Hamilton or Detroit?

By Jason Leach
Published May 06, 2007

Apparently the Hamilton Spectator missed this news: streetfront vacancies in downtown Hamilton are down to ten percent, from 16 percent five years ago. I'd love the Spec's editor-in-chief to clarify if he 'stepped out of the Sheraton hotel' in Hamilton or Detroit in his recent editorial.

He writes, "Stepping out from the Sheraton Hotel, we start walking past vacant stores, fast food outlets, pawnshops, cheque-cashing outlets and empty and decaying buildings."

OK, I know the Lister Block is still sitting there, but I walk along this stretch of King Street all the time. I'm not aware of another empty building other than those currently under renovation and soon-to-start renos.

I don't know where the Editor-in-Chief lives, but he's anything like most upper management at the Spec he probably lives in suburbs, which means he can leave his driveway with his eyes closed and have a good chance of bumping into a fast food restaurant.

Downtown along King has a McD's, Hortons a couple chain pizza places and a Subway. There are a few pawnshops and cheque-cashing stores. OK.

But what about the plethora of dining options surrounding the Sheraton? What about the city's best patios in Hess Village, King William Street and south leg of the Gore (none of which are fast food places)?

What about the fabulous ethnic eateries, trendy cafes and large convention/entertainment facilities – AGH, Convention Centre, Copps, and so on?

Maybe I'll have to walk back down King Street next week and see what's happened there in the past 20 hours since I was last there.

I was excited to see the new patio at the Honest Lawyer completely full. Now according to the Spec, King Street has turned into Detroit. And it only took one night!

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By farmer6re9 (registered) - website | Posted May 07, 2007 at 08:35:18

People see what they want to see. When I hobble down Ottawa Street North, I see numerous empty shops but I also see a renewal in progress. Sure the Goodwill next to the YWCA moved out recently, and yes, the strip next to CD's is completely devoid of proprietors and there are many other blank facades.

But I still see a renewal, a transformation taking place. Slow and sweet like molasses yet steady. It is a bygone era for the Ma and Pa shoppes, start-up costs are prohibitive and many that do manage to open their doors to the public fade away in six months to a year.

We need to have people with incentive and passion who are willing to take risks. Proprietors like Skizzers at 108 Ottawa or Spice Emporium at 205 Ottawa who are giving it their best shot.

It is my hope that a business like "Crafters Marketplace" will find interest with the empty Goodwill building and not just another Cheasy Chinese dollar store.

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By Josh (registered) | Posted May 09, 2007 at 23:33:52

There are empty store fronts on King St and whether the renos and soon-to-be somethings will tip the balance and open at a greater rate than the closures remains to be seen. You can't blame the editor for regarding the same thing everyone else does - visibly closed stores fronts. I think the truth lies somewhere in between your obvious boosterism and the editors detraction. The economy has been strong, but downtown Hamilton has benefitted negligibly. I've been reading RTH for more than a year now and love your thoughts on planning and transit. Hamilton needs more like you, but I don't think your criticism is warranted in this case.

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By Catherine (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2007 at 16:53:26

I agree with you, farmer. The artwork and decor at Skizzers is awesome! Now if we could just encourage more upbeat businesses to Hamilton!

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By sdyedy (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2008 at 06:36:08

If all of life is supposed to work as we like or want it to, money is the answer.

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