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Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 11:25 AM
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SteelTown SteelTown is offline
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Platinum Condominiums | 81.3m | 24 fl | Approved

All Saints makes saintly choice
Church makes way for affordable condo units

June 17, 2009
Paul Wilson
The Hamilton Spectator
http://www.thespec.com/article/584279

Ten years ago, workers spent months carefully dismantling the bell tower at All Saints Church in downtown Hamilton.

Now the stage is set for all the stones at All Saints to come tumbling down.

The church has commanded the southeast corner of Hamilton's royal intersection since the 1870s.

But at King and Queen, as at churches everywhere, times have changed. Since the '60s, pews have emptied out. Too many churches, not enough people.

Back in 1974, somebody made a firm offer to buy the All Saints property for $350,000. The congregation turned it down. Bishop John Bothwell was not amused:

"For a couple of hundred people to maintain this enormous building, when there are three or four other Anglican parishes within a few blocks with similar depleted congregations and enormous buildings, seems to me to be questionable," the bishop said then.

"Of course, the people at All Saints disagree. They feel confident that renewal is close at hand ... God alone can know whether the right decision was made."

Renewal was not at hand. The congregation continued to erode. A church that held 400 now sees 60 or 70 on a Sunday.

There has been a big push for outreach, with a Friendship Centre that for years served people who struggle.

But the building is not so good for that. It is not accessible. It is a dim place, with small windows and dark wood. It is murder to heat. The stone, quarried in one direction and laid in another, is deteriorating.

Five months ago, a thick section of queen-sheet-sized plaster dropped from the ceiling, chopping up the wooden floor. Ever since, the congregation has met in the parish hall next door.

And in the late '90s, Mother Nature -- or maybe God Himself -- sent a message to All Saints that was hard to ignore. A moderate earthquake (Richter 5.4) shook the bell tower and it had to be pulled down.

Ever since, the congregation at All Saints has tried to find a future. And now they have voted. The church that Senator Samuel Mills built in 1872 because he wanted a place of worship closer to home is to come down. So will the century house next door that is the church's parish hall.

In their place, a nonprofit condo tower of up to 11 storeys is to rise. The proposal is now working its way through city hall and it's hoped work can begin in a year.

It was an agonizing decision for the congregation. As one man put it, "My head says yes, but not my heart." Still, he raised his hand in favour of the plan and so did everyone else.

Rector Paula Crippen says "it will be a sad day" when the church does come down, but that members are excited about the new space. All Saints is to get about 2,500 square feet on the main floor of the new complex. There could be a storefront presence on King Street, perhaps a cafe ministry.

The church does not have an historical designation, but is on the city's inventory of 6,500 buildings of interest.

"People will say, 'Why are they tearing down that lovely old building?'" admits Archdeacon Rick Jones. "But what's important for us is the ministry of the church ...

"We're not an historical society. This building worked 100 years ago. It doesn't work today."

He congratulates the people of All Saints. Their plan had to be approved by the diocese, which gave it a standing ovation.

Jones says the church understands the importance of the property, located across from the Scottish Rite. "Both the city and the church want the new building to fit into the streetscape in the most pleasing way possible."

The developer is a group called Options For Housing. In the past 16 years, it has built eight developments in the GTA, from the Distillery District to Scarborough. There are other projects in Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Waterloo and Collingwood.

The units are good quality, but not luxurious, aimed at buyers with household incomes as low as $40,000. Conrad Zurini, a ReMax agent who chairs Hamilton's Affordable Housing Flagship, says the 84 units here would sell for $120,000 to $200,000.

The project is worth up to $15 million. The units are sold at cost. The company then gives condo buyers a second, interest-free mortgage equal to the difference between the cost and market value. That second mortgage only has to be repaid if the resident sells, so buyers rarely flip their units for a quick profit.

Zurini hopes to start holding buyer seminars at the All Saints parish hall in early fall.
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  #2  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 11:26 AM
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Queen Street Condominiums
- Hamilton, Ontario

Options for Homes not-for-profit condominium project on the site of an existing church, thoughtfully incorporating the materiality of the original building, while also recreating a place of worship.
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  #3  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 4:50 PM
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That rendering looks a lot like Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington...
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 4:56 PM
block43 block43 is offline
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Reminiscent of commie block buildings...
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 5:35 PM
markbarbera markbarbera is offline
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I'll pass on judging a project's level of quality by squinting at a small low-res rendering without knowing any details about construction elements. What I do know is that this type of development is sorely needed in the downtown area. It's home ownership that is affordable, and it will bring more residents to the downtown area.
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  #6  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 6:10 PM
holymoly holymoly is offline
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Options for Homes is an interesting outfit. I went to one of their presentations and bought a condominium, but changed my mind and pulled out during the cooling-off period.

If I remember correctly, they make ownership more affordable like this: They offer all purchasers a loan toward the down payment. It's interest-free until you sell or decide to pay off the loan. At that point, the interest is determined: it's equal to the percentage your unit has risen in value -- so if you sell for 10% higher than you bought at, Options gets 10% on their loan. (I'm pretty sure you pay zero interest if the unit value hasn't risen.) They discourage renting out your unit; if you do rent it out, you have to give Options a percentage of the profit.
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Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 9:30 PM
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This should attract some young professionals to live downtown - the loan with value-based interest sounds like a good start.
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  #8  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2009, 10:37 PM
jgrwatson jgrwatson is offline
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I think this is a great idea. Seems to work well in the other cities mentioned.

