Lister Block

LIUNA Needs to Demonstrate Good Faith

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 09, 2008

Once again, the fact of LIUNA's own responsibility for the fate of the Lister Block falls outside the pale of mainstream political discourse in Hamilton.

In today's editorial, the Hamilton Spectator notes, "The Lister Block is a private property. LIUNA has no obligation to risk more of its members' money on historical preservation."

Not mentioned is the fact that LIUNA does have an obligation to secure its property from the elements and maintain minimum property standards, an obligation it has neglected since buying the already vacant property from Metrus in 1999.

Let's be perfectly clear on one thing: the Lister - and the downtown neighbourhood it girdles - is in a crisis because LIUNA allowed it to deteriorate in the first place.

LIUNA finally boarded up the windows in late 2006, seven years after buying the property, during negotiations with the city to lease office space in a replicated Lister.

It's more than a bit disingenuous for LIUNA to neglect the building for seven years and then claim that the state of decay is pushing up the price of restoration.

Plenty of Blame to Go Around

Granted, the city is by no means innocent in this sordid business either.

For years the city abrogated its own responsibility to enforce its property standards by-laws with regards to the Lister. It's hard to blame LIUNA for not caring when the city didn't seem to care either.

Further, demonstrating anew its trademark refusal to consider options, City Council backed out of the tentative deal it made with LIUNA without waiting to compare an independent assessment of the cost to restore the building with LIUNA's new lease price.

On top of this, Councillors asking if the city could keep $7 million in provincial money earmarked for the Lister restoration was simply cringe-inducing, and quickly slapped down by the province.

With Council acting like a gaggle of bumbling amateurs, it's hard to blame LIUNA for playing hardball.

A New Business Case

The editorial argues, "There is no business case for preserving the Lister Block. No one wants to invest or lease there at a time when downtown space is going begging."

Correction: there is no business case for preserving the Lister Block as an office building, especially as its relatively low ceilings make it difficult to build modern office infrastructure; but there is potentially a strong business case for preserving the Lister Block as a residential building with commercial space on the main floor.

The success of other projects downtown has demonstrated a strong latent demand for urban condos, and the Lister, which is still structurally sound, would make a great candidate for adaptive reuse.

The Spec does make an important point near the end:

LIUNA says the building is not for sale, but business is business. It's time for those who say the Lister can be preserved to put their money on the table and make their case.

I've made a similar argument in the past. In a related vein, such developers and architects as Darko Vranich, Eberhard Zeidler and, more recently, Harry Stinson have expressed interest in the Lister Block.

Demonstrate Good Faith

LIUNA clearly does not want to risk its own money redeveloping the Lister - either through restoration or demolition. Indeed, LIUNA bought the building in 1999 when it looked as though the federal government was going to move 1,200 office employees into it.

The feds ended up building the office at Bay and Market St. instead, and the Lister sat empty and untended.

If LIUNA wishes to demonstrate that it is acting in good faith and not simply holding the city ransom, it should signal that it is willing to sell the building to another developer for a fair market price.

Finally, the city could still play a role in facilitating such a transfer. The city could buy the Lister from LIUNA at a price high enough to make it worth LIUNA's time and sell it at a discount to another developer in exchange for a promise of timely restoration.

Considering the premium rates Council was willing to pay for office space, this could still turn out to be a bargain.

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 Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2008 at 16:37:25

"The city could buy Lister from LIUNA at a price high enough to make it worth LIUNA's time and sell it at a discount to another developer in exchange for a promise of timely restoration"

You are kidding right?

What if there is no developer willing to buy the lister? Just how do we enforce "promises" for "timely" restoration?

You constantly criticize LIUNA for being "greedy" and letting the Lister rot, so your solution is to reward them for this behaviour!

If your readers want to know why taxes are so high in Hamilton and why no reputable developers want to do business downtown then one of the reasons is because of thinking such as this.

