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Old Posted Feb 8, 2013, 10:30 PM
movingtohamilton movingtohamilton is offline
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James Baptist Church sold

The Church has been sold, and a Hamilton architect working with the Toronto buyers says there is no plan to level the building.

Does it take buyers from Toronto to preserve buildings here?

http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/stor...hamilton-.html
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2013, 10:47 PM
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“I can say they are looking at the commercial and residential market on the site and it may even have a hotel,” he said.

“I know it will be something very bold, something exciting. It will not have the exact shape or form that it does now, but it will be creating landmark for downtown.”



^ That sounds interesting/exciting. Looking forward to seeing what they have planned.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2013, 11:30 PM
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huge news - if they get commercial on the ground floor then we may see the beginning of a continuous commercial James street rather than the current stark division between N and S.
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Old Posted Feb 9, 2013, 1:37 AM
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They must have some pretty deep pockets.

Repurposing a church will be a very delicate procedure. They mentioned the north wall is in poor shape, so let's hope there aren't any 'whoops' moments with this project.

Very exciting!
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Old Posted Feb 9, 2013, 3:27 PM
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Great article by Ryan McGreal titled "Bold Plans for James Street Baptist Church", on his Raise the Hammer website: http://raisethehammer.org/
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Old Posted Feb 10, 2013, 10:23 PM
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.

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Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 1:37 AM
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More detail on the repurposing. Just don't hold your breath in hopes that mature trees will return to James and Jackson.

Developer eyes new life for James Street church
(Hamilton Spectator, Meredith MacLeod, Feb 12 2013)

A Toronto developer who bought the historic but ailing James Street Baptist Church will reveal “dramatic” preliminary plans for the property in a few weeks, according to the Hamilton architect working on the project.

“The intention is to take some bold steps,” said Drew Hauser of McCallum Sather Architects.

“To make a redevelopment like that possible we will for sure be asking for more density on the site. We would like to build out to the lot lines.”

Preliminary plans include multi-unit residential, some commercial and potentially a boutique hotel, says Hauser. City officials have been “very receptive” during early talks, he says.

The developer isn’t ready to go public yet, but Hauser says he has completed heritage conversions in Toronto. It’s the developer’s first project in Hamilton.

“They bought the site because they thought the building was so inspiring,” he said.

“The developer values the cultural heritage and significance of the building. We will be working hard to reinvent it.”

Listing agent Maggie Steele said the buyer is enthusiastic about the economic and cultural revival of Hamilton.

“He would like the building to be part of the Supercrawl and art crawl events and connect the two parts of James Street.”

Worship pastor Christopher Clause says the congregation is relieved the church will find new life.

“They sold the building for less and did that in order to bless our community again. This developer seems like the right one for the city and this building.”

An immediate concern is serious structural problems on the building’s north wall, says Hauser. Other areas will require stabilization as well.

“This is a challenging site but it’s very exciting to try to reinvent its purpose,” he said, stressing that will mean blending the heritage with modern components.

The Gothic Revival church at the corner of James and Jackson streets was built between 1878 and 1882 and carries an Ontario Heritage Act designation. Hamilton’s Heritage, a city document, says this about the building: “Unique among Hamilton churches, the James Street church is particularly distinguished for its use of rock-faced masonry walls, dominant corner tower and heavily buttressed facades.”

The original features of the exterior facade are protected by heritage designation, including the slate roof, masonry walls and detailing, all windows and door openings.

The church had been the oldest surviving Baptist church in Hamilton. But the repair demands had been too much for the congregation, which listed the building last summer at $1.1 million.

“The upkeep was more than we could ethically stomach,” said Pastor Don Berry-Graham. “We would be pouring millions into the building when there are people who are hungry. We couldn’t justify that.”

He said the buyer has a “proven track record” and the project could be “something very special on that corner.”

Alissa Denham-Robinson, chair of the Hamilton Municipal Heritage Committee, is also happy about the purchase.

