Lister Block

A Window on the Lister Deal

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published July 08, 2008

Joe Rinaldo is the acting city manager. He agreed to a brief interview with Trevor Shaw to answer some questions about the recent Lister Block deal with Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA).

Lister Building
Lister Building

Interview with Joe Rinaldo

Trevor Shaw, Raise the Hammer: How much of the $25 million is purchase price and how much is renovation costs?

Joe Rinaldo, City of Hamilton: LIUNA included $2 Million for the cost of the property. The balance is for the Rehabilatation.

RTH: Will there be a complete restoration of the interior mall and retail use on the ground floor?

JR: Yes The original mall will be fully rehabilatated. The use of the ground floor will likely be a combination of retail and office space. The split will be determined by Council as we near construction completion.

RTH: Is there any concern about the Right House losing its last major tennant? Will we be having this same discussion in 15 years with a vacant Right House?

JR: while a final decision on which staff are going to be relocated, it is likely that some of the staff will be relocated from the Right House. Since the Right house is not designated as a Heritage facility, the city would not step in if they cannot lease the vacated space.

RTH: Is there a timeline when it has to be finished?

JR: The completion date is no later than March 15, 2011

RTH: Will roll-up awnings be installed over the sidewalk?

JR: Awnings are not contemplated at this time.

RTH: I'd like to point out for your information, a recently completed renovation in Lansing Michigan that is similar to the Lister situation, "Hollister Building". That used Historic Preservation Tax Credits.

JR: Tax credits for heritage buildings are not being provided by the federal and provincial governments. The city does provide grants for heritage designated buildings.

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".

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 08, 2008 at 15:51:35

I love the question about awnings. Lol. He's probably thinking "what the heck are you talking about?"

I'm worried about Right House, although I'd like to hope with downtown turning around, office space in an awesome building like that could be leased...or the building could be converted to sweet apartments. Also, the public had better keep a wary eye on the ratio of 'office vs retail' space for the Lister arcade. Don't be surprised to see them propose a Tim Hortons and the rest as little office cubicles with tinted windows like the drab design of the old Eatons building on York, near the Market.

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By A-Lister (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2008 at 16:18:49

Who else gets a sinking feeling that this is gonna cost us a lot more than we expected?

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By BucksUnlimited (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2008 at 17:25:36

A-Lister-->Who else gets a sinking feeling that this is gonna cost us a lot more than we expected?

We all do...but what the hay, the sky's the limit! This is Hamilton! Anything for heritage!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 08, 2008 at 20:21:00

"anything for heritage"??? Wow. I've heard it all now. Let's spend half a billion on heritage and then maybe we can throw around comments like that.

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By fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 18, 2009 at 09:43:16

I was walking by the listerblock today and I noticed that they are working on it.. Im not to sure if they are restoring it or setting it up to be torn down, Anyone know what is happening now?

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 19, 2009 at 10:52:09

I don't know what's happening, and Im scared to find out. Don't be surprised if it "accidentally" collapses one of these days.

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By fender_86er (registered) | Posted March 24, 2009 at 08:50:33

That would be a shame because that could be such a nice building.. I mean why not restore it? I know there would be alot of money involved but its going to something that would brighten up downtown.. Im sure if they are knockng it down they know that as well but money talks I guess. Also I dont think they can tear it down because I think its a historical site but I could be wrong on that one..

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 12, 2012 at 20:11:08

We're just a month away from March 15, 2012, (read above the open date) a full year after the completion "no later than" completion date. I guess the fact that it got done is all that matters?

We're in awe of the reno. But people need to know what it cost and what we lost to get there. A ridiculously over-priced lease rate for 30 years. A huge tax subsidy from the province. And the loss of two two adjacent buildings. To get what? Basically what was there in 80s. We take two steps forward, to go back 3 decades. This building was functioning and full of businesses in the 80s up to the early 90s. Sound familiar?

Royal Connaught Hotel was selling hotel rooms the week prior to the purchase and subsequent closure after the current land speculators purchased it. It still sits empty and waits for a similar Lister sweetheart deal. Gutted more like, with the help of 4$million in City Hall funds, in an apparent pitch to make it an 5-star hotel. Please don't forget. And as if Hamilton is a market for a 5-star hotel??? Toronto only has two 5-stars. That was a scam and nothing more or less than the Lister was.

How these staffers at City Hall get their jobs is beyond me. O wait, I know, they're all related. City Hall is an Italian family-run business. That just makes sure they get sweet paycheques for doing squat.

Whenever Lister opens, (they are taking months just to paint the frig, union-speed) and if they actually get retail tenants at double the going rent, I'll be thrilled. I'm not holding my breathe.

I want to remind people that we paid dearly for this to happen. We also lost the two neighbouring buildings on KW and James. And I will bet that we never see the "Second Phase" tower. Plus I bet that Right House becomes vacant as a result. Well done. This is not progress.

Enjoy Hamilton, get screwed in a 30-year lease, no second-phase, and created two holes in KW and James streetwalls, and likely will result in the Right House (real good landlords btw) closing up. It will match the other side of Gore Park's vacant behemouth.

I mean I can miss my targets at work too, but not like this. Too many family members looking out for each other at City Hall. Aren't we on the second or third family generation watching out for our EcDev marketing now? Nothing like the outgoing 'marketer' of this City that watched 30 years of nothing happen hand over the reigns to another family member.

Comment edited by TreyS on 2012-02-12 20:24:50

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