By Ryan McGreal
Published June 09, 2006
The fate of the Lister Block continues to churn, as mounting challenges threaten to stall LIUNA's plan to demolish and replicate the building with $30 million in city rents to pay for it.
Bob Bratina, councillor for Ward 2, just announced a plan for Vrancor to buy the building, restore it, and rent office space to the city in a restored Federal Building - all for only $16 million.
The Vrancor plan preserves and restores two elegant buildings in the core, which makes more effecient use of existing infrastructure and sends the message that Hamilton is willing to preserve its heritage and reinvest in its core.
Politics and interests aside, this seems to make more business sense than LIUNA's plan.
Opponents claim LIUNA will not sell the Lister to Vranich for the $1.6 million they paid in 1999, but as Bratina pointed out this morning, "If LIUNA insists that the property is worth $5 million, I would suggest the City buy it [and] resell it to Vrancor for $1.6 million. The total cost to the City still comes in at over $10 million dollars cheaper than the [LIUNA] deal."
At the same time, today's column by Andrew Dreschel in the Hamilton Spectator drops a tip that the Ontario Heritage Trust might try to prevent Lister's demolition.
Lincoln Alexander, the group's chairperson, said, "[Mayor] Larry Di Ianni is going to be disapointed." Since Di Ianni negotiated the deal with LIUNA and has been a strong champion of the plan, this strongly suggests the Trust will try to scuttle the deal.
Brian McHattie, councillor for Ward 1, had asked Caroline Di Cocco, Ontario's Minister for Culture, to intercede should City Council vote to approve LIUNA's demolition permit.
The Minister punted, referring it to the Ontario Heritage Trust to make a recommendation. Di Cocco won't release the recommendation until after City Council votes in a meeting on Monday, June 12.
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