Lister Block

Breaking: LIUNA Accepts City Lister Offer

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 30, 2008

The office of Mayor Fred Eisenberger reports that Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) has accepted the city's offer to buy a restored Lister Building for office space and a guarantee that LIUNA will add a condo development as phase 2 of the redevelopment.

The deal was reached over last-minute negotiations between LIUNA Vice-President Joe Mancinelli, Hi-Rise Group president Warren Green, acting city manager Joe Rinaldo and Mayor Eisenberger.

It's not yet clear what prompted LIUNA to change their minds about the city offer after vociferously rejecting it last week. They may have reconsidered the likelihood that the province will designate the building as a provincial heritage site in accordance with the recommendation of the Ontario Heritage Trust, recently released through a freedom of information request.

In any case, it will serve to break the impasse that has left the building empty and neglected for nearly a decade since LIUNA bought it in 1999.

The Lister Building was designated as a municipal heritage site in 1996, but council voted to approve a demolition request in 2006. Responding to an outcry by heritage advocates, an intervention by then-Culture Minister Caroline Di Cocco, LIUNA and the city agreed to strike an ad hoc committee to find a compromise solution.

After two years of turbulence and more than one impasse, the city and LIUNA finally cobbled together a deal to renovate the Lister into office space and sell it to the city for $25 million, plus another $7 million grant from the province.

That deal collapsed last week when the two sides could not agree on the terms for a condition bond to guarantee that LIUNA goes ahead with a phase 2 condo development.

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 Baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2008 at 14:01:20

Good. Finally some good news for the downtown. I am not happy with the price tag, but this is worth celebrating.

And I have been critical of do-nothing Fred, but even if he was on the sidelines, he deserves some credit.

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By stoneycreeker (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2008 at 14:27:37

Way to go Mayor Fred. You, and my Councillor Whitehead and several others understood the business case from the start. Although Lister won't be the key to revitalizing downtown, it's a positive sign that things are finally on the right track.

To address Baystreeter's comments about the Mayor doing nothing, we've seen more action from this Mayor that the last two. Over $150 has flowed to the city from the province and federal government since he's been there. Larry only brought in $100 (over three years according to his own campaign literature).

Mayor Fred may not be in your face, but he is getting things done for Hamilton. LRT, new transit line to Waterdown and expanded service on the Mountain, a GO station and VIA stop downtown, GO Bus service to Stoney Creek starting today and much more.

Way to go!

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By Baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2008 at 19:27:41

So, Stoney Creeker thinks that the Mayor has brought all these wonderful things to the city. I beg to differ. Read Dreschel's column today. He can't win a vote on anything he tries.
If it wasn't for staff (remember Fred's on holidays) and LIUNA the Lister deal would have been dead. Still I will give him some credit. But let's not compare Fred to any of the other Mayors. There is NO comparison!

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 30, 2008 at 22:22:53

there's another topic on the blog about the mayor.

As for Lister, I guess this is good news. I'm happy the building will be saved, but that the street level will be tinted glass and office cubicles instead of the retail arcade. LIUNA is making it rich off this, but downtown Hamilton will be better off, so I can live with it.

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By phil b (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2008 at 22:35:51

Baystreeter's attitude is the problem with Hamilton. Eager to shoot down other people working to make a difference using words they either don't understand or through around so generally they mean nothing.

People need to put up or shut-up. If Baystreeter thinks he can do a better job, then he should stop hiding behind a fake name and put his real name out there and then run for election. It's easy to complain and then sit back in one's arm chair and do nothing. Make a difference in the community is not a spectator sport - leadership is not about always getting your way.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 06, 2008 at 13:41:09

While I don't agree with Baystreeter's comments about Eisenberger (he's worlds better than DiIanni, Wade, or any of the other jokes who've graced council in recent years), to suggest that he either run or office or "shut up" is laughable. Civic life is about the free exchange of ideas, even if they're critical (this city's leaders have been suffering from a sore lack of enough criticism for far too long). Running for office(beyond a joke candidacy), and office itself to a much larger degree, is an extremely exclusive venture, which is completely off-limits to virtually everyone in Hamilton (save a few dozen out of 500 000). Regardless of this, the rest of us still live in Hamilton and must live with the decisions made "on our behalf", and thus are entitled to speak our minds about it.

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