Church facade in no danger of toppling, city says
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.