoppers there is something about Jackson Square, with its grubbiness and cigarette butts around its perimeter, that is both unsettling and even scary for visitors and residents who rarely venture downtown.

Improvements Possible

That may change if the city, which owns the land under Jackson Square, requires improvements to be made as part of their current negotiations with Yale Properties, owner of the mall structure. Yale Properties carries a series of 99-year leases for the three sections of the city land.

On the table are two options:

Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr, the politician representing Hamilton's core, declined to say if improvements to Jackson Square are being discussed, but he remains optimistic of the outcome.

"I can safely say that the aesthetic appearance, the rooftop and amenities, and use are not lost in these negotiations. We as a council, and I, are confident that we can do better."

Farr emphasizes that the rooftop is neither city property nor a designated "city park," as widely perceived. He calls it purely "an urban myth". "We have never done any sort of maintenance on the roof top there. It's not one of our assets."

Local architect Rick Lintack maintains that Jackson Square cannot remain removed from the surrounding revitalization of the downtown streets.

"It is better than it used to be, but don't stop," is his message to Yale Properties.

Better Street Connections

For Lintack, the gold standard in mall design is Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which opened in 1877 and is one of the world's oldest shopping malls. The interior is similar to the exterior in a way "that reminds one that you are still part of the city," he says.

The architect draws particular attention to its majestic interior skylight and suggests something similar could be done on the inside of Jackson Square - which would mean ridding the mall of some portion of the rooftop.

The cost of this replication could be high, he notes. However, the Galleria, with its beautiful arches, provides an example of how Jackson Square could be improved. On a more modest scale, Jackson Square could focus on engaging with the surrounding street and city core.

"The whole problem with Jackson Square is that there is not enough connection to the street. [It] needs to be open use, with multiple entrances to the mall," says Lintack.

The architect has some street cred as the designer of the Empire Times and Templar Flats building projects on nearby King William Street.

Empire Times building, King William and Hughson (RTH file photo)
Empire Times building, King William and Hughson (RTH file photo)

He is also responsible for the design of the Honest Lawyer restaurant on the King Street side of Jackson Square. Both this place and the nearby Anchor Bar, which Lintack calls "cool," are the only eating and drinking spots at Jackson Square that fully engage both the pedestrians via an outside patio and the mall shoppers indoors with an interior entrance.

For Lintack, the solutions begin with introducing more restaurants, coffee shops and outdoor patios within the vicinity of Jackson Square's King-James entrance and other sides of the complex including the comatose Bay Street side of the mall with its closed store units.

Honest Lawyer patio (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)
Honest Lawyer patio (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)

One challenge on Bay Street, he says, is that the floor on that side of the mall is not level with the street. This makes it more difficult to meet the accessibility requirements of the Ontario Building Code.

1960s Utopianism

Meanwhile, Mayrhofer traces the evolution of the Jackson Square rooftop to the "utopia weirdness" of 1960s planners who wanted to eliminate the presence of pedestrians at street level ("they were expected to walk above the streets").

Elevated walkway over King Street between Jackson Square and the Hamilton Convention Centre (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)
Elevated walkway over King Street between Jackson Square and the Hamilton Convention Centre (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)

She suggests that the mall explore alternatives to chasing away the young people who congregate either in the vicinity of Jackson Square or on the roof. "Why not build a skateboarding site? They would have a new generation using the place."

Mayrhofer also suggests giving graffiti artists some mural space at Jackson Square to incorporate their self-expression and a soup kitchen inside the mall for the local population of homeless people.

However, Mainville, who has been in her job for ten years, counters that Yale Properties is not equipped to deal with non-mall activity beyond its retail purpose. She says that a skateboarding facility in particular would lead to new maintenance challenges.

Yale Properties is looking at ways to make better use of the rooftop but there is nothing to report at the present time, adds Mainville. "To do anything, make any changes to the [rooftop] area [in particular] is quite costly. So, it is not something where decisions are made and even implemented inside of a year."

She indicated that Yale is concentrating its attention on fixing the King and James entrance.

King and James entrance (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)
King and James entrance (Image Credit: Brian Piitz)

Opportunity to Rethink

Decisions about Jackson Square such as a major reworking of the rooftop or the addition of some structures cannot be undertaken by Yale Properties without the approval of the city, explains Raymond Kessler, Hamilton's manager of Real Estate.