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By Mark (registered) | Posted January 09, 2008 at 16:43:31

LIUNA is responsible for the deterioration of Lister? So, I suppose the block was in good shape until 1999.

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By Al Rathbone (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2008 at 16:58:07

There are plenty of others who want the Lister. The problem is LIUNA REFUSES to sell. They say that the property is theirs and they won't sell no matter what happens. They'd rather tear it down or leave it empty than sell it.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 09, 2008 at 17:04:18

No, but they knew what shape it was in when they bought it in 1999, and it has detyeriorated further on their watch, so:

  1. they can't come crying for public funds because it's "too deteriorated to fix"

  2. they can't come crying for additional funds as time goes on and it gets more and more expensive to fix, since this continued deterioration is THEIR FAULT

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By statius (registered) | Posted January 09, 2008 at 17:22:28

Capitalist,

You write: "You constantly criticize LIUNA for being "greedy" and letting the Lister rot, so your solution is to reward them for this behaviour!"

While your frustration at the sorry state of affairs is of course understandable, the problem is that there may be very little that the city can short of paying LIUNA what it wants. Consider that LIUNA is a major North American union of some 700 000 members with considerable financial and political clout. It certainly has the purse to hold onto the Lister until it gets the price that it wants, or alternately, to fight off or at least severely delay any attempts to compel it to put the property to good use by way of protracted litigation. This is why I think it might be in our best interests if the community were to accept the disappointment for the time being and focus its collective efforts at core renewal elsewhere. Of course, the natural response to this latter proposition is the fact that there are currently no comparable properties existing downtown, but that is a debate I don't wish to touch upon right now ...

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By Baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2008 at 21:58:52

This whole thing makes me sick. Especially the lying Councillors who have let the renovation of city hall run amok and yet don't believe that Liuna's renovations should cost more.
I say tear the building down at this point. The Spectator is right. If on the other hand Liuna gets its price, maybe they should sell.
Perhaps all those who love heritage can pool their money and buy the Lister. Put your money where your mouth has been.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 09, 2008 at 22:04:50

Capitalist wrote, "You constantly criticize LIUNA for being 'greedy' and letting the Lister rot, so your solution is to reward them for this behaviour!"

I don't want the city to reward LIUNA for neglecting the Lister, but since they own the building, they have an inherently strong bargaining position. The city needs to deal with them if it wants any action on the Lister, since they're not willing to do anything with it on their own.

My point is that if we're going to have to give LIUNA money anyway, it should be to ensure the Lister is restored, not demolished.

I'm not recommending we pay off LIUNA to sell the Lister, only suggesting that it's an option worth considering if it means convincing LIUNA to remove itself as a bottleneck. It's also an option that could conceivably save the city a lot of money over the office lease deal, which was already very expensive before LIUNA's latest price hike.

Another option is expropriating the Lister, though I'm no expert on this and have read that it may be a difficult, expensive route. I prefer this option in principle, but I'd ultimately have to support the least expensive route to a restored building.

"What if there is no developer willing to buy the lister?"

I don't think that will be a problem. Several developers and architects have expressed interest in buying the Lister. The problem is that LIUNA doesn't want to sell. That's why I call on LIUNA to show some good faith and put the Lister up for sale if they're not prepared to spend their own money restoring it (or even rebuilding it, for that matter).

Mark wrote, "LIUNA is responsible for the deterioration of Lister? So, I suppose the block was in good shape until 1999."

The previous owner, Metrus, evicted all the clients in the mid-1990s and failed to maintain the building. LIUNA bought it in 1999 to cash in on some federal largesse, and then completely neglected the building once that deal fell though. The city didn't enforce property standards with either tenant.

Statius wrote, "This is why I think it might be in our best interests if the community were to accept the disappointment for the time being and focus its collective efforts at core renewal elsewhere."

It's not simply a matter of finding a different location for reinvestment. The Lister occupies a very prominent position on a major street in the heart of the city and its continued dereliction has a negative effect on its surroundings.

