Infill by Streetcar Developments

By Jason Leach
Published April 18, 2007

We hear a lot about how Hamilton has this great old building stock that really should be acting as the catalyst for cool urban redevelopment.

Check the this link from the city we all love to hate - the yuppied up, condo-suffocating Toronto - featuring some great infill project by Streetcar Developments.

Why the heck can't Hamilton land a developer like these 'Streetcar' folks in Toronto?

Think of all the cool old buildings in our city just waiting for their new incarnation as loft apartments over a streetfront café. King East, Barton St, Ottawa North, James St, King William. The possibilities are endless.

Never Mind the Naysayers

Before anyone rains on this parade with arguments about how nobody would buy such units in Hamilton, please explain to me why loft units near my neighbourhood in buildings such as the Core Lofts, Margaret St lofts and Allenby Lofts are selling for prices twice what I paid for my house?

Any proper loft project that has been built in Hamilton has sold out and had great resale values. Even hidden, tucked-away projects like the Garfield lofts and Alanson lofts in Central Hamilton.

Hamilton needs some businesspeople and visionaries who see the raw potential of our city as well as the ability to make money in it.

We don't need more bland apartment blocks or 1980's townhomes. We need to rebuild the city from within - and when I say rebuild, I don't mean demolish. I actually mean rebuild.

Our city is loaded with old churches, factories, warehouses, banks, commercial blocks and everything in between. Some of the coolest, urban living units anywhere could be housed in such buildings.

Let's please get Streetcar Developments here and start rebuilding.

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 Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 18, 2007 at 13:16:35

All we need to attract these kinds of developers are ... streetcars:

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted April 18, 2007 at 13:52:09


As you know Corktown is in my neck of the woods. I love this area. It’s loaded with historic buildings and… ‘potential’ (there’s that word again…) However, if you walked around it today – as with many Hamilton neighbourhoods – you’d probably conclude that it’s run-down. The difference is that the neighbourhood appears to have hit a tipping point. The Don Lands Park is slated for completion this year (will probably be finished next year, it’s basically a few acres of mud right now), the East Don redevelopment competition, which pitted 4 design firms against each other to develop the land where the Don River meets Lake Ontario, has just wrapped up (the winning design was amazing) and the massive success of the nearby Distillery District, which is currently undergoing a ton of loft/in-fill development, are all contributing to the neighbourhood’s turnaround. And me moving in just down the road is obviously also a factor…

Also, as Ryan astutely points out, the area is already well serviced by streetcars as well as lots of local amenities. AND it’s just a mere 20 mins walk from the downtown!

Another great thing about the area is that I think it will be spared the usual over-the-top gentrification you get in these revitalized neighbourhoods. There is an assortment of affordable housing and coop blocks scattered around so it should develop into a nice mixed neighbourhood.

This area, and the factors contributing to its turnaround, could be seen as something of as a template for urban revitalization. I’ve summarized some of the turnaround factors below:

  • accessibility (streecars/walkable proximity to downtown amenities (shops, workplaces, etc), close proximity to major highways (2 mins from DVP and QEW))
  • mix of housing stock – good choice of affordable and different types of housing choices
  • park space – large scale development of green space and trails
  • safety/ambience/vibrancy/history/sense of place/community – awash with interesting architecture, lots of history, two-way streets throughout, minimal traffic throughput, easy to walk/bike around, increasing amount of local shops/pubs and foot traffic, an assortment of people places

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 18, 2007 at 16:34:03

Rusty - are you trying to tell me that city-builders of yesteryear built better neighbourhoods than today's group???
Heck, you should be a developer - you've pretty much nailed the main components to a great neighbourhood. It's why we love Strathcona so much. And also why Strathcona frustrates us at the same time - King, Main and York suffocate the area and kill most viable business opportunities. All so folks from outside the area can speed to work 3 minutes faster than if these streets were normal. The word 'potential' might always describe Hamilton if we don't ever get a council with the ability to make these basic, obvious changes to improve our city. I wish we could just deamalgamate so they wouldn't all be so worried about the suburban vote. Put York back to one lane each way and if people from Waterdown don't like it, tough! Sadly with amalgamation that'll never happen. The suburban vote runs the show and the suburban car is holding back our urban neighbourhoods.

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