"[Yale] would have to come to us and seek approval of that under the terms of the leasing agreement. In addition [Yale] would have to get their building permit [from the city]," he stated.

But changes to improve lighting and signage are strictly internal and can be undertaken by a mall management right away to enrich the shopping experience.

As the city and Yale Properties dicker on the final lease or perhaps price to purchase, city hall watchdog and CATCH writer Don McLean observes, "Irrespective of ownership, the City should have planning options that could enhance that site. So if there's an opportunity for re-negotiation, could it also include the possibility of rethinking, redesigning, repurposing?" he asks.

Shaker echoes this sentiment, pointing out that the downtown core represents the largest employment hub in Hamilton.

He notes that there is a mistaken notion that downtown is a "charity case" where too much is already being invested there by the city. "The downtown makes an economic contribution to the rest of the city, which benefits everybody. That, we need to better understand."

Paul Weinberg thanks the Ontario Arts Council for its assistance. Photos are contributed by Brian Piitz, a professional photographer and instructor.

Paul Weinberg is a Hamilton based freelance writer. His articles have appeared in Raise the Hammer, Hamilton Spectator, the Monitor (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives), rabble.ca and the Globe and Mail Report on Business.

55 Comments

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By highasageorgiapine (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:09:51

"Despite the influx of shoppers there is something about Jackson Square, with its grubbiness and cigarette butts around its perimeter, that is both unsettling and even scary for visitors and residents who rarely venture downtown."

i am sick and tired of reading this trash constantly. it is alarmist for absolutely no reason and has undertones of classism.

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By stone (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:39:01 in reply to Comment 118133

Jackson Square IS grubby, but it's the bleak midcentury architecture that seeps into your subconscious and puts you on edge. Nothing inviting about it all, the government building and the convention centre across the street don't do much to help either. The Farmers Market and the Library are pretty nice looking for the outside. City Centre is pretty bad too but in an entirely different way. It actually has a lot of potential because the inside has good bones, they just need to open it to the street.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 20:03:35 in reply to Comment 118140

Agree fully. There's also the loitering people, the people shouting, spitting, and sometimes drinking out there, the constant view of the yellow-jacketed ACTION team peering from above down on the people below, and the graffiti, stains, and lack of anything inviting.

I don't feel this way when I go to Eastgate, Lime Ridge, or the Centre Mall.

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By Gee I Wonder Why (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 20:49:08 in reply to Comment 118174

Weird what happens when you ghettoize your people of need and centralize your social services.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 17:51:12 in reply to Comment 118180

Sorry, where are the social services in Jackson square? I don't recall seeing them anywhere. Good on ya for trying to prove a point that can't be made.

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By OK (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 20:49:43 in reply to Comment 118264

Are you purposely obtuse?

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By ANONYMOUSADAM (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:14:23

I am surprised the tearing down of the Kenesky building is not being poo-pooed here. There is no excuse for that building to not be incorporated into whatever was being built there. This city continues to sink into hell.

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By stone (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:45:29 in reply to Comment 118134

Kenesky's was old sure, but that was pretty much all it had going for it. Not really an interesting building on a not very interesting street. Any heat it may have once had was long gone.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 20:04:20 in reply to Comment 118143

It was interesting, all buildings that are on a corner and have the entrance on the diagonal are neat.

Also, was the neon sign saved? Always something we looked for when in that part of the city.

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By highasageorgiapine (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:19:22 in reply to Comment 118134

the kenesky building was on barton and since our new, young professional urban class are unable to travel outside a few blocks past james for fear of encountering poverty no one really noticed.

i was pretty bummed they tore it down too, it was certainly a significant building in the world of hockey at one point.

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By Classesque (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 12:10:01 in reply to Comment 118136

For someone whose always complaining about classism you sure like to define people by class.

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By hockey fan (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 11:45:13 in reply to Comment 118136

Kenesky's was the only heritage in Hamilton I care about. Its obvious only heritage that people care about isnt exclusive to developers

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By stone (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 12:47:55 in reply to Comment 118147

If Kenesky's was torn down in the 90's there may have been some outcry, but it's just been a run down store for the last 20 years.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 20:05:11 in reply to Comment 118157

Can we apply that logic to any of the rundown buildings in this city? Replace Kenesky's with the Gore buildings and your comment would have been downvoted into oblivion.