“It’s exciting that it could have some future. We’re very happy to hear it’s a developer who is interested in preserving the history of it.”

Along with any site plan approval or building permits, the project will have to go through a heritage permit process, Denham-Robinson said.

The congregation and staff moved out of the church about four weeks ago. Services have been held at Centenary United downtown and most recently at The Phoenix at McMaster University. The focus is to find a suitable space downtown to continue the church’s outreach programs with the homeless, the poor, at-risk youth and others in need, says Berry-Graham.

Both Clause and Berry-Graham said they hope city officials will work with the developer to find practical solutions to preserve heritage while allowing new uses.

“We’re praying the city will allow flexibility,” said Clause. “Otherwise, (the church) will fall down and be of no use to anyone.”

Steele said there was plenty of interest in the building. People she showed the building to talked about restaurants and nightclubs, even a circus school.

But many potential buyers were scared off by the heritage designation or the necessary repair work, said Steele, a realtor with Halton Heritage Realty. A building condition report before it was listed said the structure needs $2 million to $3 million worth of work.

Shortly after showing the building, Steele received an email saying it was unsafe to go into the northwest tower. She said the congregation then made the decision to vacate.

She says the deal is a win all around.

“It saves the building. It saves the congregation and it saves the city from owning a church that is falling down.”

The city already owns the boarded-up St. Mark’s on Bay Street South. It was bought in 1994 after a developer applied for a permit to demolish the then-126-year-old church to build a highrise.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 2:52 AM
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“The upkeep was more than we could ethically stomach,” said Pastor Don Berry-Graham. “We would be pouring millions into the building when there are people who are hungry. We couldn’t justify that.”

Good on them.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 3:30 AM
movingtohamilton movingtohamilton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thistleclub View Post
...
The city already owns the boarded-up St. Mark’s on Bay Street South. It was bought in 1994 after a developer applied for a permit to demolish the then-126-year-old church to build a highrise.
The city has owned a boarded-up property for 19 years? WTF?! Only in Hamilton could this be possible?
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  #10  
Old Posted Feb 13, 2013, 11:42 AM
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Actually, this is a case where the City actually had good intentions; I'd imagine it's pretty hard to find a buyer for such things.

There have been developers come knocking over the years but demolition of St Mark's was always a prerequisite for developing the site, so nothing's happened.
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Old Posted Jun 23, 2013, 7:15 PM
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Any news on this project? The news reported back in February that the plans were supposed to be released in a few weeks, and now it's June...
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Old Posted Jun 24, 2013, 12:40 PM
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Will be interested to see the business case.

Finding a future for St. Mark’s Church
(Hamilton Spectator, June 24 2013)

Boarded up St. Mark's Anglican Church on Bay Street South could be rescued from decay and given a new future under a city plan to turn the building into "cultural programming space."

The city is considering spending $1 million to $2 million to upgrade the vacant building and have it administered by staff at nearby Whitehern Historic House and Garden.

An open house at St. Mark's will take place Tuesday for city staff to present details about the proposal. The meeting is to see if the idea flies with neighbours, says Anna Bradford, the director of the Tourism and Culture Division for the city.

"Whitehern is a beautiful property but there is not enough programming space, especially when schools come to visit," she says, adding that a business case must be put together before the work on St. Mark's is done.

Students and other visitors to Whitehern could be directed to the former church for presentations, and it could also be used for small artistic events such as theatre or poetry readings.

For nearly a decade the city has been struggling to find a use for St. Mark's. The city bought the property in 1994 for $425,000 after its former owner, the Anglican diocese, announced plans to turn the rundown property into a highrise apartment complex.

