William Thomas Residence

A rendering of the William Thomas Residence proposed for the L-shaped lot surrounding the Lister Block in downtown Hamilton. (Urban Solutions)

The L-shaped vacant lot that surrounds the Lister Block is set to be the first of a handful of locations along James Street slated for high rise developments to see construction actually begin. 

The city's planning committee on Tuesday approved a zoning change that allows owners Liuna and developers The Hi-Rise Group to move forward with a 21-storey, mixed-use building that could house 146 apartments geared to students.

They also plan to build ground-floor retail space in the $45 million project. Council approval of the zone change next week is the next approval required.

The 21-storey building will be a significant change for the James North skyline, currently made of up three to six-storey buildings.

It's also one of several high-rise buildings proposed for the corridor: Also proposed on James North are the 22-storey Tivoli Condos and the 30-storey Connolly Tower on James South. 

Look like two buildings

In the plan up for zoning approval Tuesday, the developers propose a project that will be designed to appear like two separate buildings.

The James Street side of the lot was formerly home to the William Thomas Building, built in the 1850s, which was in disrepair when it was demolished in 2010.

William Thomas building

City planning documents include a photograph from Historical Hamilton showing the condition of 46-52 James Street North before the William Thomas building was demolished in 2010. (City of Hamilton via Historical Hamilton)

The four-storey stone façade has been sitting in storage in a warehouse, and will be restored and rehabbed in the new plan.

Details about the project as it's proposed include:

  • Four-storey building on James Street North (with the former façade reconstructed).
  • "Slab"-style tower on top of that podium, constructed to 21 storeys.
  • Entrance on Rebecca Street set 15 metres back from the street with a landscaped plaza.
  • 146 units (one-, two- and four-bedroom furnished suites with kitchenettes and bathrooms) that could accommodate up to 388 students.
  • Parking for 29 vehicles, with the possibility of off-site parking furnished by the city or by the developer pitching in "cash in lieu" of the parking spaces required.

Sergio Manchia, a consultant at Urban Solutions working on behalf of the developers, said the development will have a "positive effect" on businesses in the core.

"It will mean an increasing number of people living in the downtown core," Manchia said.