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By stone (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 22:16:26 in reply to Comment 118176

As the saying goes, location, location, location. I think buildings in this city should be preserved, but just because something is old doesn't make it heritage.

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By hockey fan (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 06:47:01 in reply to Comment 118183

Thats the entire point. Kennesky's is heritage while many of the buildings being fought for really arent. That building represents a significant portion of Hamilton's history. To claim otherwise really only shows that you only care about history in your area of interest

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By heritage fan (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 06:52:47 in reply to Comment 118184

It shows you don't understand what "heritage" means - it's architectural heritage, not "there used to be a business here I really liked".

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By hockey fan (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 07:30:27 in reply to Comment 118185

That shows you dont know what heritage is. Heritage is much more than bricks and mortar. Its stories of people places and the soul of the city. Kenesky is a hockey icon, not just some business I really liked

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By stone (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 09:49:45 in reply to Comment 118187

It had a great sign I'll give it that. Pops is in the Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame so it's not like he's been forgotten. If the city is having a hard time deciding if the Westdale Theatre should be designated heritage, Kenesky's stood no chance.

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By hockey fan (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 10:25:41 in reply to Comment 118203

I'll give you this"If the city is having a hard time deciding if the Westdale Theatre should be designated heritage, Kenesky's stood no chance."

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By Streeter (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 10:40:48 in reply to Comment 118206

Perhaps a bronze heritage plaque at the new site would be enough then to recognize the historic importance of the business that was in that building? Or if space permits, a hockey themed public art installation like the Tim Hortons at Ottawa and Dunsmure. There was a ton of historic importance for Canadians in that location but yet a new building stands and honours the old. This may be an option to satisfy all?

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By hockey fan (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 10:44:03 in reply to Comment 118207

Lets put a bronze plaque on the new Gore

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By hockey fan (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 10:45:17 in reply to Comment 118208

Tim Hortons on Dunsmure was a travesty. Such lack of respect in favour of profit is mind boggling

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By Streeter (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 10:59:22 in reply to Comment 118209

Lack of respect when they tore down the original building or that they tore down the replacement building? What is the lack of respect? They built a museum and shrine to the company, which is more than the building had when they tore it down... Anyway sorry for your loss, obviously Kenesky is a horrendous loss for you.

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By hockey fan (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:02:55 in reply to Comment 118211

It was the original building remodelled but go with the lie

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By hockey fan (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:05:06 in reply to Comment 118212

In fact I see that you dont respect Tim Horton or Pop Kenesky. Both projects are equivalent to tearing down the Gore

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By ANONYMOUSADAM (registered) | Posted May 05, 2016 at 08:10:08 in reply to Comment 118213

I don't think everyone here gets it. It was an old building, it housed a culturally significant business, and could have stood to be incorporated into a modern design which would have maintained the look of the area and respected all of these things. There was no reason to tear it down other then being a jerk.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:23:02

Actually, the Guardian article praised the Jackson Square rooftop as the one nice thing about the mall:

-but unlike the mostly windowless world of the mall below, the rooftop offers grassy knolls, sun and shade in summer, live music, a beer festival and a refuge from an otherwise bustling area of town.

And I would tend to agree: I like exiting onto the rooftop after a movie, or taking a walk there after going to the library. It is actually pretty nice in the summer, but it is definitely under-used and could be spruced up.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-05-03 10:31:23

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 20:08:07 in reply to Comment 118138

Me too. I still head up there when at the Square on a nice sunny day.

When I worked at the Hall in the early 2000s, I used to go up there and eat my lunch a lot. It's quiet, but busy, if that makes sense. The patches of grass were nice to sit on, or the edges of them.

We also used to skateboard down there when in high school - never used to get bothered up there. I like the idea of having a skate park in there. Even having something like a basketball/ball hockey court up there could be fun.

Also definitely agree about it being underused and needing TLC. Get rid of the brick, replace with interlock/concrete with raised gardens/trees, and that place becomes a raised Gore Park.

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By Moi (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 11:30:51 in reply to Comment 118138

This used to be true, but now with all the fast food restaurant exhaust chimneys dotting the rooftop the place constantly smells like hamburgers. The JS landscaping staff are no longer around, so the greenery is being replaced by garbage. Today they are vacuuming the cigarette butts out from between the cracks in the paving stones. That'll fix it.

