Former crack den for sale: Councillors put former tavern on market

Councillors on Hamilton's general issues committee voted unanimously Wednesday to declare the once the infamous Sandbar tavern surplus to the city, to make it available to potential buyers.

Fresh hope for renewal of downtown Hamilton tavern that has sat vacant since 2006

Coun. Jason Farr has asked city staff to look at possible uses for the former Sandbar tavern - including tearing it down and putting a parkette there. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Hamilton councillors have decided to put a former Hamilton crack den up for sale.

Members of council’s general issues committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to declare the building at 193 King East, once the infamous Sandbar tavern, surplus to the city. That means the property would be sold at fair market value and councillors says there are several interested buyers.

For years, The Sandbar had been a hotbed of drug activity and violence, and two people had been beaten to death there since 2001. The city has owned the property since 2006, when the province seized it under the Civil Remedies Act.

“We need to bury the Sandbar forever and look toward a bright future,” said Jason Farr, councillor for Ward 2.

He said “three very serious” potential buyers are interested in the space, but won’t comment on who they are.

City staff, he said, have assured him they could draw up a contract that would require the successful buyer to redevelop the property within six months or a year after its purchase.

In December, the International Village BIA passed a motion asking the city to do something with the Sandbar property. Farr has been working with the BIA and the city ever since.

Last week, Susie Braithwaite, the BIA’s executive director, said she was “ecstatic” that the issue was going to a vote.

"It's been something looming over our BIA for seven or eight years now," she told CBC Hamilton. "It's nice to see something finally being done."

With files from Samantha Craggs