Comment 65364

By Buster (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2011 at 23:13:19

A vacant former knitting mill in Hamilton’s poorest neighbourhood is the first purchase of a unique partnership between the city and a private equity company.

Hamilton Realty Capital Corporation bought the Cannon Knitting Mills at Mary and Cannon streets in the Beasley neighbourhood for an undisclosed price in January. Environmental assessments and rezoning applications are under way as the developer and a team led by local architect David Premi determine the best and most feasible uses for the property.

Those possibilities include residential, retail, office space, artists’ studios, museum space, a post-secondary campus or maybe a mix of all of that.

The 110,000-square-foot building is a complex of about five structures built between 1854 and 1950. It had been up for sale for $800,000 for a number of years, and while several investors from Toronto came to take a look, for various reasons — the scale and condition of the building, potential environmental problems, the nearby Good Shepherd building, the traffic hurtling by on Cannon — they all shied away.

The owners of the mill, L & S Realty, started to hint that taxes, insurance and utilities might leave them no choice but to tear the building down, says Glen Norton, acting manager of the city’s downtown renewal division and manager of HRCC.

“We urged them not to do that and quite rightly they said, ‘Put your money where your mouth is.’”

HRCC, which is backed by Forum Equity Partners, a Toronto-based private real estate developer, wanted to keep the purchase quiet until they had a plan worked out for the building’s future, but the deal hit Hamilton news blog Raise the Hammer this week.

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