Cranespotting

Cranespotting, Christmas 2011 Edition

It's possible that more cranes currently tower over the Hammer than any time since the 1970s.

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published December 21, 2011

It's possible that more cranes currently tower over the Hammer than any time since the 1970s. Let's just begin.

Staybridge Suites

This is probably the most anticipated crane downtown. The Staybridge Suites hotel is under construction by Vrancor at 68 George Street.

It's not the most most exciting - a bit stock design - but we'll take it. The rumour is that the City actually had to ease up on its height restriction to allow this towering hotel - the same type that you see a few times between every exit along the QEW, from four floors to top out at six.

It appears Vrancor made a mistake and pushed it to seven floors. I wish his mistake went another 12 floors. Anyway, the Hammer can rejoice in this.

Photo credit to wareg75 over at skyscraperpage
Photo credit to wareg75 over at skyscraperpage

Hey BigBee, why don't you guys go make like a big bee and build an urban supermarket for downtown?

Photo much appreciated from Dwils01 at SSP showing the topping out.
Photo much appreciated from Dwils01 at SSP showing the topping out.

No hope for a curtain wall on those structural exteriors, but it sure beats a parking lot. We'll end up with facade stucco, siding or half-brick. That's okay, though: it'll be turned into a seniors' housing centre in eight years anyway.

Moving on.

City Square Parkside

This is a beauty on the site of the former and historic Thistle Athlete Club Racquet Ball club thing. The old building was a modest red brick, but big - it occupied an entire block in Hamilton's downtown, picturesque, exclusive but-not-so, lovely and sought-after Durand neighbourhood.

She's so lovely.
She's so lovely.

This neighourhood rarely sees a "for sale" realtor sign, for as much as it costs to gain entry to Hamilton's version of the Annex or Rosedale, the properties are sold before the sign hits the ground.

There is still time to make this neighbourhood your home address as the condo prices steadily rise. I may be wrong but this baby's first phase may be sold out already. There will be a second tower coming soon.

Unfortunately, this building was also clipped at the knees from Hamilton's ridiculous height limits. I don't get when Hamilton allows a 43-floor Century 21 regional office and mixed residential building in 1974, but then prohibits Harry Stinson soaring can't soar over 10 floors. Not to mention forbidding him from building to the same build-to line, in case the city decides to make Main Street even wider.

But I digress. There are towers surrounding City Square Parkside that may be taller, but none are so lovely and modern. Enjoy these pics thanks again to Dwils01.

Great massing here. I love the mansions and scrapers in the background. Durand rules.
Great massing here. I love the mansions and scrapers in the background. Durand rules.

Next on the list...

Urban West Condos

Dwils01 is still doing a fantastic job keeping us informed. It doesn't get much better than to see a one-storey Tim Horton's leveled to make room for a infill condo development.

Urban West condos at Aberdeen and Dundurn.
Urban West condos at Aberdeen and Dundurn.

This lovely structure will top out at seven floors, but this time I won't be so vexatious over the height. This is density in a dense vibrant neighbourhood: the tower shares a laneway with its southern neighbour, another '70s tower.

You want increasing density? You want to know what the next Locke Street is? Where the next Ottawa Street is? It's Dundurn.

Great pour.
Great pour.

St. Joseph's Mountain Centre for Health

When it comes to cranes and quantity, nothing in my lifetime has seen such a site as the St. Joseph's Mountain Health Centre at West 5th and Fennell.

St Joseph's Mountain Centre for Health
St Joseph's Mountain Centre for Health

Another view.
Another view.

Thanks to Dwils01 again for this. I don't know how he got this photo, because he/she must've climbed a tree for that particular vantage point.

This new hospital is replacing the former Hamilton Pyschiatric Hospital (HPH). Not too often is a new hospital built, but this honey of bunny structure is a new thing. With new services, jobs and facilities to serve an under-serviced area of healthcare, that is mental healthcare.

I was driving along Fennell and glanced over at some of these cranes. There are multiple cranes, including a cool-looking zigzag crane structure, but unfortunately I could not take a pic. The view for crane/construction lovers is magnificient from the Mohawk College Fennell entrance. In the meantime, enjoy these pics from Dwils01.


Still not sure how Dwils got this pic. But for now, allow me to allow it to be entered into history, because this building is moving fast.

I'm not sure how tall it will be, probably in the two- to five-floor institutional range. Crane-city, man.

