Forty-storey build­ing eyed for Re­becca Street

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - NATALIE PAD­DON

A new 40-storey tower with a “unique” de­sign is be­ing pro­posed for Re­becca Street.

The plan for the four-storey podium build­ing at 71 Re­becca St. — bound by John and Catharine streets — in­cludes 371 res­i­den­tial units, 350 park­ing spots on two un­der­ground and three above­ground lev­els, a rooftop deck and 13,000 square feet of com­mer­cial space.

Part of what makes the de­sign of this site unique is the city’s plan to build a park in front of it, said ar­chi­tect David Premi of DPAI Ar­chi­tec­ture, who is work­ing on the project along­side col­league Pe­tra Matar.

“We knew that this site was spe­cial,” Premi said, not­ing they have been work­ing on the de­sign for the past year. “It had a lot of spe­cial sta­tus in the con­text of the ur­ban core be­cause it’s go­ing to be pro­vid­ing an edge to this very im­por­tant pub­lic space.”

Plans for the park date back to 2010 but money to be­gin de­sign work won’t

be in the bud­get be­fore 2018.

Be­cause it will pro­vide a back­drop to the park, the build­ing will serve as a “very im­por­tant vis­ual pres­ence”, said Matar.

This prompted the ar­chi­tects to con­sider cre­at­ing some­thing “very sculp­tural” in their de­sign, she said. It is too early to put a price tag on the project, which is be­ing de­vel­oped by Sonoma Devel­op­ment Group, but Premi called it “ex­pen­sive.”

A sum­mary from the July 13 de­sign re­view com­mit­tee at which the pro­posal was dis­cussed calls the build­ing “bold and in­ter­est­ing” but notes it will set a prece­dent for the area.

It calls the 40-storey height “ex­ces­sive” and de­scribes the tower as “too ‘chunky’.”

“In gen­eral, the mass­ing and scale of the build­ing needs to be re­fined,” it says.

The num­ber of storeys is the same as one of the twin condo tow­ers be­ing pro­posed for CHCH-TV site by Toronto condo devel­oper Brad Lamb.

From Premi’s per­spec­tive, height should be eval­u­ated based on the im­pact it has on the sur­round­ing area and the shad­ows it cre­ates.

For this project, he said they have con­ducted ex­ten­sive shadow im­pact stud­ies and they ex­ceed the cri­te­ria set out by other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. He said Hamil­ton doesn’t have firm stan­dards in place.

“Peo­ple get fix­ated on num­bers,” he said. “I don’t feel per­son­ally that it’s too tall.

“It’s within the sort of clus­ter of high­rises in the core.”

As for the tower, Premi said its ap­pear­ance will help cre­ate in­ter­est­ing views down­town from sev­eral dif­fer­ent van­tage points, in­clud­ing the Sky­way Bridge and York Boule­vard.

“It re­ally cre­ates some in­ter­est­ing vis­tas and makes some new con­nec­tions around the core of the city,” he said.

Anita Fabac, city man­ager of devel­op­ment plan­ning, her­itage and de­sign, said in an email that staff is still re­view­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion.

“At this point in time, we do not have a po­si­tion on the pro­posal.”

DPAI AR­CHI­TEC­TURE

Artist ren­der­ing of build­ing.

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