Revitalization

Hamilton Grand Reception Draws a Crowd

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published January 06, 2009

Harry Stinson's latest project, The Hamilton Grand Hotel/Condominium, was officially presented to the public on January 4th at the sales office on John Street.

Current Location of Stinson's Proposed Hamilton Grand
Current Location of Stinson's Proposed Hamilton Grand (Image Credit: Hamilton Grand)

Approximately a hundred guests attended the wine and cheese reception in the former Liaison College training restaurant. The walls showcased floor plans, architectural CAD concept drawings and pictures of the buildings that have formerly occupied the site.

Hamilton Grand Drawing
Hamilton Grand, John St. elevation

The Hamilton Grand is an 80 suite boutique-style hotel/condo. It will be built at the Liaison College and Crazy Horse Saloon buildings that occupy the stretch of John between London Tap House and the Royal Connaught.

A new six-floor building will architecturally represent the original W.E. Sanford (Wholesale Clothing) Manufacturing building, intended to restore the elegance of previous architecture and social functions in Hamilton.

W.E. Sanford Manufacturing Company, Ltd.
Sanford and McInnes Clothing Manufacturers, ca 1862, John & King Sts

"It is Hamilton's version of the Gladstone Hotel" in Toronto, said Stinson.

Gladstone Hotel in Toronto
Gladstone Hotel in Toronto (Image Credit: Maher Construction)

All the suites are owned by individual investors, and pay a management fee that covers the rental and maintenance of the suites and amenities. Features of the Hamilton Grand include a restaurant, lounge, newsstand and food market. Investors share all the revenue of the amenities and rentals.

The top floor will contain the penthouses for functions or special guests, complete with fitness centre, ballroom and rooftop terrace.

Stinson has Larry Di Ianni, former mayor of Hamilton, and Gary Bateman, the numbers guy, working on his team.

"It's a good business deal with good partners," said an enthusiastic Di Ianni. "Hamilton is bouncing back."

Larry Di Ianni, business partner
Larry Di Ianni, business partner

Bateman's role is a little more evident; he's the dollars-and-sense behind Stinson's latest project. Bateman had worked with Stinson on the One King West hotel/condominium – a business model that closely resembles the Hamilton Grand's.

Bateman has worked out numbers that will make your head spin, but if you're interested he can prove it. "Real Estate is a pension plan," said Bateman. "It's going to make money."

Gary Bateman, financial advisor
Gary Bateman, financial advisor

Prices start at $199,999, and Marsales Real Estate will handle the selling of the suites. Judy Marsales of Marsales Real Estate is confident the market is ready for the Hamilton Grand.

Her instinct from years of selling Hamilton real estate tells her that there is "a core of people that want urban living but not the maintenance. We are social animals, and want convenience," referring to the option of also living in the Hamilton Grand versus having it rented out as a hotel suite.

Jenny Pearce, the Sales Rep from Marsales, also believes that the demographics are good and that downtown Hamilton is a solid investment.

Jenny Pearce, sales rep
Jenny Pearce, sales rep

Another premise of the project is that the lobby and lounge will be "the place to be seen," the place to "close the deal," a place that will function socially in the way that the Royal Connaught lobby and lounge once did.

Stinson says the response has been very good. He intends to pre-sell 70 percent of the units before construction begins. Once construction has started it should be completed in 18 months.

(L to R) Harry Stinson, Judy Marsales, and Rick Nizielski
(L to R) Harry Stinson, Judy Marsales, and Rick Nizielski

Stinson doesn't see this project as a tough sell, even during an economic recession; he said many fine buildings have been built in tough economic times, because the materials and labour are cheaper.

This will be an elegant development for downtown. I like the fact that there is a food market, lounge and restaurant open to the public. I also like that it isn't just a hotel for out-of-town guests, but a destination place for Hamilton.

Harry Stinson presenting his plan for the Hamilton Grand
Harry Stinson presenting his plan for the Hamilton Grand

From evening functions on the rooftop to morning coffees in the lounge, I'll be able to enjoy this building like a guest in my own city.

For more information visit www.hamiltongrand.ca.

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".

28 Comments

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By slip-sliding (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2009 at 12:51:52

Somebody tell Harry he needs to shovel his sidewalk. I almost killed myself trying to walk on the east side of John from Main to King this afternoon. The rest of the area is shoveled except for infront of Liaison and Crazy Horse.

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted January 08, 2009 at 22:22:30

nice ad. i didn't know rth was doing infomercials now.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 08, 2009 at 22:28:17

These city needs jobs, living wage jobs, low income housing not $200,000 condo units. With all the job losses, just who is gong to able to afford to go out or afford these units.

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By urbanboy (registered) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 01:00:12

People from Toronto, stupid. While I'm here, any guy or gal who sees no potential in Hamilton should get the hell out of here.

