The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton sees shift toward intensific­ation

Multi-unit houses, stacked townhouses, apartments driving density push


Another parking lot in downtown Hamilton is poised to sprout highrise residentia­l.

Global asset manager BGO’s plan calls for three 27-storey towers and roughly 900 rental units on a sloping property on Main Street West just southeast of Hess Village.

That’s a lot of humanity and potential customers for the nearby strip of bars and eateries.

“Which is definitely what these ma and pop places need, for sure,” says Maggie Foseid, supervisor at Electric Diner on George Street.

“So it will be exciting to see a whole new wave of potential customers.”

The tower plan, which recently received conditiona­l siteplan approval from city hall, is part of a cresting wave of projects bolstering urban intensific­ation around Hamilton.

Denser forms of housing in the city’s built-up area have claimed about half of the applicatio­ns in the past five years or so, says Jason Thorne, general manager of planning and economic developmen­t.

“In 2023, we were 90 per cent intensific­ation. That’s a huge number,” he told council in a recent budget presentati­on.

And a big change. A decade ago, when he started with the city, single-family homes commanded about 85 per cent of the mix, Thorne said.

“That’s turned on its head now. We’re seeing only about 15 per cent singles, and where we’re really seeing the developmen­t in housing is multis, apartments, stacked towns … and in intensific­ation.”

A “staging of developmen­t” report presented to council late last year offers a snapshot of this shift. The study flagged potential intensific­ation projects of at least 100 units that have been pitched in the past three years. It found that roughly 18,100 units subject to laterstage planning approvals could be on the horizon.

That doesn’t mean necessaril­y mean they’ll be move ahead as pitched, planners note. Some are subject to Ontario Land Tribunal

(OLT) challenges. Also, approvals are one thing, but shovels in the ground another, as evidenced by some local developmen­t plans delayed by a slowing market.

Among the projects are the 27storey towers planned for the Main West parcel between George, Caroline and Hess streets. Consultant­s representi­ng the developer didn’t immediatel­y respond to a request for comment.

Here’s a sample of others that stand to change the urban landscape:

■ 163 Jackson St. W.: Television City calls for two 32-storey residentia­l towers and 642 units at the former CHCH headquarte­rs;

■ 41 Wilson St.: The Design District involves three 30-storey towers and 931 units at a downtown parking lot;

■ 488 Upper Wellington St.: Labour union LIUNA and partner Fengate are building a six-storey rental building with 261 units at Inverness Avenue East, a former Mountain police station site;

■ 211 John St. S.: Slate Asset Management plans to construct 14-storey and 27-storey buildings with 769 units at the Corktown Plaza and parking lot.

■ 360 King St. W.: Vrancor is working on a 25-storey building with 300 units near Queen Street as part of a multi-phase project at the grounds of an old orphanage;

■ 60 Caledon Ave.: Victoria Park Community Homes and Hamilton East Kiwanis NonProfit Homes are teaming up on 266 units of affordable housing at a former school site off Upper James;

■ 20 Reid Ave. N.: Roxborough Park, at the site of a former school and public housing in the east end, involves 164 townhouses. A new 10-storey, 103unit CityHousin­g building stands nearby;

■ 1842 King St. E.: New Horizon envisions four 13-storey buildings and four four-storey townhouses with 1,341 units between them where Brock University once had a satellite campus in a squat building.

In a different measure, the staging report also examined subdivisio­n applicatio­ns:

About 17,000 units “could be realized” through draft plans between now and 2026, with an expected mix of 2,800 singles and semis; 4,800 townhouses; 9,400 apartments.

Over time, applicatio­ns have “skewed” more toward greater density, Heather Travis, a manager in the planning division, said in presenting the report to councillor­s.

“It’s indicative of seeing the developmen­t community start to respond to different policies that we have in place encouragin­g higher-density developmen­t and some of the more ‘missing-middle’ developmen­t.” That’s framed by council’s decision to grow within Hamilton’s urban area, rather than sprawling into outlying farmland, which was the focus of a pitched political battle between the province and city officials.

In late 2022, Premier Doug Ford’s PC government imposed a roughly 5,000-acre urban expansion on Hamilton, rejecting the city’s plan to hold the boundary firm.

Then, about a year later, in an abrupt U-turn, the province announced it would reverse the expansion along with a slew of changes in other municipali­ties.

With a mind to prevent sprawl, Hamilton has prezoned downtown for highrises and is setting the stage for intensific­ation along major transit routes like the future lower-city LRT corridor.

The city is also allowing for “gentle density” in neighbourh­oods where single-detached homes predominat­e through such housing forms as secondary suites, townhouses and converted triplexes and fourplexes.

That’s part of an ongoing effort to update residentia­l zoning. Staff are to present the latest on that to councillor­s on Feb. 23. A report on mid-rise zoning is expected to follow later this year.

 ?? CATHIE COWARD PHOTOS THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR ?? Constructi­on on the Television City project continues at 163 Jackson St. W.
CATHIE COWARD PHOTOS THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR Constructi­on on the Television City project continues at 163 Jackson St. W.
 ?? ?? A developer plans to build three 27-storey towers just southeast of Hess Village.
A developer plans to build three 27-storey towers just southeast of Hess Village.

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