Revitalization

City Hall Renovations: You Get What You Pay For

By Jason Leach
Published November 12, 2009

The Spectator reports, "The city is hoping renovations to City Hall will come in as much as $4 million under budget." Yeah, and it looks like it, too.

I didn't realize we were all supposed to be so proud of saving a few million dollars to butcher a landmark. I'd have rather seen it demolished instead of this happen to it.

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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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 11:35:09

What what is worse, is that the city took 19.2 million dollars from the federal gas taxes, which is suppose to go toward public transit, to pay for this.

It would seem that as a community, this was something we could not afford at the present time.

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By Go Cats (aka Capitalist) (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 12:10:16

Landmark??

Why is it that everything built in this city before 1985 is a landmark for you?

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 12:36:15

I think City Hall tends to be considered a landmark no matter where you go.

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By landmark (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 12:58:59

"Why is it that everything built in this city before 1985 is a landmark for you?" Maybe it's because the city designated it a heritage building and architects consider it one of the continent's best examples of the International Style of architecture...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 13:27:28

Jason wrote:

I'd have rather seen it demolished instead of this happen to it.

I hope this is just hyperbole. This building is so dynamic, that even in its bowdlerized form it's still one of the finest buildings in the city. We are privileged to have it. With any luck, it will outlive Ferguson and the other know-nothings and future citizens will give it the respect it deserves.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 13:51:40

True Highwater. I'd probably resist any attempt to demolish it for that one sliver of hope that we'll have some leadership in the future that isn't penny wise and pound foolish.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 14:15:15

I also meant to add that from an environmental point of view, we have to stop treating our buildings as disposable. Even if City Hall is a complete POS, it's far better that it's standing and being useful, than taking up space in a landfill.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 16:40:12

"...City Hall will come in as much as $4 million under budget."

Then how much will it cost in the near-future to maintain that Cement Wall. How long until it starts to crumble and need a complete face-lift?

Will that $4 Million today be worth the Time, Money & Effort in the Near-Future?

Hamilton: City of Band-Aid Solutions

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By dane (registered) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 16:47:22

So if you budget more for the job than necessary and then come "under" budget, the city of hamilton will split the "savings" with you. Its not even project based savings. This was set aside from the beginning. So from the start the company was going to get at least $2million for meeting its budget and the city was going to launder $2million through the renos??? I dont understand this at all.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 16:49:13

Even pro-cement Lloyd admitted the cement would have to be power-washed every couple of years to keep it from staining. Like that's going to happen. They better put that $4 mil into GIC's or something. They're going to need it in a few years to replace the stained, cracked concrete.

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By Balance (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2009 at 21:26:16

All I can say is the City blew it again. They should have sold the whole property. They could have bought both CIBC towers for half the cost of renovating that old dinosaur. 350,000 square feet, way more then needed which could have been leased out. Staff probably could have been accommodated at no cost! What better buildings for City Hall in Hamilton then a giant H (the two buildings are connected). That would have put the City in a bette light especially when you add in the Lister Block screw up. 50,000 square feet for $40 million. When will they learn?

On another note, it is easy to come in underbudget and ahead of schedule when they probably overbudgeted and estimated the timelines longer. Way to go! Don't count your chickens until all the eggs have hatched Llyod, nobody is in the building yet! No doubt there will be issues............they probably be swept under the rug though to save face.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted November 13, 2009 at 09:31:44

I can't wait until the cement looks like shit... in 3 years. "Hey did Hamilton use old sidewalks to make their City Hall?.... this is exactly where I want to invest.... a City that believes so strongly in itself that it uses cement siding for its City Hall."

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted November 13, 2009 at 09:36:22

I love that a $2 million kickback is called "a good thing" in Hamilton. Other cities would call that 'corrupt".

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2009 at 10:00:39

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted November 13, 2009 at 10:43:35

You don't need to wait 3 years, just go take a look right now. The east facing wall that I see everyday looked like ass as soon as it was put up. I hope this is just dust and debris from construction and will look better when it's finished.

Moreso than the cement, I worry about the aluminim window trim. In its new condition, it adds a 50's elementary school touch to the building, but aluminum does oxidize and ages much worse than stainless.