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By Harry Stinson (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 08:25:16

"What a typical 'must-find-something-negative-to-say' Hamiltonish response.
I personally cleared and scraped the sidewalk in front of the sales office
in the same morning as the snow. Contrary to [the previous writer']
comments, the other sidewalks were NOT cleared, except for the London Tap
House. While the uncleared Connaught sidewalks are possibly understandable,
it is interesting to note that the Court house sidewalks were also still
covered; perhaps this is a conscious make-work project for personal injury
lawyers?"

Disclosure: The above comment was posted by the author of this article at the request of Harry.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 08:34:52

grassroots, I agree with you that the city has a responsibility to help those with low incomes but you're forgetting that its the higher taxes paid by the people who live in middle and higher end properties that will help fund those projects. The construction jobs will most likely be done by local or regional companies, the staff of the hotel and its amenities will most likely be local and any surrounding businesses will get a boost from the influx of people to the area. This would be a tremendous boost to the local economy when it is sorely needed. Not to mention that since it will be close to both proposed LRT lines the movement to bring LRT to Hamilton will gain an influential new ally.

Those units will absolutely get sold to both people from the Hamilton area (like Larry Di Ianni) as well as those from surrounding areas who want to live close to a GO station, international airport and extensive highway systems. If they chose to buy the units as an investment (since the building will also act like a hotel), these new purchasers will now want to encourage tourism, trade shows, conventions, concerts, etc. to our city to make sure those rooms stay full, providing an additional benefit to the city on top of the new income taxes and jobs it will create.

We can't get caught up in knee-jerk reactions like "new high end development bad - low income housing good" because every city need a balance of the two in order to survive.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 08:42:40

Urban boy: Please do not call me stupid because I am not. As a Hamiltonian I am not particularily interested in people from toronto moving here while possibly displacing the residences here. How does this help hamilton if they work in toronto, it is not creating jobs. Anyways, why don't you move out Hamilton, I am born and raised here, so who are to point fingers. I care about those at the bottom not the "elite" people who mouth the words that they care about others when they don't.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 09, 2009 at 09:18:01

Harry Stinson wrote:

While the uncleared Connaught sidewalks are possibly understandable, it is interesting to note that the Court house sidewalks were also still covered; perhaps this is a conscious make-work project for personal injury lawyers?

Years ago I used to walk to work at a job on Bay St. N. The sidewalks were generally cleared in a timely fashion ... except for physiotherapy clinic that used to be near York and Bay, which never cleared their snow. One day I finally got sick of sliding past their store, so I left a note on the door asking them if they were leaving the sidewalk unshoveled to drum up more business.

The next day, their sidewalk was clear.

Grassroots wrote:

These city needs jobs, living wage jobs, low income housing not $200,000 condo units.

Why can't the city have both? The best thing that can happen to downtown is for more people with money and more businesses to move there. That will increase the tax base and densify existing land use (which improves the cost-effectiveness of urban infrastructure), while new investments will increase property values.

Further, as cities become more dense the rate of innovation goes up, which means more economic growth and more opportunities for employment for people who need jobs.

As a Hamiltonian I am not particularily interested in people from toronto moving here while possibly displacing the residences here.

This is a common worry about gentrification, but the evidence does not seem to support it. In a piece on James North I wrote a few months ago, I came across research by several social scientists, including Lance Freeman from Columbia University, which notes that urban neighbourhoods already tend to have higher rates of turnover than suburban neighbourhoods and suggests that gentrification has little, if any, impact on the turnover rate for existing residents.

http://uar.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstr...

As more affluent people move into a neighbourhood, they come to represent a larger proportion of the total, but only because under-invested urban neighbourhoods have a lot of spare capacity to absorb more people without having to displace people who are already there.

The cost of living tends to go up as property values increase, but higher costs are offset for existing residents by improving job prospects, increased neighbourhood safety and vitality, and better local amenities.

urbanboy wrote:

People from Toronto, stupid.

I second Grassroots' response, urbanboy: there's absolutely no need for insults. Let's please try to keep the discussion civil and respectful.

g. wrote

nice ad. i didn't know rth was doing infomercials now.

??? How is this profile of a newsworthy new development different from other such profiles we've done?

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 09:33:17

Ryan: Thank for saying there is no room for insults. I will revamp my position, Have the people themselves been allowed to have any say in this proposed endeavour. From a grassroots perspective, it is important to have input by the people of this city. Was there a public forum on this? Anyways, with more and more people losing jobs, just where are these people to go if they cannot find work? For the health of the community at large, there should be some real input from the people not just those with the money, that is a fair, democratic and open process.

Mr Stinson: Are you going to guarantee that all the possible employees of the venture are going to be paid a living wage, have access to benefits, what about pensions?

