Revitalization

Revenue Canada Building Exposed to the Elements

By Ryan McGreal
Published February 14, 2012

The old Revenue Canada building at 150 Main Street West, partially-demolished in August 2011, has sat ever since with a large part of the east-facing wall removed.

The remainder of the old Revenue Canada building at 150 Main Street West is exposed to the elements
The remainder of the old Revenue Canada building at 150 Main Street West is exposed to the elements

How much longer is the building going to sit there with its interior exposed to the elements? Is this state of affairs in compliance with the City's Property Standards By-Law, which states that all property owners must maintain and repair their properties?

RTH contacted the city's Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) office - mle@hamilton.ca - to seek clarification on the status of this building. We will post an update if and when the City responds.

Vrancor, the company that owns the building, is currently building a new Staybridge hotel kitty-corner from the Revenue Canada building, on the northwest corner of Caroline Street South and George Street.

Staybridge hotel under construction at Caroline and George
Staybridge hotel under construction at Caroline and George

The redevelopment of 150 Main West into a 600 unit condo is not expected to start until after the hotel is completed, but Vrancor proceeded to partially demolish the Revenue Canada building last summer.

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 seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 14, 2012 at 10:33:58

That's the beauty of one way streets, you only have to finish the side of the building that drivers can see!

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By adrian (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 18:41:43 in reply to Comment 74339

What's amazing is that I haven't looked at that side of it for precisely that reason. I drive past it all the time.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 14:36:21 in reply to Comment 74339

Great comment!

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 11:04:49

speaking of the hotel, remember the fancy rendering with lots of brick and glass?

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

It shows many rows of glass on the east-facing wall....go by and have a look. It's being stucco'd as we speak and there are no continuous rows of glass...just small windows like this: http://h.etb.ht/images/11/6150/41399/413...

Heck, I'd have been happy with this even: http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/p...

I have a hard time believing that a company who has only built suburban style stucco hotels with little windows is going to put up 4 modern, glass condo towers on this site.

http://www.vrancor.com/development.php

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 11:07:12

Looking at your photo above Ryan, of the hotel, and comparing it to the rendering, it's not turning out anywhere near as planned. Nevermind the east wall, look at the south wall. The rendering shows windows wrapping around the corners....in reality there seems to be no windows on 3/4 of the southern facade. let's hope they aren't done popping windows out yet....or this could be quite ugly by the time it's done.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 11:48:55

never mind the building at King and Hess. I doubt current construction methods will stand up to future development by neglect the way these mid-century buildings are. Maybe Vrancor builds them this way as a favour to future slippery developers of his own ilk.

I wonder if the Federal building demo was about getting around the covenant on title - ie I didn't destroy it, it just fell down! But I can't imagine he'd be able to get around it that way. Had he flooded the inside or lit an errant match maybe it would have been different.

Someone should be raising this example as a best practice, ahem BoE building. Whenever a public body gives money to outside entities, a restrictive covenant should attach preventing needless destruction. If public planning is going to be such a colossal failure maybe private planning can do the job.

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By Jeff_Stock (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 11:58:28

Pretty uninspired. Hamilton would do well to hold an architectural competition like the one that brought the Marilyn Monroe towers to Mississauga and subsequently raised the bar for a city typically criticized for excessive sprawl.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:18:19 in reply to Comment 74352

Or this.

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By good lord (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 20:25:33 in reply to Comment 74355

Not that guy. His work is there for all to see at the Market. Total fail

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 15, 2012 at 11:06:58 in reply to Comment 74383

What's wrong with the new market's architecture? I liked the design... well, the external lighting may date badly, but it's otherwise good.

imho, the failure of the market is the terrible mapping of the stalls within - losing a centralized foodcourt and spreading the ready-to-eat vendors throughout the market was bone-headed.

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By david premi (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:39:57 in reply to Comment 74355

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Jeff_Stock (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 12:25:31 in reply to Comment 74355

Much better!

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By Malex (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 14:24:05

There appears to be a fair amount of work being done in the lot adjacent to the Fed Bldg (to the east)...including some pretty big concrete drain pipes, etc...are they going ahead with infrastructure work in anticipation of starting work on the condos at this site in the near(ish) future? I drive by it everyday and I'm intrigued by the level of activity (or what appears to be activity, lol..)

