Lister Block

11th Hour Reprieve for Lister?

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 9, 2006

Last night, Ward 2 Councillor Bob Bratina sent a note to his fellow councillors and city staff outlining a proposal he has negotiated with Darko Vranich, president and CEO of Vrancor Developments.

Vrancor owns the old Federal Building at the corner of Main St. W. and Hess St., as well as the neighbouring former HMP building at Main St. W. and Caroline.

Vranich, who recently built the Staybridge Suites hotel on Market St., will provide office space to the city in a restored Federal Building for $20 per square foot.

LIUNA's fifteen year plan has the city paying $22.50 per square foot for five years, rising to $23.50 for the next five years, and then to $26.50 for the last five years.

Vranich, who is also building a Hilton Suites hotel where the HMP building now stands, has agreed to buy the Lister Block from LIUNA for the price they paid for it in 1999 - $1.6 million - and restore it to residential and commercial use.

This is certainly a good plan for Vrancor. It also gives the city a slightly better deal for its office space (albeit still higher than the going rate) and preserves not one but two historic buildings.

Definitely more to come on this one!

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 Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 09, 2006 at 07:38:58

Talk about not following your own process - I just found the King William Streetscape Master Plan on the City of Hamilton's website. This is what it says about Lister:

"The imposing six-storey retail / office building known as the Lister Block has been a prominent downtown landmark since its construction in 1923. Its height, corner location, large double street frontage, and architectural design have all contributed to a dominant character. As Hamilton’s oldest surviving major retail / office complex with a large interior arcade, the Lister Block also ranks among the city’s best surviving examples of the decorative use of terra cotta. ...

"With its solid steel framed construction the Lister Block is a prime candidate for adaptive re-use. The resurrection of this significant building will promise a vibrant street life at the corner of King William and James."

http://www.myhamilton.ca/myhamilton/City...

I'm not decided yet on Bratina's Vrancor plan, but on its face, it's cheaper for the city than the LIUNA plan and more consistent with the city's own downtown redevelopment plan.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 09, 2006 at 09:19:29

.....and, it restores the beautiful facade of Lister instead of building a modern replica.

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By markbarbera (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2006 at 09:22:02


The Lister Block saga has now come full circle.

According to the September 27 column by The Spec's Andrew Dreschel, the Lister saga has now tipped fully in favour of restorative preservation. In today's paper, Dreschel describes the latest plans for the Lister now call for "the complete preservation of the downtown building, including its heritage features and concrete superstructure, while still converting the inside into modern offices".

Apparantly, the intervention by the Province has forced the DiIanni/LIUNA collaborators to turn to the 'plan b' that they insisted did not exist back in June. The reversion will likely cost the city more in the form of an extended lease, but the city ends up with the same square space in the renovated space. This is quite the feat, since LIUNA chair Mancinelli claimed the original building couldn't house this space.

The deal appears to have some collateral damage. Acording to Dreschel, the 1854 Thomas Building on James North and the circa 1900 brick building on King William will no longer be restored as proposed last June. Instead, he says they will be demolished in favour of newer buildings in the second phase of this development, with possibly some architectural elements preserved. I am assuming the facades would likely be preserved and incorporated on the exterior of the new buildings.

So it looks like the city's heritage committee and the planners working on the King William streetscape project will have their recommendations adopted after all. If only our council had the common sense to follow their expert advice to begin with. Why does it take outsiders (in the form of the Provincial government) to make the city work in harmony?!? What's wrong with our council???

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