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By Scratches head (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 11:07:12

@Grassroots are the way forward

Um, are you SERIOUSLY suggesting Harry Stinson needs to hold public meetings so he can ask permission to buy two empty buildings and attract investors to develop them for use?

.....really?

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By Puzzled (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 11:52:02

Grassroots is suggesting that local entrepreneurs ask the public for permission to invest in the downtown. What is he on City Council? I think Grassroots might change his name to Grass-smoker if he really believes that.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 20:44:09

I guess I did not get my point across very well, sorry I was in a hurry. I think that it would be good if there was a public forum, as to what direction this city should be going in. I do not know Mr Stinson or what he represent, but I think it would be good to have open dialogue about issues such as a living wage, benefits, to those potential employees of this building. I am wrong for thinking this way?

Yes, something has to happen, most definitely to the downtown area, as this ward is one of poorest, my concerns are based around the fact are those who are the most vulnerable going to be pushed by the wayside for those coming from Toronto with their money.

Maybe I do not want to see another Lister block where the taxpayers are on the hook for funding this project, not that it is a definite scenerio. Sure job creation is an important issue, I just think that for this community to move forward, that there should be more public input into what this city actually needs. Just because someone has money, does not mean that those who do not, don't have valuable input to offer.

The way I see things is that the business community has all the say but the people have none, I refer back to an article last spring in the spec where we had the business lobby calling for all kinds of cuts to services to those who are the most vulnerable, how is this democratic, when a communty is made up of all kinds of people. I will ask this question: How many of those in the business community actually effect those that live in poverty by not adhereing to the labour laws, such as stat holiday, or paying overtime, citing law that is non existant in the employment standards act?

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By Scammed (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 21:44:21


Quote from Grassroots:
"Mr Stinson: Are you going to guarantee that all the possible employees of the venture are going to be paid a living wage, have access to benefits, what about pensions? "

Maybe a better question would be, Mr. Stinson, are you going to guarantee that trades will be paid, period? Or will it be like the creditors of the Dominion Club, Sapphire Tower, etc. in Toronto, who ended up with nothing? Millions of $$$ in unpaid creditors due to your scheme, which it looks like you and Bateman have exported to Hamilton now? Hey, Hamiltonians, the concept DOES NOT WORK. "Investors" in the Suites of 1 King West are not making money, but loosing every month. On top of that their real estate has depreciated to the point where you can't sell it. Beware fellow investors!

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By toronto investor (anonymous) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 21:48:10

Hi Hamilton,

As an investor in 1 king west, I lost my shirt but gained a lot of wisdom from investing in One King. Hopefully Hamilton will see better results from Harry's projects. I grew up in down town Hamilton and am still in love with the place. I think its a great city to live in since the cost of living is reasonable compared to Toronto. I have my reservations about the project though but best of luck.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 22:21:17

By scammed & toronto investor: Thanks for the info, hey what do I know, I am a nobody. The people of Hamilton need to know informatioan, so thanks for the input.

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By trevor (registered) | Posted January 09, 2009 at 23:11:02

I suggest if you want a better understanding of how much Harry is enthusiastic about Hamilton's potential and why he moved here. I suggest you listen to audio interview www.raisethehammer.org/index.asp on the cover page of this current issue. not on the blog.

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By Law56 (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2009 at 09:16:46

If you believe in the Easter Bunny, Fairies and money growing on trees, then go and invest your hard earned money with Harry Stinson. Every project he has engaged in was a failure and left people picking up the pieces. The Condo Con is still selling his snake oil in a different town. Wake Up Hamilton.

Larry (I got Screwed by Harry)

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By Scammed once (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2009 at 09:26:37

This is unreal. How can Harry have so much money after his Bankruptcies at 1 King west and Sapphire Towers. This guy is like the energizer bunny.

Steve

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By canon (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2009 at 12:35:57

I think its interesting that no one has made mention of Harry's Hamilton inner circle that is now with him. In the Connaught he was alone a figure from the outside, slighting hammilton's old boys network. Dangle some dollars in front of a former Mayor (happens to have modest ties to developers) and a real estate agent with delusional ideas about downtown values and we'll see if the reception is different. I wonder if even the Spec will see this project differently?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2009 at 22:47:13

I have nothing but the best hopes for Harry Stinson and his project.

I'd much rather have him try and do something with these two empty buildings than have someone "local" like Vrancor buy them up, demolish them, and turn them into parking lots. I'm shocked that some people are raising concerns about "living wages" and "consultation with the community" with Stinson, who is one of the most open and approachable developers we've ever seen in Hamilton. Why don't you go to some other Hamilton developers, or "land squatters" like the ones who own the old Revenue Canada building, or the Connaught, or the Hess-King apartment complex?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 11, 2009 at 11:22:51

i wish that you, jenny pearce, would leave downtown alone. we don't need your speculation and inflated selling prices here. you are keeping potential business owners and decent landlords out of the market, and ensuring that all heritage properties stay in the hands of out-of-town speculators - only to become more derelict and be eventually torn down. get out out out of our downtown, jenny.