Neighbourhood residents objected to the move and the city moved in as a peacemaker to keep the property as it was.
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Old Posted Jun 24, 2013, 3:47 PM
movingtohamilton movingtohamilton is offline
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So us taxpayers will be on the hook for not only the capital expenditures of the upgrade but also the ongoing operating costs. Eventually the Hamilton ATM will run out of $.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2013, 12:50 AM
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They've run out of ideas and so have I frankly. Churches tend to make good music venues, restaurants/ cafes, bookstores, etc. but the location doesn't lend itself particularly well to those uses.

source
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2013, 12:53 PM
movingtohamilton movingtohamilton is offline
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It's unfortunate the building has 2 brutally ugly apartment bldgs in such close proximity. I can imagine the local residents not welcoming another one. But is this an instance where the property should be sold to a developer? Since it's public property, how about a design competition for an interesting residential building?

The idea of the city spending $1-$2 million plus operating costs for the occasional "small artistic event", to keep the peace, seems over the top.
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2013, 1:58 PM
kwoldtimer kwoldtimer is online now
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Originally Posted by pEte fiSt iN Ur fAce View Post
They've run out of ideas and so have I frankly. Churches tend to make good music venues, restaurants/ cafes, bookstores, etc. but the location doesn't lend itself particularly well to those uses.
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I don't know Hamilton but wonder why you say this? Isn't it just down the street from your City Hall, with public parking across the street? Too much road noise for a music venue, perhaps?
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Old Posted Jun 25, 2013, 3:20 PM
thistleclub thistleclub is offline
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I don't know Hamilton but wonder why you say this? Isn't it just down the street from your City Hall, with public parking across the street? Too much road noise for a music venue, perhaps?
It would likely be painted as a satellite of entertainment district Hess Village, which has historically been a popular target of noise complaints from residents of high rises in the vicinity. This is reflected in a 2002 noise bylaw brief uses a 65 decibel reading from the 11th floor of a Jackson Street high rise as a yardstick. In that case, Hess and George is two blocks away. There are high rise apartments immediately next to St. Mark’s to the north, south and west. Community goodwill is bound to be a challenge, which is possibly why the city has chosen to play up demure possibilities such as poetry readings.
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Old Posted Jun 26, 2013, 12:18 AM
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This is quite an interesting story, really. I mean, when so much else has been ignored and left to ruin, why has the City grasped onto St Mark's so tightly over the years? In terms of the history and beauty of the structure, it doesn't even compare with others in the lower city. It would seem they're stuck in this mentality of previous investment; they've been holding onto it for so long they can't foresee any other outcome than this. I would have to agree that while it should be saved, $1-2MM is too much for that sort of nebulous function. Find somebody with a great idea and give it away - that would be more responsible than this.
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Old Posted Jun 26, 2013, 12:26 AM
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It would likely be painted as a satellite of entertainment district Hess Village, which has historically been a popular target of noise complaints from residents of high rises in the vicinity. This is reflected in a 2002 noise bylaw brief uses a 65 decibel reading from the 11th floor of a Jackson Street high rise as a yardstick. In that case, Hess and George is two blocks away. There are high rise apartments immediately next to St. Mark’s to the north, south and west. Community goodwill is bound to be a challenge, which is possibly why the city has chosen to play up demure possibilities such as poetry readings.
I was thinking more on the lines of a serious music venue (churches often seem to have great acoustics), like a base for your Chamber Music Society, but maybe Hamilton already has that covered off with other venues.
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Old Posted Jun 27, 2013, 7:02 PM
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This is quite an interesting story, really. I mean, when so much else has been ignored and left to ruin, why has the City grasped onto St Mark's so tightly over the years? In terms of the history and beauty of the structure, it doesn't even compare with others in the lower city. It would seem they're stuck in this mentality of previous investment; they've been holding onto it for so long they can't foresee any other outcome than this. I would have to agree that while it should be saved, $1-2MM is too much for that sort of nebulous function. Find somebody with a great idea and give it away - that would be more responsible than this.
I agree; at that price tag, the city really needs to get some sorta guarantee of revenue out of it.
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