Lister Block

City Hall Should Leverage their Lease

By Jason Leach
Published January 12, 2006

This week's news about the possible demolition of the Lister Block has garnered several responses in the city.

Yours truly was interviewed on CH News earlier in the week and suggested that the city use their $30 million lease as leverage to ensure that we get a spanking replacement building, and not an ugly box like the federal building on Bay Street.

That building was built by one of the partners in the Lister deal so I have reason for concern.

With architect John Mokrycke stating that despite his best efforts this place cannot be restored, I feel more comfortable with the city moving ahead with a replacement Lister plan.

Keep in mind that the original Lister was replaced by the current Lister, but that was many years ago when similar building materials were readily available and when folks actually cared about what their buildings looked like.

The Hi-Rise Group aside, I am comfortable with LIUNA as one of the developers of this project. They have a good track record with their own head office on Hughson South and LIUNA Station on James North.

Mokrycke is a huge fan of Hamilton's history and would have explored any option possible to preserve the historic fa├žade of this building. He's not an 'in-house' architect paid to tell us that it can't be saved.

His own track record includes a wonderfully restored building at Rebecca and Hughson and his new home on James North, in the building that houses Mixed Media.

City Hall should try to work an amendment into the deal stating that their 15 year lease payment will lower to $20 million instead of $30 million if the replacement building isn't a replica of the current one.

I've seen buildings in other cities that I thought were 100 years old only to find out that they were built recently. The ability to pull off this sort of project is more than doable.

The bottom line for Hi-Rise and possibly LIUNA is money. That's why the city must use their financial commitment as leverage to ensure that we get a beautiful piece of Hamilton's history put back in place.

For the third time.

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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