By Jason Leach
Published September 04, 2009
A couple of articles in the Spectator this week discussed the upcoming opening and subsequent construction halt of a new restaurant on Bay Street called Cottage Life. A huge renovation is turning this crummy looking corner at King into a bar and restaurant with a nice long patio on Bay Street as well as a nice rooftop patio.
I've mused previously on RTH about the lack of patios on the revamped Bay Street. Druxy's in Jackson Square should have installed one ages ago, but instead they chose to complain when a new cafe opened near them in the mall.
Personally I wouldn't list cedar siding as one of my top choices for a building material downtown, but anyone who has passed the corner during the recent work can see that the craftsmanship appears to be of high quality and the adjoining patio railings and metal lamps add a nice charm to this once-drab spot.
I'd like to see more windows facing Bay, but I can certainly live with the product being presented.
As you know, I'm a firm believer in the need for an architectural review board in Hamilton that will review each and every project submitted to the city. Don't ask me to start listing recent developments to prove my point. Just walk around yourself and take a look.
Where I find myself somewhat perplexed is when I read that the city temporarily halted work due to the massive wall of cedar on Cottage Life, yet a few blocks down King we are gradually seeing a mediocre corner property turn into a disgusting eyesore.
I am referring, of course, to the Bingo Hall building at King and Hughson. Recently, while driving down King Street at night, I almost had to pull over due to temporary blindness after making the mistake of looking to my right when passing the aforementioned building.
Hamilton has a sign bylaw and regularly I'll see folks ripping down the small paper signs that get taped or stapled to street poles downtown, even though I find out far more about local events, arts, music and cultural happenings by reading these wonderful posters that are mounted on poles through the downtown than any other source.
But I'm stunned by the fact that our sign bylaw still allows massive billboards and their mega-lights that can shine through residential neighbourhoods for blocks, or a sign like this mini DofascoVision that was just installed at the Bingo Hall.
I was at a friends house recently and noticed bright lights shining into his kitchen window. I thought it was a movie shoot so I went to have a look and it was from a billboard two blocks away.
To make matters worse, now I see a bunch of panels that look like cheap plywood have been poorly installed on the exterior of the Bingo Hall. This is a handsome, though neglected, Art-Deco building in our downtown that once housed the wonderful Kresge's department store.
The Spec headline earlier this week said that the cedar look at Cottage Life caused the project to be halted.
Perhaps one of these days we'll also take the same approach with buildings that are butchered with cheap, short-sighted renos that actually move downtown's appearance in the wrong direction.
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