Church fa­cade in no dan­ger of top­pling, city says

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN mvan­don­gen@thes­pec.com 905-526-3241 | @Mat­tatthes­pec

The City of Hamil­ton says the stone fa­cade of the former James Street Bap­tist church is in no dan­ger of fall­ing down de­spite the un­cer­tain fu­ture of an ad­join­ing 30-storey condo project.

Her­itage ad­vo­cates were out­raged when the city granted per­mis­sion to de­vel­oper Louie San­taguida to knock down two-thirds of the nearly 140-year-old her­itage church on James Street South in 2014.

The de­vel­oper said he would in­cor­po­rate the stone fa­cade into the new condo build­ing, but added en­gi­neers deemed the re­main­der of the church un­safe and un­sal­vage­able at any rea­son­able cost.

The Con­nolly project was re­cently placed in re­ceiver­ship, throw­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment plan into doubt.

The city was pro­vided with an en­gi­neer’s let­ter in 2014 as­sur­ing build­ing of­fi­cials the stand­alone fa­cade is “en­tirely self-sup­port­ing,” said chief city build­ing of­fi­cial Ed Van­derWindt.

“The ex­ist­ing stone walls pro­vide suf­fi­cient strength and rigid­ity to meet the re­quire­ments within the On­tario Build­ing Code,” he said, adding city build­ing in­spec­tors reg­u­larly check on the Gothic Re­vival arched en­trance and tower to en­sure “unau­tho­rized ac­cess” doesn’t oc­cur.

At the time of de­mo­li­tion, the city also re­quired a $50,000 let­ter of credit to help pro­vide for con­ser­va­tion of the fa­cade fac­ing James Street.

A gi­ant stained glass win­dow that dom­i­nates the front of the fa­cade was dam­aged dur­ing a 2014 storm. The city said the de­vel­oper would have to re­pair the dam­age un­der a her­itage agree­ment.

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