For an article that focuses on downtown developments, I’m going to first bring you the furthest place from the core — Winona. For those that don’t know, Winona was a tiny, rural, agricultural community on Hamilton’s eastern edge bordering Grimsby and is most notably known as home to the Winona Peach Festival as well as E.D. Smith, manufacturer of some of the best jams and sauces this country has to offer. This is where I spent the first 18 years of my life and where I learned some invaluable life perspectives that I carry with me today. Growing up here gave me an appreciation for the outdoors and open space, of knowing your neighbours and the importance of community, and for the purpose of this article, a realization that development can change an area forever.
After leaving Winona for downtown, my business and personal life occasionally brings me back. I am constantly shocked by what I see — and what I don’t. The fields that once helped park cars and house the craft booths and rides for the Winona Peach Festival is now home to hundreds of new townhomes and a new elementary school.
Down the street on Fifty Road that just a few years ago was a run down truck stop where my friends would grab breakfast at odd hours of the morning is now home to a Costco, RBC branch, LCBO, and many other national franchises. The list of childhood places that no longer exist goes on and on and the community that now exists is hardly recognizable compared to the memory I have.
The reason I share this little anecdote is for those of us that live, work, and play in downtown Hamilton. The ones used to walking by the same dilapidated empty buildings, vacant lots, and the like are in for a huge surprise in the coming years. So much so that I believe if you left the city now to return five years later you might feel like me when I return to Winona and hardly recognize it.
In the short 400 meters from James to Catharine along King is an area we call Gore Park. Within this four minute walk are more projects that will reshape downtown than any other area of the city. My goal was to compile an exhaustive project list that puts the transformation of this area into perspective.
Delta Bingo Site
The giant pit hidden behind a plywood guard fence on the corner of Hughson is home to LiUNA’s next Hamilton towers. The proposal shows two 30-storey towers sharing 525 condo units between them.
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59 King St E
This beige 40,000 square foot eyesore is home to an abandoned convenience store, a Thrift Store, and a Cash Money. The site is rumoured to be the next CoreUrban project and with buildings like the recently completed Alley on James as well as the highly-acclaimed Templar Flats and Empire Times, we can be sure to expect something beautiful here.
103 King St E
The unsightly graffiti-covered plywood box at this address surrounds the beautiful arched entrance to what’s left of the old Capitol Theatre. An old Buttinsky’s Bar sign still hangs from the façade. The new owners will begin construction on the site in the coming weeks, bringing an entertainment venue focusing on group outings and corporate parties.
The Old Spectator Building
The former headquarters of the Hamilton Spectator is getting a façade makeover. The building is now headquarters to Co/Motion — one of Hamilton’s original coworking spaces — and Black Rabbit which is one of Hamilton’s hottest new bars. The ground floor units, which have been in various states of neglect over the years, are now all leased to a number of exciting tenants; some of which will be open by summer.
Gore Park Lofts
The old Crazy Bill’s on the corner of Catharine and King was bought earlier this year with the adjacent Pharmacy. The buyers have teamed up with Effort Trust and plan to add two floors on top of the existing structure, creating a total of 43 one- and two-bedroom condo units.
Royal Connaught Towers
The historic Royal Connaught buildings have already undergone a massive transformation from hotel to condos during their Phase 1 and 2 redevelopment. However, plans for the site are far from over. Spallacci Homes will soon announce their Phase 3, 4, and 5 which includes the construction of a 36 storey tower fronting King St as well as two shorter towers along Main. The completion of these buildings will finally change the skyline of Hamilton which has remained unchallenged for nearly 50 years.
62 & 64 King St E
The historic properties overlooking Gore Park were purchased by Hamilton industrialist Patrick Bermingham and a silent partner from Toronto. The plan is to bring a boutique hotel to the site with ground floor and rooftop hospitality space for a unique restaurant with the best views of the core.
54 King St E
Located beside the old TD Bank building (the one guarded by two lion statues) is a vacant structure that’s owned by one of Hamilton’s largest real estate players: Effort Trust. The plans show a modern 5 storey, glass exterior office building rising in its place.
18-24 King St E
The properties that arguably brought the heritage debate to the forefront of Hamilton politics are a row of 1850 buildings overlooking the Gore Park fountain near James St. The buildings, owned by Wilson Blanchard, were scheduled to be demolished until an 11th hour order by the city put a halt to the bulldozers. Now the plans are to keep as much of the exterior facade as possible and create residential units on the upper floors with commercial units on the ground.
Which developments are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments!