Revitalization

Primed for Bustling Loft Conversions

By Jason Leach
Published April 12, 2007

Prepare to be filled with envy as you enjoy this photo tour from St Louis.

St. Louis Restored Streetscape
St. Louis Restored Streetscape (Image Credit: Skyscraper page)

St. Louis Restored Streetscape
St. Louis Restored Streetscape (Image Credit: Skyscraper page)

I have to ask: why do we always insist on demolishing our old buildings instead of restoring them like this?

Hamilton doesn't have a stock of warehouses like this in one area, but we do have prime candidates for similar development on Victoria and Wellington North, The old Westinghouse Building just north of Barton (by the way, years ago an arts group wanted to convert it to lofts, but were denied), and the best collection of warehouses in the downtown core ­ Cannon Street from Ferguson over to James St and in the York Blvd, James, Cannon, McNab area.

That whole area is primed to be a bustling loft district.

Don't just think of our current building stock. When I was in Boston last year, I saw many brand new buildings that looked exactly like these old warehouses. Same dimensions, window sizes, ceiling heights and brickwork.

Hamilton has many parking lots between our downtown warehouses. New, mixed use buildings built in the same fashion would help create a great streetscape and sense of urbanism similar to the new developments in Portland, Oregon.

Portland's Streetcar lines have attracted new investment (Image Credit: Busdude.com)
Portland's Streetcar lines have attracted new investment (Image Credit: Busdude.com)

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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By Tim Jacobs (registered) | Posted April 13, 2007 at 23:35:53

Whatever happened to the proposed development of the warehouse on Dundurn South across the street from the beer store and LCBO?

I'm just waiting for a savvy developer to begin work there; I'd love to buy a loft in that building, at that location. Locke's success is gradually spilling over onto Dundurn after all.

Anyway, thanks for another excellent report. I love the shots of St. Louis--very impressive. And there's no doubt that an LRT or streetcar system would certainly complete/complement Hamilton's renewal.

Cheers, Tim

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted April 14, 2007 at 16:28:45

My understanding is that the developer was arrested for tax evasion, and in the meantime it has been broken into several times and set on fire at least once leaving major interior (possibly structural) damage... so whoever takes it on now is taking on a HUGE project.

A friend and I had an idea to start a co-op of local residents who buy shares in a company which buys and develops the building, sells the condos and all co op members make a profit in the end. I think it's an interesting way to offset the upfront costs, and most residents would agree that the develoment of 220 dundurn would be a huge boon for the area (and worth the price of admission even if simply to raise their own property value).

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By Bus Boy (anonymous) | Posted April 16, 2007 at 12:48:30

The idea to develop a building as a co-op, then convert to condominiums for ownership HAS offset start-up costs in Toronto, Montreal and other communities, making such home-ownership affordable. The typical $100 deposit to join a co-op is much less than the several thousand dollar deposit demanded by condo developers, while giving members a say in the planning and design stages. A Toronto building contractor who builds this way has a website and offers counsel to new start-ups.

But the Dundurn location has a major drawback right across the road- the LCBO and Beer Store outlets. Neither have sufficient parking for the traffic they draw. It is a bottleneck and major source of noise. These shops may seem like a convenience at first, but adding pedestrian traffic from a new residence would only make the crossing more dangerous (as we've discussed elsewhere on RTH.) Move these ageing facilities closer to King & Main would actually improve the potential to redevelop Dundurn South, even as a commercial strip.

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