There are plenty of empty lots on which to construct new buildings, including a parking lot right across the street, but new constructions in other locations, while welcome and desirable, won't counteract that negative effect.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 09, 2008 at 22:38:11

Baystreeter.... the Spectator is NOT right. In fact, they are scraping the surface of one of their lowest points ever. Some of the trashiest, untrue articles I've ever read have been published this week. They kiss LIUNA's rear-end trying to make them sound like such marvelous folks who have done everything right. And city hall is the bad guy. Yea, city hall bent over backwards for these guys - agreed to the most expensive lease in Hamilton history. Fought for an extra $7 mil from the province. And then LIUNA goes and pulls this unethical move. After all the so-called good faith and hard negotiating work they pull this off. I'm glad I cancelled my Spec subscription last month and don't have to stare at this crap on my front porch. I can log on later in the day once I build up the nerve to see their latest stab at 'journalism'. Builders/Developers are their largest advertisers. Sadly, they allow that to take precedent over reporting factual news.

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By statius (registered) | Posted January 09, 2008 at 23:44:56

jason,

You write: "Builders/Developers are their largest advertisers. Sadly, they allow that to take precedent over reporting factual news." This is rubbish - typical of the sort of broad assumptions and baseless accusations people make on this site all the time. Consumer retail is, in most years, actually the largest industry sector advertiser at the Spectator, with EHR being their single most valuable customer. Builders/developers do of course spend considerable amounts at the paper, but this revenue is more sporadic and the paper certainly does not rely upon it.

While it is a common allegation by members of the reading public that newspapers bend their editorial stance to suit the needs of their advertisers, journalism in first world countries is still very much governed by a relatively strict code of ethics which proscribes the intermingling of business interest and editorial stance (it is also generally governed by regulatory statute, but I won't go into that). The Spectator, which admittedly has declined in quality under the depridations of Metroland (Torstar) business leadership, still very much considers itself to be governed by this code. If you know anyone who works at the paper, you too would know this (I should mention that my grandfather spent the majority of his career at the paper, so if you want to accuse me of bias, go ahead). The fact of the matter is that while journalistic/editorial ethics are certainly open to abuse, and certainly are abused from time to time, this is a rather rare occurrence, and manifests itself in ways much more subtle than you think. Professional journalists and editors really are more conscientious than you imagine. It is in their best interests to be so, for (to paraphrase Tony Burman) credibility and reputation are the only real capital that any news organization has. This capital is exceedingly hard-earned, and no major newspaper (yes, the Spec still is a major regional paper, at least by numbers) would squander it by blatantly towing the line of an advertiser, particularly one of only moderate importance.

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By statius (registered) | Posted January 09, 2008 at 23:51:05

Just to preclude any confusion, I don't mean to suggest in my above comments that statutory regimes govern the news media in a substantive way. The regulation is usually procedural, as in CRTC licensing, etc. (although it has been argued that such procedural regulation does creep into the substantive realm).

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By baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 07:28:46

Statius you make a lot of sense. You should be running the city.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 08:37:56

kind of sad to recall the good old days when 'first world media' actually did their job properly. You're probably one of the last hold-outs who still thinks they are.

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By MediaWatch (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 10:18:38

There are so many media abuses across this city and province and country and world that it would be laughable if it were not as serious as it is.
That is why alternative media is good. Not because it is faultless (just look at some of the blather on RTH) but at least it provides an alternative.
I would agree with Statius, however, that the main media governs itself according to a code of ethics. But we shouldn't confuse ethics with slant or bias. To wit: the Toronto Sun versus The Star/Spec. Both governed by 'ethics', and both slant the same stories in much different ways. The trick is to understand this.
Similarily with RTH. Many worthwhile writers-all politically biased. The trick is to know this...read everything, inform yourself and make up your own mind.
Jason, you are falling into the trap of only believing whoever tells the story to confirm your own beliefs. Broaden your perspective. It will transorm you from cynic to critic in the pure sense of the word! Very liberating.
ta ta

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By statius (registered) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 11:34:02

MediaWatch,

I couldn't agree more. The fact that ideological bias exists in the major media is indisputable. In fact, it is to be expected, and to some extent cannot even be considered a violation of journalistic ethics (you only have to educate yourself very slightly as a news consumer to detect this). This is quite different from a news organization catering its editorial stance to suit the needs of its major advertisers (such accusations are often made, but these do tend to originate from paranoid fringe perspectives).

