Comment 84279

By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted December 20, 2012 at 20:28:23 in reply to Comment 84213

I agree and disagree with some of your points. I will agree with you, a fundamental problem with downtown is a lack of population density. Density leads to better transit services, pedestrianization, better environment for smaller local businesses and better leveraging of infrastructure.

I want to first qualify my next point by saying, I'm not opposed to renovating, but renovation of an existing building without expansion is a drop in the bucket, and more often completely neutral in terms of increasing density. Sure, taking a small derelict building making it livable improves density, but it is peanuts compared to a new development that boasts a much larger footprint.

Even that as you stated, it requires considerable investment to renovate, not that building new doesn't as well, but the investment when completed, is superior in terms of density created, property taxes generated, property value increases and leveraging infrastructure.

You are completely right though, new developments require stronger business cases, which are now developing in Hamilton as the need for smaller, cheaper condos is now on the rise, due to aging Baby Boomers, Young Professionals and outrageously high property values in neighbouring cities. However, we can't simply refuse to see such potential business cases walk because we wish to leave because we are scared that a parking lot 'might' take it's place. Sure it's a possibility, John St is the perfect example, but so are new developments like the new Federal building development and the Chateau Royale which so far seem to be turning into success stories. That being said, the city needs to incentivize expansion/new development and do everything in it's power to ensure development does occur on a demolished building, which so far, it seems to be doing (finally).

I'm not opposed to adaptive reuse, but it needs to be coupled with expansion. The three floor storefront with resident units above paradigm that dominates so much of Hamilton isn't serving us well. One needs take a drive down Barton St. to see that. These developments are only viable when complimented by nearby high density (which most of the North End does not boast and the core has begun to create). Given the apparent age, disrepair, size and lack of space, expansion seems incredibly unlikely for this section of buildings, save for possibly the thrift store who nears larger density.

However, if somehow you could expand the block to the thrift store's height, replace the surface parking with sufficient underground parking entirely, and eliminate the existing less the desirable storefronts and make it into a residential development, I'd be all for it. However I'm fairly confident the costs of such a reuse would be far far greater and require a far better business case then starting anew.

Last I just want to comment that while the buildings are nondescript architecturally, still blatantly scream disrepair and age while all the grace of a decaying slum given the businesses which occupy them.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2012-12-20 20:43:16

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