this blog entry has been updated
The City of Hamilton just announced that it has purchased 16.5 acres of land inside the 53.8 acre West Hamilton Innovation District from Canadian Pacific for $2.1 million. The Chatham Street property will allow the city to extend Frid St and install "development-related infrastructure on the former CP lands" according to the city's press release.
The release quotes Neil Everson, the city's director of economic development and real estate division, stating that the purchase "was approved as the top priority application for funding from the Federal Government's Southern Ontario Development Program.
The total cost of this project is $4.3 million, which includes the former CP property acquisition and a request for a $1.8 million federal grant through the program. The estimated completion of the infrastructure work is set for Spring 2011; further facilitating the development of approximately 15 acres of employment lands resulting in new non-residential assessment and job creation - one of City Council's key focus areas.
Neil Everson helpfully responded to my request for more details on this purchase and the city's plans. Here is his response:
This land will be used for employment purposes only, and specifically high technology, knowledge-based companies that want to be close to McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) and the world class research facilities like CanMet, the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute, the new Life Sciences Research center, etc.
We will be selling this land to new companies - end users only. Out of the 16.5 acres, we hope to get 15 acres for employment land with the other 1.5 acres being consumed by the road (Frid Street Extension) and the servicing.
The extension will go close to the westerly property line and end up in a cul-de-sac. There is still one parcel of land between our new proeprty and MIP in order to extend the road all the way through to Longwood.
The economic benefit is obviously the assessment and jobs. Unlike a private developer, our price per acre will be more competitive (yet still at or slightly above market value). It is not our practise to sell to speculators; instead we sell to the end user that will build immediately and start paying taxes and hiring Hamiltonians - that's the City's "economic benefit" on the land sale.
We also avoid the potential of any uses (i.e Big Box Retail) locating in the West Hamilton Innovation District that we believe are not in the best interests of the City in terms of growing the economy and maximizing the benefits from the facilities and investment in infrastructure that exist at MIP and McMaster University.
In summary, this will be an excellent example of taking a currently underutilized, strategically located property and transforming it into an assessment generating, job creating parcel of land that helps achieve the City's priority of Growing the Economy. Also, it's a good infill of inner-city employment lands where future employees have great access to housing, the downtown, public transit, etc.
It's really encouraging that the city has remained steadfast in its support for and promotion of this innovation district.
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