Comment 558

By fastcars (registered) | Posted June 02, 2006 at 21:15:29

Ryan

I want to congratulate you on your candor regarding RTH's agenda, both on and off the Lister issue. I applaud RTH because in essence--at it's core, RTH is pro-Hamilton. We all sometimes differ on what the most pro-Hamilton solution to an issue is, but the spirit of the argument--wanting what's best for the city--I think that remains close to all of us as we debate here.

I believe in restoration where possible and celebrate adaptive reuse. There have been many great examples in the city--from the Piggot/Sun Life condos to those at the architecturally less significant Alexandra Square/Undermount complex. Both rail terminals are back in use, both restored, albeit for differing purposes. I have a strong personal affection for Lister--I was a rural/suburban kid who's parents were smart enough to have us spend lots of time in the core in the 70s and 80s--and I remember the Lister in it's fading glory. The truth however, in spite of all the positive recent news, is that downtown has fallen a long way for many years. Developers and their lenders simply aren't sold on the future downtown--though a few have been encouraged by generous city incentives, which is great news. The Lister for all it's significance and beauty, has become an albatross around the neck of redevelopment downtown. While the reasons for it being in it's current state are open to debate--the fact of it's condition is plain and simple. The rebirth on James North is separated from the King Street corridor by black holes--namely the Lister and the now missing Tivoli lobby. If "sacrificing" the Lister means a replicated building with great Class "A" office space, vibrant street level retail and a reconnection to James North and King William--the sacrifice of losing the original will be worthwhile. Waiting years for some other redevelopment scheme to get off the ground will be suicide--and homocidal to the many surrounding buildings which have held out hope for the Lister's redevelopment.

If a new Lister brings warm bodies and dollars to the James North/King William/Jackson Square area--maybe efforts to save and redevelop the Tivoli can find some footing (and funding). Taking the time and energy to save the Lister and redirecting at the Tivoli might save the jewel from an ignoble fate also.

Though arguments can be made that there is a glut of office space downtown--much of what is vacant is Class B space--there is a lack of Class A space to some degree--and this prevents the city from being able to attract new tenants to the core. Any hope that a resurgent Stelco or Dofasco/Archelor/SeverStal might be lured back depends on Class A space. LIUNA and HiRise want to construct this space downtown--when they could easily make a far more reliable business case for building Class A space elsewhere--in what you refer to as Sprawl areas such as Ancaster, Stoney Creek or Burlington. In that sense, I think this proposal fits exactly with RTH's agenda.

Continued thanks for your support and acknowledgment of differing ideas and opinions here. Debate like this is healthy afterall, and a signal that there are many people that care about this city's future.

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