Mystery Crane

To round up this segment, there is a mysterious crane. Yes, a mysterious crane in Hamilton. This baby rises from behind Centre Maul.

Thanks again to Dwils01.
Thanks again to Dwils01.

It's a monster, clearly seen from Hamilton's east end. I mean, it is a tall, lean, sexy building-raising machine, but what is it building?

I think it sits over Dofasco, but beyond that, I can only present you with a final fine photo from Dwils01.


Trey lives in Williamsville NY via Hamilton. He is a Marketing Manager for Tourism and Destination Marketing in the Buffalo-Niagara Metro.

His essays have appeared in The Energy Bulletin, Post Carbon Institute, Peak Oil Survival, and Tree Hugger.

And can't wait for the day he stops hearing "on facebook".

44 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By DavidColacci (registered) | Posted December 21, 2011 at 23:01:49

What is with these silly height restrictions!?!

Permalink | Context

By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 08:23:22 in reply to Comment 72470

Talk to neighbourhood associations, specifically the Durane Neighbourhood Association, about to enter its 40th year. Despite the DNA's numerous successes, there are also inconsistencies, and the Thistle Club site would still be a mud lot if the development discussion was still on the tenor of the late 80s, when that development saga began.

http://www.durandna.com/history.htm

As for the Staybridge? It's, well, a hotel. Adding 12 floors would have changed the project costs and therefore timeline, which would mean that you'd be currently looking at a dirt lot with a fence around it. Despite the self-interested spin of Tourism Hamilton, downtown hotel capacity is only an issue when the city is hosting major conferences or large sporting invitationals downtown.

In general, though, demand is pretty thin, generally hovering around 50% occupancy, which is below London, K/W/Cambridge/Guelph, the entirety of the GTA and the provincial average. That's one reason why the Connaught is doing so well and the Crowne Plaza owner cut bait to go work on the mountain. (Your diagnosis of the Hamilton Grand, another dirt lot, is up to you.) And of course, Mr. Vranich also owns the 18-storey Sheraton two blocks to the NE, which creates ample reason not to be unduly competitive.

In general, though, it's easier to overcome zoning restrictions than neighbourhood objections.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 10:03:43 in reply to Comment 72477

Molinaro Group wanted to build a condo tower at Thistle Club but was opposed by the DNA, so they sold the site to the current developer. If not for the DNA, we'd have a new 20+ storey condo tower already built on that site.

Molinaro instead is focusing on Burlington (one of our suburbs) where they are allowed to go 20-30 stories. Heck, even suburban Burlington (oxymoron?) is getting a sharp looking 16 storey condo tower as we speak: http://www.ironstonecondominiums.com/

And we already know about the ultimate suburban ring in Peel region - Mississuaga is going for taller buildings now after realizing the error of their low-density ways. Even Brampton is allowing taller development than Hamilton: http://www.lovelivingdowntownbrampton.co...

Oh, and the sleepy town of supposed NIMBY's - Oakville: http://raincondosoakville.ca/

Hamilton is truly at risk of being left behind once again if we don't ease up on the red-tape ticker parade. It's fine to have neighbourhood associations, and they can do good work in ensuring good design etc.... but to simply oppose anything over 9 stories because a few people think that's a good idea is a wrong way to run a city. We have a 43 storey tower at Main and Catharine that we built in the 70's. Now we won't allow 15 or 20 stories??

Even the short, modest proposal right downtown at King and Queen is being taken to the OMB and one of the objections is height. Some local NIMBY's want it shrunk to 6 floors from an already short 12 floors, despite Queen north and south having several 20+ storey buildings from the 70's.
Most cities try to go taller with time and build their core neighbourhoods and skyline. We're trying to do the opposite.

Permalink | Context

By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 03, 2012 at 15:18:32 in reply to Comment 72484

Well said Jason.

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2011 at 16:44:24 in reply to Comment 72484

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 22:32:46 in reply to Comment 72505

you're against adding high quality density in downtown Hamilton?

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 24, 2011 at 18:22:19 in reply to Comment 72509

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-12-24 18:26:56

Permalink | Context

By TnT (registered) | Posted December 29, 2011 at 11:29:06 in reply to Comment 72527

Oh I hope you are dead wrong.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted December 21, 2011 at 23:14:46

Height restrictions make sense... in some neighbourhoods. Downtown? Not so much. Perhaps if market demand gets stronger, the city will have to revisit certain zoning restrictions.

