Developer returns to Hamilton with two projects
Vernon Shaw turned Pigott building into condos two decades ago
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.