Revitalization

Shoppers Planned For Old Downtown Post Office

By Jason Leach
Published December 03, 2009

Here's an interesting development: a Shopper's Drug Mart and new medical office space in the old post office at 232 Cannon St. between Wellington St. N. and West Ave. N.

They are using the existing building instead of a demolition. I suppose I can live with this as a way for these companies to gain a large store format downtown.

The fact that Shoppers is doing this is a good sign for downtown in general. Local sources tell me they will sell fresh produce and groceries as well. This is a huge need in the downtown area.

I'm hoping for a real urban grocery store, but this is a good first step and doesn't involve any demolition or new parking lots.

In a perfect world, Shoppers buys this site and constructs a 20-storey condo with their huge store on the ground floor. Unfortunately, we're still a long way from that sort of treatment in our downtown, with its mass of available land and lack of an urban condo market.

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 Really? (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 10:52:46

I believe this used to be a Grocery Store; Mr Grocer, unless I'm mistaken.

Question: Does this mean the closure of the James North Shoppers? Because if so, then that would be terrible for James North.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 10:54:48

Let's hope not.

So far shoppers has shown themselves to be more balanced in their big box approach. Fortinos, which used to have normal sized stores all through the city now has exclusively monster stores at the edges of the city. Limeridge Mall is probably their only location in the 'middle' of the city.

Shoppers on the other hand has kept open stores like James North, Westdale, Durand, Strathcona etc.... while building larger stores nearby.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 11:14:55

Funny you mention all those locations as they all used to be Big Vs (as well as Main & Sherman). The one in Durand still has the Big V logo on the back door!

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By dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 11:25:45

The James North and Colbourne location will close March 2010. Just got confirmation today. Which is a blow to the families and seniors who use this very convenient neighbourhood location - now they will have to either drive to the new location, risk walking down Cannon to get to it or shift their business to the other corporate chain in Jackson Square. I hear the current building and adjoining parking lot has already sold. No word on the buyer or what is going in there.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 11:39:15

Thanks, Dave. That was the (unfortunate) information I was looking for... Can't say I'm shocked in the slightest!

I guess Shoppers also gave up on the City with regards to the Main & Caroline Parkign Structure with Retail 'plan', as they've opened up across the street already. I'm guessing that means the Herkimer (Durand) location will also close?

This City is lame!

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By Dave Kuruc (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 11:49:58

>Really?

I think they are in that Hess Main Mall (old IDA location) just as a placeholder until the building across the street happens.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 11:54:59

Dave Kuruc, "I think they are in that Hess Main Mall (old IDA location) just as a placeholder until the building across the street happens."

Yikes... Good thing they're not holding their breath! Add this to the List of Those Waiting on the NHL?

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By MattM (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 12:01:57

The Hess location barely looks temporary. They just hung banners over the old IDA signs. I'm sure they're still actively pursuing the development across the street.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 12:06:37

The James North Shoppers while convenient is a blight on the streetscape. Isn't there an independent pharmacy not far away on James? I guess it comes down to what garbage will replace the Shoppers. I hope that parking lot will be infilled and a real building built there someday, but in the meantime there's more empty lots and demolition sites to fill. I just can't get all that sad, or happy, about anything Shoppers does or plans because they build the schlockiest stuff anywhere. Much like the LCBO, they have a few good locations but the trend is toward big, beige and bloated.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 12:14:23

The move will do more good for Cannon and Wellington than harm to James North. The way things are going on James North these days, someone else will be in the old Shoppers before long, whereas the chance of anyone else opening up shop at Cannon and Wellington seems slight.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 12:17:42

^^ Marchese's Pharmacy owns the better part of the block on James between Barton & Murray. However, there pharmacy is very, very small.

I don't know about anyone else, but I do enjoy the modern conveniences Shoppers (or any big name pharmacy) offer such as the ability to shop around while waiting for a prescription to be filled, rather than waiting in a lobby seat like a Merchese's-type pharmacy.

I wish shoppers would have mega-sized it's James North location with parking in the back, but this IS Hamilton after-all, and parking lots take priority as people in the Downtown area apparently don't ever walk anywhere???

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By madmatt (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 12:29:28

As a resident of the Wellington N/Canon area I'm glad to see Shoppers revamp this building. I agree that the old James N location will get developed sooner rather than later due to the interest in that district. Also, the area around the General Hospital has seen several major new developments with the new buildings and the restoration of the old pump factory on Barton. I know many here don't like the parking lots, but if it means more people with money coming into the area, it may make the City wake up and pay more attention to the Beas!

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 12:38:01

dang...sad news about James North Dave. so many folks in that area walk to that location. Wellington/Cannon is nowhere near being a comfortable walking distance.

Main/Hess now has proper signage, but I'm with Dave - I think it's temporary until the parking structure across the street gets built....in 2023.

King/Dundurn is also temporary, which most of us knew when they opened it. They want to stay in that area but were booted out by Loblaws so they could open their own pharmacy in Fortino's. I don't see how or where, but I hope the King/Dundurn area can become a permanent location for Shoppers...we walk to it all the time.

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By madmatt (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 13:07:48

jason >>dang...sad news about James North Dave.
so many folks in that area walk to that location. Wellington/Cannon is nowhere near being a comfortable walking distance.