There are also several cranes at the Woodward Ave. water treatment plants.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 21, 2011 at 23:28:11

The city will never hit it's density targets with current height restrictions.

I get that they don't want 40 story buildings in the middle of residential neighbourhoods, like we had happen in the 70s, but to limit new buildings in and around those areas to 7 or 12 stories is nonsense. It's like someone just painted the height restrictions across downtown haphazardly, failing to consider the character of the actual neighbourhoods.

Same with that stupid potential widening of Main St. If they ever widen Main Street through the downtown I think I will have to move out of Hamilton.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By rednic (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 06:41:40

'behind Centre Maul.' um thanks that was really woke me up! ... know to change the signs along barton to the new spelling!

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2011 at 11:01:37 in reply to Comment 72474

I really wish there was a mall on Garth street.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 22:34:49 in reply to Comment 72490

Garth is mostly houses, but there is a mall down Mohawk. More like a plaza - Westcliffe I think? Limeridge is close though...why a mall on Garth??

Permalink | Context

By TreyS (registered) | Posted December 29, 2011 at 12:27:29 in reply to Comment 72510

Westcliffe is an interior mall at Upper Paradise. It's actually a decent mall considering it's midway between Lime Ridge and Meadowlands it does fairly well, even though the LCBO left it for Meadowlands. And the Mall suffered another loss with the removal of the weekly Bookmobile stop, but still this little mall chugs along.

An interior mall like Westcliffe was a respite for me when my children were young and in the middle of cabin fever in February, it was at least a place to go for a couple hours and let the children loose somewhere other than a living room. It became our second living room, walk around the dollar store, visit the bookmobile, get a pizza, roam Home Hardware and the video store, pick up some essentials at the Rexall and supermarket, dream about a vacation in TripCentral. It's quiet and small enough to be able to do that, not like Lime Ridge where the children would be run over by mad shoppers. And Meadowlands isn't a mall so it's useless for that kind of strolling around.

When I lived in PEI, Westcliffe would've been considered a huge mall.

Garth has the Shoppers plaza at Garrow, there is no place to put a mall.

Comment edited by TreyS on 2011-12-29 12:37:27

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 30, 2011 at 13:28:52 in reply to Comment 72558

Okay, time to put this to bed: It was a pun. A bad pun. rednic said "behind Centre maul" with the violent homophone used in the place of "mall".

Maul is also the title of a star wars character Darth Maul. Hence my request for a Garth Mall. See?

Aaaaand now I've taken the joke out back behind the chemical sheds and shot it.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted December 31, 2011 at 09:44:57 in reply to Comment 72613

LOL. that went right over my head, but very well done. I knew I was missing something...kept thinking 'there has to be more between the lines that I'm missing than a random request for a mall on Garth'.

Permalink | Context

By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted December 30, 2011 at 18:39:46 in reply to Comment 72613

I actually thought the same thing and got a kick out of your posts.

I also learned a few things from the responses of the others, since the West Mountain is an area I don't really know well. But those weren't the factoids you were looking for... move along, move along.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 28, 2011 at 11:35:14 in reply to Comment 72510

Just ask my friend Jed. I might think other neighborhoods are lording their commercial successes over the Garth Mall, but such a thing could be the first episode of a new hope for the mountain. Maybe they could even get a stadium one day too? That would make us see the neighborhood in a new light. Sabres playing any time soon?

/I'm a terrible person.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 08:00:45

"Hey BigBee, why don't you guys go make like a big bee and build an urban supermarket for downtown?"

I wouldn't imagine it'd go much further east than the current Big Bee (The Barn, while further north, was only on the other side of the street, for example.)

Hopefully it'd be more than just a supersized BB. Occasional use takes the sting out of convenience store pricing, but for regular grocery shopping, it'd be a real drag.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By this is not about LRT (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 10:48:48

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2011 at 11:07:25

Totally agree on Dundurn... and a part of me hates that fact. I hate it because I know that when Dundurn takes off, Vrancor is going to make a goddamned mint off of whatever they do with 220 Dundurn, that damnable eyesore that is half the reason Dundurn hasn't taken off. The man who is doing the most damage to the area stands the most to gain when it succeeds in spite of him.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By not really surprised (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 11:19:41

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By MarieAnge (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 12:58:55

The Durand neighborhood will never be the same again. We have very little parking as it is. The Charlton Ave and Bay st section surrounding this building are already busy as all get out during rush hour. This influx of new residents is only going to compound the existing problems of high traffic, one way streets, lack of parking, noise pollution and more fumes. Yes the condo will have in-house parking, but there are always extra vehicles from people visiting, etc... As for traffic, most of these new residents will be adding cars to the already glutted streets during rush hour.

