Heritage buffs in Hamilton can rest a little easier knowing the James Street Baptist Church is here to stay, according to architect Drew Hauser.
The Gothic Revival church in Hamilton’s downtown was put on the market this past summer and listed at $1.1 million. Earlier this week, a sign with bright read letters announced the property had been sold, but nothing was revealed about the buyers or their plans for the building.
'There will be some delicate additions and maybe a few very bold additions, partly to stabilize the building and partly to make it work with what they have in mind.' —Drew Hauser, architect
Drew Hauser, an architect at McCallum Sather Architects in Hamilton, is working with the buyers on their future plans and says they have no interest in levelling the historic building.
"They bought the site because the building is there. To them, there is a huge value in heritage properties," he said.
The buyer is a firm in Toronto making its first foray into the Hamilton market. It is remaining anonymous until it sorts out the details of its plans for the building, which will be announced in a couple of weeks, Hauser said.
He said the buyer wants to respect the heritage of the site, but that it won’t purely be a preservation effort.
"There will be some delicate additions and maybe a few very bold additions, partly to stabilize the building and partly to make it work with what they have in mind," he said.
A structural engineer has been working alongside Hauser to assess some problems with the building, particularly the north wall, which Hauser said is so damaged the congregation was forced to relocate several weeks ago.
But as for specifics as to what the developers have in mind, Hauser was keeping mum.
"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."