As for alternative media, their ideological biases are almost invariably more blatant than those of the major media (often intentionally so, seeing as how they tend to cater to niche markets). The concern with so many of these outlets is is that their ideological predispositions, because so shameless, have a tendency to undermine the integrity of their analysis ...

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 12:25:08

media watch...great comments.

the biggest difference between 'indy' media and the big guys is simple: money. yes, you see definite slants and angles from the writers at RTH. The agenda is to make Hamilton a better place. We have no money involved. We don't have advertisers. We aren't paid. We're citizens with families and jobs who do this for one reason - we care about Hamilton. Don't minimize the massive effect that has on media. Big media can only say or print what the big money allows them to. I've spoken with current employees at CHCH and asked them why they don't do a story on x topic or x scandal. They've all replied the same thing - the station would never allow it. "I've tried before and by the time the editors are done with it, the piece isn't worth showing" etc.... money talks. and in our case at RTH, no money allows us to talk for the good of Hamilton.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2008 at 12:50:44

Further to Jason's comment, the principal effect of advertising on newsmedia is not so much a blatant bias as a subtle chill effect on what it will cover and how it will frame editorial opinions.

In the case of the Spec, its core business model is marketing big houses, new vehicles and consumer durables (furniture and electronics) to middle class women age 35-55.

The paper is also a "Platinum Partner" of the Hamilton Halton Home Builders Association (HHHBA), a property developers lobbying group that promotes that industry's interests in local government and the media.

How can the paper be expected to report the activities of the HHHBA objectively when their financial survival depends on keeping the HHHBA members happy?

This reflects not a "paranoid fringe perspective" but a basic understanding of how economics works. Newspapers make money by selling a product (eyeballs) to their customers (advertisers), and a paper will simply not stay in business if it alienates its customers.

A couple of years ago, the Spec published an excellent investigative report on the airport and its secretive contract with the city. A week later, the editor-in-chief wrote a column expressing shock and outrage at the criticism and pressure "some quarters of Hamilton's 'establishment'" put on him for conducting the investigation in the first place.

I wrote about it at the time (unfortunately the Spec link is no longer active):

http://raisethehammer.org/article/303/

It's naive to think a newspaper's dependence on advertising revenue plays no role in its editorial decisions despite its best efforts (and I know enough people in journalism to know they really are doing their best) to be objective and fair.

In terms of an agenda at RTH, of course we have one, and we're quite open about it. We're advocacy journalists, not straight reporters, and we make no secret of that. In terms of transparency and accountability, we do the following:

  • We state our agenda clearly and explicitly.

  • We do our best to argue from evidence and sound reasoning and take countervailing evidence into account.

  • We cite our sources wherever possible so you can check whether we're representing them fairly.

  • We allow uncensored, unmoderated commenting on every article and blog entry (we only delete spam).

  • We respond in comments and in subsequent articles to information and arguments we received from readers.

Of course we're not perfect - no person is. However, we believe that the best way to get closer to the truth with limited resources is to encourage wider engagement and participation, open discussion, and informal peer review.

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By statius (registered) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 14:14:10

"This reflects not a "paranoid fringe perspective" but a basic understanding of how economics works. Newspapers make money by selling a product (eyeballs) to their customers (advertisers), and a paper will simply not stay in business if it alienates its customers."