The company putting up this building is using the proximity to downtown and the Go station as a plus for prospective buyers. Having lived in this neighborhood for almost 8 years now, I see very few people actually walking downtown or to the Go station, but many riding their car. Will this bring an hsr route change or addition? Bay street south could use a bus running down its' length to the downtown core. And since these buildings are being promoted as a great family environment, again, can the local school handle the influx of students?

The only good thing I can see is that our park will finally be used to its' full capacity.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 22:38:33 in reply to Comment 72498

With all due respect, I don't agree with this at all. Having lived in Durand and still being in Durand many times a week I find that it's streets have some of the lowest traffic volumes in the lower city, which is amazing considering it's density. Sure, the hospital drives traffic on Charlton/Herkimer and the Mountain Access drives traffic on James, but other than that, Durand is a great place to walk or cycle. Very low and slow traffic. I agree a bus on Bay would make sense, along with wider sidewalks, but in the mornings there is a steady stream of folks walking downtown from Durand. Ditto for the afternoon and then the evening shopping/dining/nightlife crowd. More quality condos will add even more people to the streets and hopefully sustain more businesses on James, King etc....

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2011 at 17:28:45 in reply to Comment 72498

I used to live at 200 bay and never found the traffic bad. The parking, I agree... but that was more a matter of supply and demand, and the fact that the City didn't put enough meters up to properly manage the supply. The only times I had trouble was when I was inviting guests.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 23:15:13 in reply to Comment 72507

funny you should mention that. I had a friend who lived there and a few of us would go over to play squash and swim once a week. I always had no problem getting a parking spot right on Bay St, directly in front of the building. Didn't matter if it was morning or evening, the times I was there with a car, parking was a snap.

Permalink | Context

By jacob (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 16:05:23 in reply to Comment 72498

wow you are spinning a tangled web of hyperbole. As another Durand resident, let me add a completely opposite view: there is a steady stream of people walking along Bold, Robinson, Duke, and Hunter to the Go station and downtown, at almost all hours of the day. Bay is a busy street, yes, so are Herkimer and Hunter, but they only feel busy because they're screaming one-way racetracks, especially Bay because it's downhill. There will be absolutely no difference to those streets because of this development, The only gridlock you get in the whole neighbourhood is a bit on Queen and James during rush hour, and that's people going to and from the Mountain. I can be on the highway in 3 minutes almost anytime of the day, and that's ridiculous; if it were Toronto it would take 10. Yes there will also be the 'fumes' and noise of 300 extra bodies: get over it or move to the country. That's what a city is all about. As for parking, here's the fix: charge for it. No more free parking.

As for your post Pxtl about Vrancor, I'd say it should be getting a little tougher for people to vent about Vranich. The man has spent a boatload more cash in downtown in the last few years than any other developer. I don't think he's a good person or cares about anything other than the bottom line, but at least he's doing something. The fault for 220 Dundurn is the stupid vacant building rebate, and that's a provincial law. But blaming a developer for sitting on a property is like blaming a vulture for eating a carcass.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By paradox of intensification (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 13:44:36

You described some of the negative results of intensification that were laid out here very well

https://tx.proxfree.com/page.php?get=yfI9bB%2B8NNXA%2BTXBblWtCpwyZgDNMLB%2FQohSgq1z1XzpE1%2BgEz%2B4CmZM3KcAAsyJZNj0FUBtLDdlBsWErDXDjg%3D%3D&sa=d23b7bced8&bit=1

Permalink | Context

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2011 at 16:37:06 in reply to Comment 72500

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted December 22, 2011 at 22:42:18 in reply to Comment 72504

one of the many benefits of intensification:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/cpeppa...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By TreyS (registered) | Posted December 23, 2011 at 01:05:40

I think Durand can totally integrate several 20+floors of density. It handles its density very well right now. Go walk around Durand Park and area on a Saturday/Sunday morning, it's quieter than a West Mountain side street.