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By markwhittle (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2009 at 10:53:13

And once city hall staff move back into the renovated city hall, the City Centre they deserted will go bankrupt, and taxpayers will be left holding the bag again.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 13, 2009 at 11:18:13

with all due respect I could care less about the City Centre. The owners have done little except cram dollar stores and junk shops into there. It shouldn't be the taxpayers job to bail out a crappy landlord by giving them our best civic tenant.

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By billybob (anonymous) | Posted November 14, 2009 at 15:39:06

So the city is coming in under budget and under time and you losers still complain....sheesh!

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By Balance (anonymous) | Posted November 14, 2009 at 22:43:58

I wasn't complaining, great! I just don't trust anyone at City Hall especially Llyod. I'll bet anything that they inflated the numbers and timelines to spin a good news story on a controversial project. They even make good news stories out of people who don't pay their property taxes by talking about the interest charges. If it is such a good thing, they should start sending thank you notes for not paying as it is so lucrative.

On another note, wait and see with the concrete. It will look terrible in a few years. I'm sure it will start staining around the seams and ooze down the panels. Just look at how stucco is holding up on buildings along King Street, like the Canadian School of Dental Hygiene.

I just hope they maintain the new old City Hall and invest in a pressure washer and keep it presentable.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted November 15, 2009 at 09:51:40

Should have just built a new one. I don't care what anybody says, it's a pathetic, ugly little building for a "major" city. Just ask people from out of town or from any European country.

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By tripleseq (registered) | Posted November 15, 2009 at 14:58:15

Get over yourselves folks, the building looks fine.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 15, 2009 at 17:28:31

....so does the new composting factory.

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By frank (registered) | Posted November 16, 2009 at 10:39:36

All the new architectural buildings are built with concrete! Come on! It's an amazing building material and it's aesthetic appeal is superb! I wish it was stucco... That'd be even better!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 16, 2009 at 11:21:35

I'm not knocking concrete as a building material. It's just that limestone would have been far more amazing, and more cost effective in the long run. It wasn't just heritage activists wanting limestone for its aesthetic qualities, the construction consortium also advocated for limestone as it would be far more durable. Ferguson ignored construction industry experts to save a few bucks in the short term, and we'll all have to live with (and pay for) the sh*tty consequences in the long run, while he enjoys the near term political benefits of bringing the project in 'under budget and ahead of schedule'.

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By frank (registered) | Posted November 17, 2009 at 08:51:20

I hope I don't need to say that my comment was tongue in cheek... :) Concrete as a building material is great. Concrete as a finish isn't.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 17, 2009 at 10:18:09

I know. Just had to rant.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted November 17, 2009 at 12:32:54

"Hamilton: A City of Band-Aid Solutions" -City Hall -Knocked-down Building 'Parkettes' (King William and the emerging Tivoli Park) -Transit Fare Increases Every Year -Random, Misplaced Bike Lanes -Royal Connaught & More and More Affordable Housing Units ...This List could go on for Pages of Hamilton's Band-Aid solutions

The reason this City doesn't Strive for the Best is because its Politicians, aka 'Leaders', Don't Believe in It/Us.

"What do you want? Some sort of Taj Mahal!?"

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted November 20, 2009 at 16:03:23

I am glad it will be concrete. It will age just as well as any other building. Besides the "International Style" really suits concrete and I am sure many examples are just that. I looked at that charming heritage structure for 30 years and never knew it was anything but concrete. Limestone should only be used to encase pyramids.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 20, 2009 at 16:19:54

City Hall was built in the late '50's and is therefore part of the later phase of the International Style which was more decorative than the earlier phase, and relied heavily on the beauty and integrity of unadorned natural stone such as marble and travertine. For a late International Style building like City Hall, marble or limestone is far more appropriate, which is why Roscoe envisioned it the way he did. It's nothing short of a travesty that his vision has been marred by tiny men.

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By another capitalist (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2009 at 09:40:03

They should have knocked it down, used the land for parks, condos, whatever.

The city could have gotten the City Centre for a song, renovated it and housed everyone on King & James where it is most needed.

With the possible sale of the 71 Main Street West site, the overall cost would have been around $30 million less.

I walk by that building every day. It is horrible! The Cement will fade by next winter and the trim looks like plastic.

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