I would like to agree with this proposition, as the logic of your argument is attractively simple, but the problem with allegations of editorial advertising partisanship in media (as opposed to political partisanship) is a surprisingly consistent inability of researchers to satisfactorily quantify such claims (i.e. to convincingly demonstrate bias through comprehensive content analysis) in such a way as to stand up to the sort of scrutiny necessary to ground empirical study. One of the major difficulties with the argument has been that major news organizations are rarely as consistent in their editorial line as detractors would like to believe. Another is the fact that a good number of very strong empirical analyses of media content actually display a marked anti-business, pro-regulation, consumer rights bias in contemporary media content. This fact, if it does not disprove, at least calls into question the proposition that the reliance on advertising by major media has a substantive effect on editorial content. Donald Sutter wrote a good article along the same lines a few years ago in the AJES. That being said, I tend to agree that it is hard to resist the inference that advertisers do have some impact on editorial decisions. But it is possible to respond to this inference by reference to the effective "division of powers" which exists (or at least appears to exist) in most solid media organizations. Certainly in the days of Hearst, Pulitzer and Luce the people who made the business decisions at major media organizations were also the ones who made the editorial decisions, but this is rarely the case today.

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By statius (registered) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 15:10:56

Oh ... I think I should mention that my remark about "paranoid fringe perspectives" (in my response to MediaWatch) was intended to be a bit tongue-in-cheek.

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By MediaWatch (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 18:29:40

Good discussion all around. I think that Ryan lists fairly what RTH tries to do but it does more than that, of course. In trying to support your admitted bias, you also take great pains sometimes to overly criticize opposing points of you, even though you say you welcome them. And that too is part of the discourse.
Also, you may really want to study the nature of editorial freedom versus corporate responsibility in the news media. I would submit to you that there really is a division of powers between the Publisher's responsibilities and the Editor's and columnists and reporters responsibilities. In fact, locally I see a real slant by the reporters on the left side of the political equation. (It wasn't always so witht the Spec, by the way.) As for TV, I'm afraid that the talent pool and editorial freedom is quite shallow here, unlike say the CBC with grander budgets to explore or W5, Fifth Estate type programs.

Not that I'm overly capitalistic about things, in fact almost the opposite. But we do live in a capitalist society and the honest pursuit of money is not a bad thing in our world. And just because The Spec has to meet some financial obligations to its staff and shareholders should not and does not diminish its independence to tell stories.
No, the journalistic faux pas that I see and transgressions have to do with lazy journalism that only tell part of the story rather than the whole story. The Spec issue on the airport was one such lazy story. It created a scenario of secretiveness which in the final analysis did not hold water. That story was lazy in that it didn't go back to first principles in explaining the context of the story. It was a bit of an axe job. I love axe jobs, by the way. It's just that we must call a spade...er an axe an axe when we see one.
The same thing was done by that journalist on the port if you remember and McMaster Medical school (this may have been another journalist but the same tactics were used).
So, I'm all for freedom of the press, but I am also for responsible freedom. But most of all I'm for informed media consumers.

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By Pinto (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 20:45:31

Ryan I really enjoy reading RTH but I agree with mediawatch that your sometimes too harsh to your critics ... especially to Statius ...

I don't agree with a lot of things he's said on here but he is obviously an intelligent person and offers a refreshing change of tone and opinion to RTH ... but yet you come down on him like a ton of bricks and I'm just glad he's strong enough to fight back! it sems more professional to me when the editor just respectfully disagrees and then moves on to more important things (feuding and arguing each other to the death after a point has already been made is not an important thing IMO!)

Besides I am assuming he is a lawyer so he will just keep arguing you into the ground even if he does not believe what he posts!

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By statius (registered) | Posted January 10, 2008 at 21:55:23

Pinto,

I do appreciate your kind remarks but I sincerely hope that Ryan does not heed your advice. One of the cardinal strengths of this site, and of alternative media sources generally, is the ability and willingness of editors and staff to engage regularly and vigorously in debate with the readership. RTH would lose one of its primary attractions if Ryan were to "just respectfully disagree" and cease debating with myself and other posters simply on the basis of some extraneous notion of "professionalism". This is not a newspaper. And even so, I do believe that most editors in the major media, being by nature a rather contentious bunch, would readily engage in protracted debate with their critics if they had the time, patience, etc. to do so.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 11, 2008 at 00:14:18

Some very engaging commentary on this thread.