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By stone (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:29:54

Jackson Square is a utility mall, there are lots of useful things inside(post office, drug store, movie theatre, LCBO)but there is no destination that makes you want to go there on purpose. Recladding could help the outside, that brutalist pebbley concrete is horrible. Store's that face the street should be things that can incorporate said location, why is Urban Behaviour on that corner? It brings nothing to that spot and it's outside doors are blocked off. Also the hours at this mall are horrible, it basically closes when people get off work and can go shopping.

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By ANONYMOUSADAM (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:42:03

They need to rip down the whole exterior wall of this place and replace it with glass and storefronts. That alone will go a long way to revitalizing it and making it feel a part of the city instead of a concrete dungeon full of thrift junk

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By stone (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:49:07 in reply to Comment 118141

They do seem to be slowly cleaning up the inside and not renewing leases on middling tentants, still a long way to go though. Huge section near the hotel that still feels like 1983 when you walk through it.

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By Moi (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 11:35:53 in reply to Comment 118144

The hotel section is operated by a different landlord than the rest of the mall. They obviously DGAF that it's the last bastion of crusty retail in the place (not counting Eaton centre)

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By stone (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 12:41:38 in reply to Comment 118146

All of these attached buildings need to get on the same page. No one knows that City Centre and this small segment are managed by different people, it's all Jackson Square as far as anyone going in there is concerned and these areas need to be fixed with the rest of it.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 10:45:18

Jackson sq is great, from the underground parking to the tranquil rooftop. If this was in Vancouver it would be called Robson Square. Even Montreal has several downtown malls.... because of the weather half the year. Sorry I would like to take off my parka and stroll through a climate controlled mall. And when I return to my car I don't have to scrape off ice bc of a heated parking garage.

There is nothing wrong with Jackson Square. I'm tired of hearing progressives blaming all the downtown problems on it. The truth is if there was no Jackson Sq there would hardly be a downtown,

Comment edited by TreyS on 2016-05-03 10:49:07

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By Trooper2 (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 12:26:28 in reply to Comment 118142

Because of Jackson Sq there is hardly a downtown.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 20:09:28 in reply to Comment 118152

It's a contributing factor, but not the only one. Plenty of buildings torn down and replaced with parking lots have not done any favours there either.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 12:22:51

There is a very large student residence being proposed for the area I believe around King William / James St. With that building full of people Jackson Square might find itself in the enviable position of being the supplier of many, more varied goods and services. Given time, population pressure could fix any of Jackson Squares perceived problems.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 09, 2016 at 21:35:12 in reply to Comment 118151

I hope not. All they've brought to Westdale is fast food and nail and waxing salons.

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By Cpt Obvious (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 21:03:43 in reply to Comment 118151

It's under construction as we speak. Also, unless they're Columbia College students, they'll have very little disposable income and won't help the mall all that much.

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By Watcher (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2016 at 18:32:36 in reply to Comment 118182

If they are Columbia College students they will be going to T.O. on the weekend to spend, not to a Hamilton Dollar Store

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 12:41:23

The J-square roof is just begging for use--like when that ragtag bunch used to play ball hockey up there every weekend. With Mac's expansion and the to-be-built student residences noted by ergopepsi, it could very well be McMaster's unofficial downtown Quad/student space.

Off topic: I'm smiling here, reading about all the new-found love for Kenesky's, and Hamilton's poor. I can't tell if it's genuine or if it's due to MSM outlets eliminating comment-sections. Are the spectres of trolls floating around, looking for a new home?

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By Miss Manners (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 13:04:53

I'm kinda gun shy about raising this, but...
It's not just the building that needs to be re-envisioned and cleaned up...
What often passes for appropriate behaviour by certain mall regulars makes the facility a horror and univiting to many. Let's not kid ourselves. Until some level of social decorum can be enforced at the mall it will be an uncomfortable place for many.

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By popcorn (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 15:49:15 in reply to Comment 118159

Uh-oh. Someone alert highasageorgiapine.

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By Cpt Obvious (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2016 at 20:57:06

Tear down the beauty school portion along York Blvd and replace it with an urban stairway. Bright, open, inviting, architecturally pleasing.
Not a complete solution, but would help people find it and invite pedestrians up.

I know people who grew up in Hamilton that didn't know this existed until recently. Insanity.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 08:31:18

The Eaton Centre in Toronto was one of the first attempts in North America to put a suburban mall downtown. It's unfortunate futuristic architecture on the outside of the mall especially the Yonge Street, side made it look like a space ship right out from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, hand landed on Yonge between Queen and Dundas Street. It also like every other mall had internalized the shopping environment and cut it off from the outside. The result was a wind swept alien like landscape on the west side of Yonge in downtown Toronto.

