So, this is what heritage protection looks like? Last night, the Heritage Permit Sub-Committee agreed to allow the developer to demolish most of the James Street Baptist Church.
James Street Baptist Church (RTH file photo)
While conditions were placed on the developer, the fact remains that most of a heritage designated building will be torn down.
The heritage permit review subcommittee began its discussions around 6:15 PM and did not finish until around 8:00 PM. At times, the committee members appeared to be under pressure to justify their concerns.
The loosely chaired meeting ranged over a number of concerns, including the possibility of immediate collapse, the need for an independent structural assessment, and how future designs could save more of the church.
For some time, it appeared that the subcommittee would recommend hiring a structural expert with heritage experience. Despite much discussion, the suggestion suddenly lost support when members were canvassed for a vote.
While the committee did recommend a number of conditions, the permit remains to tear down everything but the East Towers of the Church. The East Towers are the portion of the Church that faces James Street South.
The developer indicated during the meeting that he would move quickly with work once approval was given.
To be frank, I don't particularly like this building. It looks like a big pile of stones with little grace or poetry, particularly when compared to other historical churches in the City.
However, I find the proposal to combine the East Towers to a new structure, like what was achieved in Toronto at 88-90 Carlton Street, a very exciting possibility. If they do it right, they could create a new modern-historic classic.
But no matter how great the plans or aspirations of the developer, a heritage designated building deserves more consideration and protection than the average building.
Doesn't over a hundred years of history on one of the most important streets in Hamilton deserve it?
An independent assessment of the buildings with an eye to what could or could not be saved from a structural perspective is not unreasonable. Unfortunately, only one person wanted any kind of assessment.
So if this is the kind of protection a heritage designated building gets, what hope is there for non-designated buildings like the ones along Gore Park?
Part of this piece was first published on Chris's website.
You must be logged in to comment.