Two of Hamilton's heritage grants are about to receive a boost, but the fate of the historic buildings on the south edge of Gore Park that may benefit from these grants remains “up in the air.”
City council will vote on the change to the Hamilton Heritage Property Grant Program and the GORE Building Improvement Grant Program Wednesday that will allow property owners to apply for these grants for each address. Currently, properties that are bundled in the same deed or are part of a business are treated as one application.
Together, the two programs offer up to $200,000 for each property to conserve and restore heritage features. That means the five buildings in Gore Park — 18 to 28 King Street E. — can receive up to $1 million.
However, Coun. Brian McHattie said the Gore properties can take advantage of the grants only when they receive heritage destinations.
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“That's the key question here. Can these buildings be designated [as heritage]?“ he told CBC Hamilton. “And that's something that’s entirely up in the air at this time.”
The city is currently reviewing if the buildings or some components of them can be designated as heritage. Wilson-Blanchard, the firm that owns the Gore buildings, is expected to receive a report at the end of September, according to Robert Miles, a property manager for the firm.
The firm won't know how the proposed change to the two grants will affect the Gore buildings until it receives the report, Miles said.
“It really doesn’t change a lot, but if we are going be involved with the heritage [designation] in the future, there may be more money on the table, that's all,” he told CBC Hamilton.
Grants available city-wide
The grant boosts are not specifically aimed at the Gore buildings. Alan Waterfield, senior planner of the planning and economic development department, explained that the change recognizes that some properties are part of the same business but offer distinct features, and all qualified properties can apply for the grants on a per-address basis.
“It increases opportunities for them to access the grants,” he said.
Projects like the renovation of Royal Connaught can also benefit from the change, Coun. Jason Farr said.
"It's an amendment that has been mulled over for some time," he said. “We are basically putting a levelling playing field for those smaller property owners that are capitalizing on incentives to go by addresses and obviously increasing the incentive.”
The planning and economic development department approved the change last week, and both Coun. Farr and Coun. McHattie are confident that city council will see it pass.