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 17:15:17 in reply to Comment 74361

stucco companies must be drooling....

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 14:37:08

For the love of God let's tear this thing down already!

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By Steve (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 18:33:39

I'm hoping for some stonework to go with the stucco. Who can forget this memorable building just a couple of blocks away, http://www.easytobook.com/en/canada/onta...

sarcasm

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 21:03:59

This raises an interesting question: If a developer tells the City he's going to build a lovely little brick-clad hotel with big windows and stone trim, but the result is a stucco box, what are the ramifications? What can the City do to prevent this from happening time after time?

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted February 17, 2012 at 13:52:21 in reply to Comment 74384

If he presented one thing to the city and builds something else the city would have recourse. The renderings put out there for public consumption mean nothing. It's what is presented to city hall that counts.

Chances are he is building exactly what was presented to the city for approval.

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By Stuck On Stucco (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2012 at 23:46:38 in reply to Comment 74384

Renderings are generally only created once; to sell an idea.
After that, the developer can change the plan as many times as they like without having to publicly release any new renderings, so long as their updated plans are approved by the City.
So therefor, it was the City which allowed Vrancor to modify the building from something 'not that terrible' to 'unacceptable' by many standards.

Problem is, though our climate is in no way similar to that of Las Vegas or Phoenix, Stucco seems to have the City's seal of approval for building material though it's painfully obvious Stucco cannot last long-term in a Canadian (mostly moist) climate. You need look no further than Eastgate Square's newer additions to see how terrible the stucco looks just 3-4 years after it's application.

And for the record, the stucco used in desert climates (which have a purpose, ie: keeps homes cool, also blowing sand deteriorates brick) are of much better quality than the crafty type used in Hamilton.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted February 15, 2012 at 01:38:10

From what I can see, they seem to be starting to dig the under ground parking lot right now. This is article is pure sour grapes and I for like how that new hotel is working out so far.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 15, 2012 at 10:23:23 in reply to Comment 74389

I don't understand. So if they are digging the underground parking lot, why does the building have to be exposed to the elements?

Get ready for an "ooops it fell down". Lister did it twice to us.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted February 15, 2012 at 11:15:44 in reply to Comment 74401

Because it's a lot more dangerous and more likely to cause a building collapse by digging an underground parking lot under a location while it's still standing safely. That is if it's even possible to dig under the building to make said lot safely. It is a big building.

If you had watched the demo, you wouldn't have many doubts as to it's structural integrity, and it suddenly collapsing. However, that's no engineers assessment, which Vancor was required to provide to allow a partial demolition to occur instead of the full demolition that the they originally had with the city.

So pretty much the gripe at this point becomes "Vancor should have to put up a sheet a plastic up on the side of the building, to protect the interior that they are going to gut anyways."

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2012-02-15 11:51:02

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted February 16, 2012 at 09:25:32

Found this posted by Jon Dalton over at skyscraper:

"I just heard from a trustworthy source that Vrancor intends to move the crane from the Staybridge Hotel straight to the Federal Building site and start construction immediately on this project. This would save on transportation costs. No building permits have been issued yet, but that is what they are planning on. If the city moves to approve building as quickly as it did to approve demolition, I could see this happening! "


http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?p=5592751#post5592751

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 17, 2012 at 01:42:33

Stucco-on-styrofoam is the vinyl siding of our age.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 17, 2012 at 09:37:27

Ryan, did you ever get a response from the city?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 17, 2012 at 09:57:38 in reply to Comment 74512

No, as a matter of fact. I just sent a follow-up.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2012 at 16:31:46 in reply to Comment 74513

Keep on them Ryan, don't give up.

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By Malex (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2012 at 11:51:55

Well, it certainly looks like they're going ahead with something on that site...anyone know if it's simply remedial work, infrastructure prep or what? I thought the fed building was slated to sit empty for a few years at least? (In which case, Vrancor's newfound sense of urgency for the site is great news, esp. if it means something gets built way sooner)

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