Statius wrote, "the problem with allegations of editorial advertising partisanship in media (as opposed to political partisanship) is a surprisingly consistent inability of researchers to satisfactorily quantify such claims"

It may be hard to quantify empirically but it certainly happens. Here's a high-profile example: In 1997, FOX News went to court against its own reporters to defend its right to lie about safety concerns related to a Monsanto product (bovine growth hormone) in an investigative report, after Monsanto threatened to withdraw its advertising business.

However, just like insider trading is easier to spot than insider non-trading, it's harder to quantify empirically the stories not investigated, questions not asked, and perspectives not aired through the chill effect and institutional self-censorship of the corporate media.

I know several journalists and columnists, and most have mentioned at one time or another that they do their best in an institutional culture that is interested in some questions but not others. Columnists I've talked with have described getting in trouble from management for writing pieces that were too critical of the establishment.

The journalists who survive in the business are those who do what they're told, ask the right questions, and know how to pick their fights (this is broadly true of any occupation).

FOX News killing the Monsanto BGH story was significant because it was overt and deliberate. How many stories are killed before they are even articulated through unconscious self-censorship, bolstered by the selection and promotion of columnists and editors who already reflect the corporate value system and can therefore be trusted with freedom to write what they want?

Again, look at the Spec's coverage of the Lister saga. There's virtually no mention at all of the role LIUNA itself has played in letting the Lister block deteriorate in the first place, or of the role the city played in allowing this by not enforcing property standards.

Instead, all we get is a columnist (and member of the editorial board) calling LIUNA a "a respected player in this community" and an editorial saying the city and province should not interfere with LIUNA's demolition plans if it can't provide "a realistic, properly financed proposal for Lister Block restoration".

Amid all the calls for the government to stop blocking progress, there's virtually no mention of the pivotal fact that LIUNA refuses to do anything with the building unless it gets government money to do so (so much for the free market).

MediaWatch wrote, "there really is a division of powers between the Publisher's responsibilities and the Editor's and columnists and reporters responsibilities."

Certainly. That's basic division of labour, which allocates expertise where it can be most effective and increases productivity in general. A media company would be foolish not to do this.

It's also true that journalists and editors work according to high professional codes of conduct, a high value on objectivity, rigorous standards for sources, and so on.

All these things are very positive and help produce a professional culture that takes pride in the serious civic responsibility that attends journalism.

Nevertheless, it doesn't change the fact that a news corporation's business model is going to provide a framework within which those professionals have to work. Again, a business cannot survive by alienating its customers, and the media are no different.

Statius drew a distinction between "ideological bias" and editorial deference to the sensibilities of advertisers. I would argue by way of bridging our small difference of opinion that the latter is an intrinsic element of the former.

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By statius (registered) | Posted January 11, 2008 at 11:59:06

If I have time I would like to offer a more thorough response later, but for the time being let me say that I think FOX News, while indeed a major media organization, can fairly be classified as an exception to the general rule of editorial independence. In some sense I think it stands as a holdover from the "days of Hearst, Pulitzer, and Luce" which I reference above. The tactics and practices of FOX, I believe, are generally acknowledged, and decried, as being out of step with the principles which tend to govern major media.

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By brodiec (registered) | Posted January 11, 2008 at 14:40:22

There are archival photos by I believe Loonsbury Realtors of Lister during the 90s when businesses were still functioning in the building and renting the ground floor units. Fact is that the building was in decent repair for quite a long time leading up to the sale to LIUNA. It was not in GOOD shape but it was not even near to the state of disrepair that resulted from the LIUNA sale. It's totally clear to anyone willing to do the research that LIUNA was waiting for a public handout to repair the building. Which is a clear sign of bad faith in business. Worst of all the city was complacent with this and allowed for the Lister to stew without enforcing property standards.

