Intensification Without High-Rises

By Jason Leach
Published June 19, 2007

A great example of urban intensification [PDF] is being presented to the upcoming Planning and Economic Development Committee (EcDev) meeting:

to permit a mixed use building consisting of ground floor commercial uses and 14 two-storey dwelling units on the second and third floors, for the property located at 865 Mohawk Road East [at Upper Ottawa]

It's nothing flashy, nor will it be a new landmark, but it's exactly what Hamilton needs.

Five years ago this piece of land would likely have received the 'one-storey plaza' treatment. This application is asking for ground floor commercial space to have 14 two-storey residential units above on floors two and three.

That's 14 residential units more than we normally see in Hamilton's new retail/commercial buildings. It's a perfect example of how the city can add thousands of new residents without massive high-rises or wasting precious land.

Proposals like this are win-win for everyone, including you and me ­ the taxpayers.

Let's hope the city gets serious about this type of development. Our city is chalk full of plazas and one-storey commercial buildings on main streets with bus service and local shopping amenities.

Perhaps unique tax breaks can be offered to those who develop similar projects. Better yet, let's just start charging appropriate development fees for those who build low-density projects that rely heavily on city subsidies.

PS ­ check out the comments at the bottom of the report. I like the one about this development "towering over" homes in the area. Unless someone is living in a tent next to this site I don't think a three storey building will be "towering" over anything.

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 DavidCohen (registered) | Posted June 20, 2007 at 12:03:33

I happened to attend yesterday's meeting of the Planning Committee where this proposed development was discussed. There were two presentations from people who live close to the proposed development. They objected to it, mostly on the grounds that it would create more traffic in the area and thus noise, disruption, etc. Tom Jackson, the councillor concerned, said it had been his fondest hope that "single family housing" would be built on the lot concerned but this, "unfortunately," had not happened....Through another councillor (Jackson is not a member of the committee) he got the matter tabled for two weeks during which time he will hold a community meeting on the matter. No doubt further NIMBY sentiments will be aired at this meeting. I of course agree with Jason. This is precisely the type of development needed at this intersection -- and indeed at many other intersection and along other main avenues in Hamilton. My only problem with it is that a significant amount of space in the proposal is devoted to parking. Now, we can't fault the developer for this. He is merely complying with a city requirement. But what if the space devoted to off-street parking in this proposal could be turned into a garden? Or a courtyard? Or, perhaps, better overall design. One wonders how the neighbours would respond to that. They'd then probably bitch about residents of the new apartments parking on their "single family home" streets. Oh well...

But now is the time start agitating against the requirement for off-street parking in new development. Without it, we'll get better development and perhaps a little less use of cars.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted June 21, 2007 at 12:41:57

What about underground parking? I understand that the soil depth on the escarpment is minimal but that'd solve both parking issues would it not?

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