Revitalization

Heritage Canada Foundation Reports Demolition of Old Revenue Canada Building

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 22, 2011

The Heritage Canada Foundation has just published an essay on the old Revenue Canada building in its magazine on Endangered Places [PDF].

Although the latest draft plan for the redevelopment of the former Federal/Revenue Canada Building in downtown Hamilton no longer calls for its total demolition, only part of the west façade will be kept intact in order to preserve the bas-relief sculptures by artist Elizabeth Holbrook. The remainder of the structurally sound 1950s federal heritage building, however, will be razed.

The report notes that the building at 150 Main Street West was "given 'Recognized' heritage status by the Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office in 1993" and was identified in the 2006 Hamilton Residential Intensification Study as a good candidate for adaptive reuse as a condominium.

When Vrancor bought the building in 2004, Darko Vranich signed a covenant with th Federal Government to protect the building's heritage features and "ensure the building is in good and sound state of repair as a prudent owner would keep it." Instead, the developer left the building vacant and derelict for years, at one point illegally using it to store hotel mattresses and propane tanks.

Last week, without announcement, Vrancor began demolishing the building, though the plan now is to preserve the southwest end. The remaining structure will be incorporated into a new condo planned for a future phase of a multi-year investment in the area.

Demolished northeast corner of Revenue Canada building
Demolished northeast corner of Revenue Canada building

The first phase is a hotel planned for the property at the northwest corner of George and Caroline Streets. It is unclear how long the old Revenue Canada Building will remain partially demolished before Vrancor proceeds with its condo plans.

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 Grom (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2011 at 16:32:35

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By Morg (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2011 at 18:01:46 in reply to Comment 68340

You know, there's a famine in Somalia, and you're wasting your time trolling on a local affairs/urban planning website? FOR SHAME!

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By Grom (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2011 at 19:57:11 in reply to Comment 68342

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By Morg (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2011 at 20:08:58 in reply to Comment 68346

Maybe you should start your own website. www.anonymoustrollingmakesmefeelbetteraboutmyself.ca is available!

.com and .org too.

Oh. And good luck to you.

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By Grom (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2011 at 19:38:50 in reply to Comment 68348

insult spam deleted

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By Morg (anonymous) | Posted August 24, 2011 at 15:41:00 in reply to Comment 68401

Right. You wouldn't feel the constant need to put other people down with personal insults if you had anything to feel good about. You're not smart or clever enough to garner respect, and you spend way too much time resenting those who are. That's pretty obvious, regardless of pseudonym. Trolling this site anonymously every day of your life is the best you can do, and that's really pathetic.

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By Grom (anonymous) | Posted August 25, 2011 at 18:15:43 in reply to Comment 68415

insult spam deleted

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By Dick (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2011 at 13:58:53 in reply to Comment 68432

Just cool it, SG. "Webisite"? Cultural literacy without actual literacy. Interesting.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 24, 2011 at 20:35:46 in reply to Comment 68415

Kindly stop feeding the troll.

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By Ancopa (registered) | Posted August 22, 2011 at 20:04:36

So when do we find out what this new building is going to look like?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 23, 2011 at 07:30:08 in reply to Comment 68347

Jason Farr said updated plans will be available in a few weeks.

What worries me is that they're demolishing 150 Main Street West now, but they don't plan to build on the site until after they've built the hotel at the northwest corner of Caroline and George.

How long is the rump of the old Revenue Canada building going to sit there before they get around to bolting a new building onto it? Why the big rush to demolish it this summer?

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2011 at 16:09:15 in reply to Comment 68357

The rush to demolish is to circumvent any attempt to have a heritage designation applied to the entire building that would restrict future redevelopment opportunities. While the attempt to do so at the municipal level failed, there remained the possibility that a third party could petition for a heritage designation at the provincial or federal level. Immediate demolition of the east wing removes that possibility.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 23, 2011 at 08:50:35 in reply to Comment 68357

Doing my best to give him the benefit of the doubt, but if his plan were to give the elements enough time to do their worst before the big whoopsie, this would certainly be a great way to go about it.

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By James (registered) | Posted August 23, 2011 at 08:49:03 in reply to Comment 68357

Because Darko Vranich desperately needs another illegal surface parking lot. DUH.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted August 23, 2011 at 23:23:57

I saw a miniature version of our Federal Building in Little Current, ON this summer. It was a two floor red brick building with stone entrances not unlike our larger version. It housed a post office on the first floor from what I could see. Besides its apparent functionality as a post office, it accented the historic street wall as well as the majestic views of Lake Huron in the backdrop. Here is to hoping that Vranich will save some part of this uniquely beautiful building.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted August 27, 2011 at 01:04:16

If Vranich makes good, and I'm not saying he's going to at this point. This will be a jewel for Hamilton and an adaptive reuse that I have no problem with. I would hope more of the people of this site would feel the same if it does happen.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 28, 2011 at 09:33:42

A quick commercial search on mls, showed several of Vrancor's holdings in Hess Village are for sale, including the RokBar. What do you think this means?

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