I think we have to start looking at Lister with a broader scope and start outlining what all parties involved have done wrong in regards to downtown revitalization. The City of Hamilton should not be involved as a property developer. I don't think there is any proven case where a city re-develops it's downtown with public money and is successful long term. If that were the case Jackson Square would have been a booming success. It clearly is not and is in fact the first major symptom of the City of Hamilton mixing it's business. The city should be concern with the running of a city. A crazy notion, I know.

For instance of a dearth of parking spots becomes a problem tax parking businesses accordingly to increase density and encourage transit. If derelict buildings are a problem enforce heritage and property standards. For too long the city has depended on public money and developer cronyism to re-develop downtown and drive the economic engine. This has FAILED so miserably that there is no denying that continuing down this path will only lead to a more thoroughly blighted downtown and overall city.

Let's get our tax dollars out of developers like Hi-Rise and LIUNA's pockets and into programs for the enforcement of property standards, systems of FUNDING for private developers and infrastructure that makes a city useful even, gasp, profitable! At this point even if Lister is developed with public money for public offices I don't think it bodes particularly well for downtown. Not if we were able to make downtown the sort of investment developers will spend THEIR OWN MONEY ON as opposed to public dollar. Public dollars we need DEARLY to build transit, fight poverty, prevent disease and preserve our natural environment.

Come ON Hamilton, start working like a real city and stop these loser city economics. You're worth it, now walk the walk!

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By kevin (registered) | Posted January 11, 2008 at 17:14:52

LIUNA bought a heritage building and has been breaking the law ever since.

I didn't know I moved to Banana Republic.

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By baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2008 at 00:44:47

Kevin, you are a banana. For the record when Liuna bought the building it was not heritage designated. They bought an empty building. To this day there is no provincial designation on the building....get rid of the junk!

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By woodster (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2008 at 04:59:01

Kevin, even the mafia operates in a banana republic. Using LIUNA and Law in the same sentence issurely an oxymoron.

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By baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted January 13, 2008 at 09:40:27

If Kevin is a banana woodster is a doorknob. It sure is easier to lie about organizations than it is to face the truth. Stop watching so many reruns of Goodfellas, my good fellows.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 13, 2008 at 13:51:13

You don't have to watch Goodfellas, you just have to read the paper:

www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060828.wxbarber28/BNStory/National/home

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By council watch (anonymous) | Posted January 13, 2008 at 15:53:58

baystreeter, it helps to have a librry card. Woodster is right on!

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By baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted January 13, 2008 at 16:20:57

The same newspaper highwater that you guys keep saying is not telling the truth?
Regardless, they own a decrepit building. Tear it down and build something new. Even the papers said so.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 13, 2008 at 20:50:32

Baystreeter, the Lister is certainly not a decrepit building, if by "decrepit" you mean too deteriorated to repair.

Every architect who has inspected it, including the architects LIUNA hired, have agreed that the building is both structurally sound (John Mokrycke said it's "built like a bomb shelter" and a good candidate for restoration and adaptive reuse. In fact, it's so well-made that a restored building would actually last longer than a reconstructed one.

In any case, it looks like LIUNA, Hi Rise and the city have come to a new agreement. There was a brief notice in Saturday's Spectator:

http://www.thespec.com/article/308523

More to come as we learn the details.

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By baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted January 13, 2008 at 22:00:48

Thanks for the clarification. I will believe it when I see it but if it happens the champagne will be on me. Something needs to be done.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 14, 2008 at 12:57:17

Who's ever said the Globe doesn't tell the truth?

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By baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2008 at 13:13:21

Now you are talking Highwater. I love the globe. It takes me 45min to do their puzzle. It only takes 5 mins to do the Spec's. It's all downhill after that, I'm afraid for both papers.
However, the Lister must go...or stay, but not in that shape. Moaning and groaning ain't gonna bring it back...action will. And money of course.

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