If ever there was a parcel of land, sitting in Hamilton waiting for a skyscraper breaking development it was the Thistle Club site. I'm not against what is proposed/being built. But those two towers should be signatures on our skyline in that area. Maybe tower 2 can reneg with the City and try for a taller.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By TreyS (registered) | Posted December 23, 2011 at 01:11:37

And what happened to Durand Park's cherry trees? To me it was my mini version of D.C., even though Durands cherry trees were about a month later in bloom. Please bring back the cherry trees.

Permalink | Context

By Barborist (anonymous) | Posted December 23, 2011 at 11:24:51 in reply to Comment 72515

The lose of trees (and the budgets to maintain the ones we still have) is a huge issue that isn't getting nearly enough attention in Hamilton. In fact, I can't think of a clearer example of our Council being penny-wise pound-foolish than this (and that's saying a lot!).
Check out these CATCH articles... http://hamiltoncatch.org./view_article.php?id=930 and http://hamiltoncatch.org./view_article.php?id=1015 (last paragraph). They only scratch the surface.
Skyscrapers are nice but... I think that will never see a crane as lovely as a tree.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By regulating car ownership (anonymous) | Posted December 23, 2011 at 10:02:08

Actually the suggestion at the end of the lecture was to regulate car ownership within the intensified area not to make driving more difficult. There is a world of difference between the 2 concepts. One would take cars off the road relieving congestion, the other would not remove any cars and would potentially add even more congestion

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 25, 2011 at 08:29:49

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 03, 2012 at 15:36:04

Glad to see some positive residential developments in the dt. It looks like developers are starting to notice some of the potential in Hamilton's dt. However I am concerned that Hamilton is becoming a bedroom of the GTA. Hopefully it won't be long before developers take note of Hamilton's cheap office rentals rates and start constructing/occupying office space in this city. In order for Hamilton to become more sustainable financially we must grow the commercial and industrial tax bases and not rely too much on residential.

Height restrictions have got to go - at least in the downtown core. While I am glad to see that downtown is becoming more dense (as downtowns should be - that's what makes it downtown!) I don't believe in artificial density targets or excessive zoning restrictions that would only drive up real estate costs. People seeking density have the option of living a downtown lifestyle, while people seeking lower density have to choice of suburbs or exurbs.

Happy new year!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted January 04, 2012 at 20:48:11

The Spec had a story today about more potential cranes this year, including one for Harry's Incredible Shrinking Building... just kidding, as it is nice to finally hear some positive news about that site. More joking: should it now be called the "Hamilton Not-as-Grand"?

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

Not sure I'd call this a "boom" yet but it's all relative. The amount of construction activity in the central city is a nice change from only a few years ago, and hopefully the momentum builds (pun intended).

Now if something could just get moving on the Connaught...

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 05, 2012 at 07:53:21 in reply to Comment 72729

Agreed. I'm glad to see construction actually happening now, rather than more 'planned developments' of which we've had too many of over the past few years.

Not holding my breath over the Charlton East redevelopment of the Hamilton Cab site, though...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By TreyS (registered) | Posted January 12, 2012 at 20:43:05

The interesting thing about height restrictions is that they usually exist for a reason.

Montreal has a height restriction, that is buildings must be smaller than Mt. Royal. Fair enough, that still allows for some tall towers in the city.

Vancouver has a height restriction due to earthquakes, similar to Tokyo for the same reason. Not sure if this is valid, has Vancouver checked-out the towers in Seattle or LA?

Ottawa has height restrictions so that no building towers over the Parliament building.

Hamilton... no reason. The City just wanted to make work for themselves. And don't get me started on "parking requirements". I'm not sure what is more stupid, mandatory parking spaces or height restrictions???

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted January 13, 2012 at 10:15:29 in reply to Comment 73009

both are stupid, but I give the nod to parking requirements as the real development killer. Hamilton Parking runs the city...much to our detriment. Yea, height restrictions in Durand are pretty hilarious. City Square can only be 9 stories, across the street from a slew of 20+ storey buildings.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Woody10 (registered) | Posted August 20, 2012 at 01:41:25

Any updates coming soon???

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Dwils01 (anonymous) | Posted August 29, 2012 at 17:40:52

Nice to see my pictures being put to good use. I think almost all of these are mine.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds