De­vel­oper re­turns to Hamil­ton with two projects

Ver­non Shaw turned Pig­ott build­ing into con­dos two decades ago

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - STEVE ARNOLD

A Toronto de­vel­oper who turned Hamil­ton’s his­toric Pig­ott build­ing into a suc­cess­ful condo project is com­ing back to town af­ter 20 years with plans for two new build­ings.

Ver­non Shaw’s King Stuart De­vel­op­ments Inc. has plans to add 175 condo units to the city’s hous­ing stock, bring­ing the num­ber of units pro­posed or un­der con­struc­tion in the core to more than 1,500.

“There’s no ques­tion in my mind that Hamil­ton is in the throes of an ex­tra­or­di­nary trans­for­ma­tion,” Shaw said.

The projects are worth a com­bined $50 mil­lion.

Shaw’s com­pany has pur­chased build­ings in the bayfront area at the south­west cor­ner of Stuart and Mac­Nab streets, di­rectly across from the new West Har­bour GO station, and in the heart of the city at the north­east cor­ner of King and Caro­line streets, the cur­rent home of Hamil­ton Store Fix­tures. That vet­eran com­pany is mov­ing to a new lo­ca­tion.

The har­bourfront build­ing will be trans­formed into 75 condo units rang­ing be­tween 500 and 1,200 square feet. The down­town project will see the front part of a his­toric build­ing pre­served as com­mer­cial and “brick and beam” of­fices with a 15-storey condo tower

of 100 units ris­ing be­hind.

Each project, Shaw said, has a dif­fer­ent tar­get de­mo­graphic. The har­bourfront build­ing will fo­cus on empty-nesters and peo­ple look­ing to com­mute to Toronto, while the King Street site will be aimed at young pro­fes­sion­als, graduate stu­dents and oth­ers who pre­fer liv­ing in the core. That build­ing will fea­ture com­mu­nal items such as meet­ing rooms and a rooftop pa­tio space.

“We hope there will be a community there rather than just a rab­bit’s hutch of lit­tle units,” Shaw said.

Units down­town will be priced in the range of $250,000 to $500,000.

No for­mal re­zon­ing ap­pli­ca­tions have been submitted to the city yet, Shaw said. From to­day he ex­pects it will be two years be­fore ei­ther build­ing is ready for oc­cu­pancy.

Shaw said that af­ter the Pig­ott build­ing project, he “got caught up” in Toronto busi­ness and let Hamil­ton slip from his radar — un­til two Montreal ac­quain­tances called him about po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties in On­tario.

“I sug­gested they look very closely at Hamil­ton and told them what an ex­cit­ing place it was be­com­ing,” he said. “We found th­ese sites and started ne­go­ti­at­ing, but af­ter a couple of months th­ese guys changed their minds and dropped out. By then I was emo­tion­ally com­mit­ted.

“Af­ter that it was just a case of find­ing what kind of de­vel­op­ment would be pos­si­ble there,” he said. “Hamil­ton fell out of the lime­light for a while, but has re­ally come roar­ing back.”

Glen Norton, the city’s man­ager of ur­ban re­newal, wel­comed the idea of build­ings tar­get­ing dif­fer­ent au­di­ences. “They’re both needed, we need all types of res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment,” he said. “We have to give our cit­i­zens a range of choice of hous­ing be­cause of needs and in­ter­ests change over time.”

Norton said Shaw’s plan for the King Street build­ing in­cludes strip­ping away the “ugly brown tin” that now cov­ers it.

“There’s a pretty nice brick build­ing un­der all that tin,” Norton said.

The mar­ket be­ing tar­geted by that build­ing, he added, will ap­pre­ci­ate the city’s pro­posed light rail tran­sit line.

“Shaw went af­ter this lo­ca­tion be­cause he wanted some­thing close to the new LRT line,” Norton said. “At that lo­ca­tion you couldn’t get any closer if you tried.”

The pro­posed LRT sys­tem will run along King Street from the Queen­ston traf­fic cir­cle to McMaster Uni­ver­sity. A spur line will run down James Street to the West Har­bour.

Shaw is founder of the Can­light Group of Com­pa­nies.

King Stuart De­vel­op­ment’s pro­posed projects are at King Street West and Caro­line Street North, and Mac­Nab Street North and Stuart Street.

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