It's a very comfortable walk for me, my daughters and grand daughter, not to mention people from the hospital and all the single mums and seniors in our underserved area. James N has other shops near by, unlike this intersection. The old location won't stay vacant too long considering how James N is becoming a place to visit.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 13:22:06

madmatt, you seem to have a typical Hamilton view; "How is this better for ME" Is it really better to have your young children crossing Cannon Street (which is an speedway), walking through a parking lot to access the store's front entrance? Or would it be better for your young children to walk up a safe, pedestrian-busy street like James, where the main entrance of the shop faces the street rather than a large parking lot?

Also, James is no Locke Street, don't be mistaken! James has a far, FAR ways to go before it reaches Locke 'status'. Do you see a Starbucks?

James North has troubles keeping non-italian/portugese-related shops open. I believe Rajin' Cajun has recently closed? Too bad.

So, don't be fooled by a successful Once-A-Month gathering; Although the Artists & Co have helped James North, again, it's far from where it should be! And the loss of a Big Name Tenant is just a slap in the face to a Downtown that cannot attract or retain big names.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 14:02:37

Open question: If we're anti-sprawl and pro-local business, should we be shopping at Shoppers anyway?

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 15:01:10

It used to be Big V!! haha

madmatt, I'm not suggesting this new location isn't good, but to lose the neighbourhood store on James North is bad for that area. End of story.

I don't see why these companies don't keep stores open in their urban locales AND do their big box thing on the periphery. Why can't Fortino's exist at Upper Ottawa/Larch, Limeridge West and Greenhill/Mt Albion AND have mega stores on Hwy 53 and Hwy 2 and Centennial etc.....

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By madmatt (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 15:33:12

Really >>madmatt, you seem to have a typical Hamilton view; "How is this better for ME"
Is it really better to have your young children crossing Cannon Street (which is an speedway), walking through a parking lot to access the store's front entrance?
Or would it be better for your young children to walk up a safe, pedestrian-busy street like James, where the main entrance of the shop faces the street rather than a large parking lot?

It's not better for me personally as I tend to walk everywhere once I park my car at the end of the day and I don't shop at Shoppers much anyhow (I prefer local establishments when ever possible). We OWN our house on Wellington N so I am quite familiar with Cannon as well. I would love to see no trucks and 2 way streets, but that also wouldn't be JUST for MY benefit. So should I drive to James St so my children (who have been walking down Canon for 20yrs) don't have to brave urban living?
My point was that this area needs shops and services too, not just James N(which I enjoy visiting frequently). With all the investment by HHS and other medical related businesses, it makes perfect sense for Shoppers to move to this spot.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 16:39:11

^^ I'm also not suggesting that Cannon Street remain a barren wasteland Highway Service-type road, but like Jason, am very annoyed that another 'local' establishment is just up-and-leaving, despite YEARS of loyalty from their local clientel (my Grandma lived on Colbourne, and I spent many hours in that Big V).

So what? They expect their clients to start to drive in order to keep shopping there? I know there aren't many older people who are willing to walk from McNab & Colbourne to Wellington & Cannon!? And drive? Well, not if Shoppers wants to keep their front windows/entrances in-tact ;)

It's just a terrible diservice on Shoppers behalf, but in these Times, again, I'm not shocked.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2009 at 01:04:16

I hope theres already some plans underway for the James North location- Im hoping that someone is able to recognize the opportunity that location presents... and it is a loss to the area for Shoppers to leave.

Given all that, it`s going to be really nice to have a Shoppers there - and near me.

Although Gibsons pharmacy (377 Main E) is great - Ive always received incredible customer service with them and theyll special order anything they dont have in stock and usually have it two days.

However, sometimes you need things right away. And Shoppers is a recognizable franchise who will keep the grounds in good repair and be a recognizable name to those who dont live in the area... and they arent tearing down the building to build a stucco box. That`s pretty good overal.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 04, 2009 at 01:06:45

they aren't tearing the building down, but it will still be a stucco box. LOL. Sorry to break the news.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted December 04, 2009 at 02:00:06

I'm sad to see the windows bricked up facing the Canon and Wellington corner.

It looks like it will be a sideways/backwards building, just like Concession and Wentworth.

Hamilton's largest private sector employers will be Shoppers and Walmart soon.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2009 at 16:12:23

I had hoped they would have preserved at least some of the brick exterior... but Jasons's right - I went by today and they're already working on covering two sides over and bricking things up, like Trey said.

Guess I shouldn't be surprised... at the very least, oncoming traffic can see the sign, and it'll be a better-lit parking lot at night.

Another office building quite near it, on the east side of Wellington, at Rebecca is currently applying for a zoning variance for conversion to 12 residential units and street-level office spaces - though I don't have high hopes for the residential, hopefully the street-level will be somewhat improved.

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By North End'er (anonymous) | Posted December 08, 2009 at 23:12:08

Reading the news at first my heart went up (James N. site would make an excellent small grocery store - another Goodness Me ??)...and then down (Dave says it's sold already)...and then settled out (maybe it'll be something else great?? or at least not too bad!).

And re Cannon and Wellington - yes, it's great to see newer stuff moving east and north, and really it's not too far for the James N. folks. Or if it's a prob. - Shoppers delivers! - my elderly father has been using this service for a couple of years now, from the James N. site.

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