Cars are parked on the site of the former office building in apparent violation of a standing moratorium on new surface parking downtown.
By Ryan McGreal
Published December 06, 2013
Cars were parked on freshly poured asphalt this morning on the site of the former three-storey office building at 20 Jackson Street West, in apparent violation of a municipal by-law banning new surface parking lots.
Cars parked on the site of the demolished building at 20 Jackson Street West
Cars are clearly parked directly on the site of the building
The property, owned by property management company Wilson-Blanchard, was demolished this fall after a demolition permit was issued on October 2.
Rumours swirled for months that the building was going to come down and be replaced with parking, and as of today the rumour is confirmed.
Pile of rubble at 20 Jackson Street West in early November (RTH file photo)
However, it is illegal to demolish a building in the downtown area of Hamilton and turn the site into a parking lot.
A by-law moratorium on demolition-into-parking was put into effect a little over a decade ago, ironically after the same property owner demolished the former Canada Permanent building on James Street across from the Pigott Building.
According to Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr, Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) staff have been alerted to the situation and will be investigating. Farr has also "requested that the property owners be contacted and reminded of the moratorium in the area."
According to the City, no plans have been submitted to construct anything new on the site. Before the tenants were evicted and the building demolished, it was an occupied three-storey office building with a coffee shop on the main floor.
Huge swaths of the downtown core have been demolished and left as surface parking and vacant lots, due to property owners demolishing buildings and not replacing them with anything new.
Wilson-Blanchard also owns the buildings at 18-28 King Street East, which are under an active demolition permit. The building facades were removed in the summer and the open interiors of the buildings are exposed to the element.
Heritage advocates argue that the buildings qualify to be designated under the *Ontario Heritage Act*. The City has been negotiating with the property owner about possible heritage designation of the facades, and has offered $1 million on heritage preservation grants.
In a recent *Spectator* article, co-owner David Blanchard is quoted saying it would cost $2 million to preserve the building fronts.
"If we preserve the façades, we would like it to be revenue neutral," Blanchard said. "If we spend an extra million dollars on that alone, I don't see how we'd ever get it back."
Several studies into the economics of heritage prevervation have found that the money spent preserving heritage produces a positive net return on investment.
Exposed fronts of 18-28 King Street East (RTH file photo)
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