Also, to intensify King is also a good idea - we need to meet Places to Grow targets anyways!
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Old Posted Jun 18, 2009, 6:40 AM
bigguy1231 bigguy1231 is offline
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It's a great location, but I am not so sure that it should be used for residential purposes. Seeing as it abutts the Hess Village entertainment district, I would hope that the city would require new owners to sign noise waivers, preventing them from complaining about the noise when the village is packed with 5,000 people on a weekend night.

Don't get me wrong, I don't oppose the proposal, I am just thinking ahead. I'd hate to see the only prosperous area of the downtown being dragged down because of a lack of foresight. If you build housing next to what is already a fairly rowdy area there is going to be problems. City council better think very carefully before approving this project. Otherwise they are going to create even more problems than they are now having in the area.
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Old Posted Jun 18, 2009, 1:24 PM
highwater highwater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigguy1231 View Post
I'd hate to see the only prosperous area of the downtown being dragged down because of a lack of foresight.
It would be a pretty sad state of affairs if a weekend playground for suburban 19 - 25 year olds were "the only prosperous area of the downtown". Thankfully this is not the case. Hess Village will not survive in the long term as the monoculture it currently is. It needs to diversify the age and sophistication of its clientele. The city would be wise to foster a healthier mix of commercial and residential.
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Old Posted Jun 18, 2009, 4:35 PM
mic67 mic67 is offline
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Interesting to compare Hess village with Yorkville in Toronto (Yonge and Bloor).

And then contrast it to the Entertainment District in Toronto.

mic67
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 3:55 AM
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Jon Dalton Jon Dalton is offline
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Originally Posted by highwater View Post
a weekend playground for suburban 19 - 25 year olds
I was thinking about that tonight while riding through the smashed up cars and drunk 17 year olds in the parking lot right by Hess. As much as I support it, there needs to be more than just gino bars. If it were to diversify to more resemble Montreal's Prince Arthur for example, that could work in synergy with surrounding residential development. A major project such as this could even be a kick start in that direction.
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  #13  
Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 7:31 AM
bigguy1231 bigguy1231 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by highwater View Post
It would be a pretty sad state of affairs if a weekend playground for suburban 19 - 25 year olds were "the only prosperous area of the downtown". Thankfully this is not the case. Hess Village will not survive in the long term as the monoculture it currently is. It needs to diversify the age and sophistication of its clientele. The city would be wise to foster a healthier mix of commercial and residential.
Give your head a shake. The rest of the downtown is a diasater area, and yes it is a sad state of affairs. As for Hess Village not surviving I remember hearing that 20 years ago, and it's still there bigger than ever. Mixing commercial and residential uses especially when it comes to bars and nightclubs is never a good idea. It's only asking for problems. There should to be a separation of the two, preferably with other commercial uses in between to act as a buffer.
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 7:52 AM
mic67 mic67 is offline
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Amen.
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 11:35 AM
markbarbera markbarbera is offline
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Having Hess Village remain exclusively a late night drinking destination is strictly limiting its potential. There should be a mix of entertainment options in the area. And yes, there is room for mixed usage, including, but not limited to, restaurants, theatre, 'hip' commercial industry such as advertising, film and television production, hotels and yes, residential condominiums. As far as watering holes go, Hess Village has reached its saturation point.
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Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 1:20 PM
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Amen.
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  #17  
Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 1:25 PM
highwater highwater is offline
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Originally Posted by bigguy1231 View Post
Mixing commercial and residential uses especially when it comes to bars and nightclubs is never a good idea. It's only asking for problems. There should to be a separation of the two, preferably with other commercial uses in between to act as a buffer.
Separation of uses is what destroyed our downtown in the first place. Thankfully downtown is slowly beginning to recover whether you care to admit it or not, yet you would like to see a continuation of this failed planning practise. With friends like you, Hess Village doesn't need enemies.
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  #18  
Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 1:55 PM
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Its true that Hess Village is the closest microcosm in that area, but the condos are to be built at King and Queen, not in Hess Village.
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  #19  
Old Posted Jun 19, 2009, 4:25 PM
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People live in and amongst bars and clubs all the time. In London, Soho is a packed bar/restaurant zone, which doesn't stop there being plenty of people living there. As for new high-rise buildings, there are new buildings in Vancouver which have bars or clubs on the ground/basement floors, offices directly above and then residential above that. The offices effectively insulate the residential floors from the noises below.

It's just a shame a little of Vancouver's high-rise flair can't find it's way to Hamilton, cause IMHO that building is ugly as but that's my opinion.
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Old Posted Jun 30, 2009, 1:46 AM
jgrwatson jgrwatson is offline
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What the hell is wrong with this city! There a bizzilion vacant parking lots ANYWHERE else in the dt. The burnt out building down the way...

Hamilton needs to give its head a shake. Originally, I thought this was the lot behind HHS, but realizing it is the CHURCH itself, this is just sad and pathetic.
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