It took about 15-20 years but the change started when the mall and some of its restaurants realized that, it was better to allow these places to knock out the outside wall and put in windows and doors. Then allow patios and restaurant patrons to travel through the restaurant to the patio and allow possible patrons to walk in from the Yonge street entrance as well. It was a quick easy way to establish a on street presence. Then were possible, very small leasable social, retail, commercial and restaurant space that had only supply access to the mall and whose entrances faced towards the street were built. Even smaller street only facing garage like spaces were given short term leases to media (TV and Radio) or community organizations, Toronto public Health comes to mind. CFNY Radio had a small garage space were local and some international artists and bands would play to the street on Friday and Saturday nights, allowing for broadcasts from the street front space. Once the young and the young at heart, had great street space the whole block picked itself up. The idea being that you have to start small and build slowly and cheaply then it will pick up when the market re-establishes itself back on the street. Then the sky is the limit. It gets easier when you get young people first. If they make it hip, then half the battle is done.

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By RBoy (registered) | Posted May 09, 2016 at 16:00:56 in reply to Comment 118193

You are 100% correct! Great post. Too much overthinking and bureaucracy causes things to take too long start with painting out the faded blue. One small step at a time.

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By bang (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2016 at 11:52:59

Blow it up.

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By Ex-Square (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2016 at 08:34:25

I used to work at Jackson Square. If you put a skate park up top, you would be further damning it's use. The only "kids" that would use it would be the same ones that constantly hang around the mall. The ones from the Notre Dame house, people staying in the Salvation army, Good sheppard, etc. It isn't like little Tommy from down the block is going to come to play. It's going to be more shit heads. Knock the square down. Its the worst mall any ways, everythings closes at 6pm and is of a low scale.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 06, 2016 at 08:58:43

I always thought it would be nice to have a childrens' playground up there. Maybe fence it in and attach it to the library or something if vandalism is a concern.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 09, 2016 at 21:38:38 in reply to Comment 118324

Yes! Preferably a natural playground.

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By Real Issues (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2016 at 10:29:58

Hardly a priority and given that it is neither a really heavily trafficked mall compared to the concrete nightmares in other parts of the city, who is going to pay for all these "improvements"? It would inevitably land on the small businesses who are already being pushed out and replaced by more and more corporate franchises losing the mall's appeal in favour of another generic franchise mall. In the end though it is the customers who pay as costs go up so prices go up. Is that fair. Jackson Square may not meet some hipster gentrified aesthetic but until real money regularly flows into it and real changes that benefit everyone, not just TO angsty developers, we have more pressing needs than how Jackson Square looks to some.You want to redesign something, go fix all these newer concrete outdoor call park malls and make them more friendly to all users.Whenever people try to "fix things" we inevitably end up with something worse. Don't like JS don't go there.Keep going to your concrete car malls.

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By RBoy (registered) | Posted May 09, 2016 at 15:56:22

I think this is a major over thinking of Jackson Square. Paint all the faded blue colors to black, including trim and sky walk. Match current city paint trends (They are already taking hold on James Street). I completely disagree with Ingrid Mayrhofer's ideas and think that they are stuck in the 1990's. Graffiti and self expression is a nice way of saying vandalism. On the James street side they could invest in wall Murals vs. Graffiti. It touches on Mayrhofer's point but also allows some type of committee or juried effort and links the James street Art Crawl and the wonderful things happening on James with Jackson square. Architect Rick Lintack really has it right. As unpopular as it is Hamilton needs to look at other cities such as Toronto to see what has worked and reproduce it. Otherwise we will continue to have fractured unpopular ideas put forth as the norm and not the exception and Hamilton will continue its journey of mis matched ideas that don't work together.

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By kenn1987 (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2016 at 17:06:55

Great article. It would be an interesting study to trace the history of how the word "blight" came to be used to describe urban landscapes. It's a curious phenomenon that we use a biological metaphor to describe man-made environments and by extension we almost put at an arm's distance the fact that a lot of this "blight" is down to human actions and decisions. The use of the world blight, I think, always us to think about socio-economic depression in our urban cores as a natural, agentless phenomenon that we could do nothing to stop.

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