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By downtowner (registered) | Posted January 11, 2009 at 11:22:52

i wish that you, jenny pearce, would leave downtown alone. we don't need your speculation and inflated selling prices here. you are keeping potential business owners and decent landlords out of the market, and ensuring that all heritage properties stay in the hands of out-of-town speculators - only to become more derelict and be eventually torn down. get out out out of our downtown, jenny.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 11, 2009 at 11:24:58

i guess it DID take my login after all - sorry about the double post. enough with inflated downtown land prices - we are getting there slowly but we can't afford to rush things into the stratosphere. over a million for hotel hamilton? - that's just guaranteeing more and more vacancies and dilapidation!

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 11, 2009 at 11:28:55

Robert D: I am concerned about the people who would eventually work there and they should earn a living wage, have access to benefits, why not pensions. What is the problem with that? What if the city was to adopt a policy of a living wage, because this is something that has been brought up at city council, other communities in the US have adopted a living wage policy and things have been successful. Is it not better to have people earning a living wage, thus not having to access social services such as foodbanks, which your tax dollars pay for to support. Is not the idea to have people who are self sustainable? Would not these normally low wage earners spend the money back into the local economy?

As far a public forum, well maybe, maybe not, but considering some the comments made by others, it might be a good idea. And as far as your comment about other developers, well maybe the city is at fault at that, as it fails to enforce building standards, maybe it is the hidden structure of the city, you know who knows who and so on. Do you have better input into this??

Well maybe I am wrong but I had always thought that the city government was to be working for the people not the people working for them. In a fair and open society all the voices have equal input.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 11, 2009 at 21:20:46

Grassroots, wages reflect the skills that workers bring to the table as well as the current demand for those skills. By installing artificial wage controls, you limit the development of those skills and you decrease the demand for them.

If workers and businesses were allowed the freedom to set wages, workers would work more, develop skills faster and therefore increase the market value of their labour.

Businesses would benefit from market based labour prices because it would allow them to hire more workers, thus increasing the output of their business and also the potential for profits.

When you combine a business environment where workers develop skills quicker and where business output expands quicker, you end up with a market that can pay workers much higher wages, simply because the real output produced by the economy allows for it. That is the key to all real wealth gains, how much businesses can produce in real output.

By putting an artificial floor on wages, you limit the skills workers can develop, thereby decreasing real output in the economy, which can only lead to less wealth for everyone, both businesses and workers.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted January 11, 2009 at 22:54:12

A Smith: So what if market based prices were say $2.00 per hour, do you think people could survive on this? People who are earning minimum wage are not surviving, they are having to access foodbanks.

I can think of one type of business in which a change took place, yes the outputs have expanded, but that has not drifted down to the workers. So we cannot just trust the business community to always pass on the wealth.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2009 at 14:00:45

Grassroots, if a business doesn't pay its workers enough to stay alive then they won't have any workers. Furthermore, businesses that only pay their workers enough to live, but not enough to travel to work, won't have workers either. Therefore, if you want to have happy, productive people come to work for your business, your pay scale must reflect what it takes to do this.

Any business that arbitrarily decides that they will not pay more than $2.00 an hour, will likely find themselves with very few workers to choose from, therefore hurting their business in the long run. Over time, the businesses that strike the right balance between happy, productive workers and healthy profit margins, will be able to plow these profits into more stores, while keeping prices low for consumers.

In fact, by utilizing labour as effectively as possible, stores such as Walmart allow lower income consumers to purchase goods much cheaper than they would be able to otherwise. This has the effect of increasing the purchasing power of each dollar of income, thereby increasing the wages for all consumers.

Furthermore, businesses are willing to pay workers high salaries, if these workers can bring a high level of skills to the table. In this case, businesses that fail to pay market rates for high skilled workers, even if they are higher than what the government mandates, will also find themselves losing market share to businesses that do.

Minimum wages are also punitive to those workers who don't need what the government tells them is an acceptable wage. If, for example, a teenager who lives at home wants to develop work skills, but can do so at $2.00 an hour, why shouldn't that person be able to make that wage agreement with the employer? Even though both parties would benefit from this arrangement, the government experts decide that it is unacceptable.

The only thing that results from banning this arrangement, is that the economy has less workers to produce output, thus increasing the costs for consumers and the worker has to delay learning valuable skills that will slow his earnings potential. How is this a good thing?

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By urbanboy (registered) | Posted August 16, 2009 at 16:34:13

To grassroots...

I apologize, that was harsh and no need for it.

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