City councillors will vote next week to put the former Sandbar Tavern— once a violent crack den—up for sale with several interested buyers eyeing the long derelict downtown property.
The general issues committee will vote Wednesday to declare the one-time tavern property at 193 King St. E. surplus, which means it would be sold at fair market value. There are about three parties interested in buying it, said Coun. Jason Farr of Ward 2.
'It's been something looming over our BIA for seven or eight years now. It's nice to see something finally being done.' - Susie Braithwaite, BIA executive director
Farr wouldn’t elaborate on who the potential buyers are, except to say that the property could be commercial or a mix of business and residential.
But recent coverage of the Sandbar’s future—with the International Village demanding some action, even going as far as tearing it down—has led to “easily three or four people with a real legitimate interest” in buying it, he said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if two of them became part of some kind of tender.”
The Sandbar building has long been a bane for the International Village. It was a common site for police calls, violence and drug activity. Since 2001, two people have been beaten to death there.
In 2006, the province seized it under the Civil Remedies Act because of the crime there, and gave it to the city. It was so celebrated that Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant attended the ceremony. But the property has sat vacant ever since, remaining a stain on the King East streetscape.
Hamilton police have debated using it since 2011 but have turned their attention to vacant land on Wilson Street.
In December, the International Village BIA passed a motion asking the city to do something with it, whether it be tear it down to build a parkette or some other option. Farr has been working with the BIA and the city ever since.
The International Village BIA is "ecstatic" about next week's vote, said Susie Braithwaite, executive director.
"It's been something looming over our BIA for seven or eight years now," she said. "It's nice to see something finally being done."
As for what she'd like to see, she lists specialty shops, a market, a cinema - "anything as long as it's a good fit with our BIA."
Braithwaite has described the tavern as "a part of our history that we’d love to forget and move on from.”
The BIA's pressure move led to “a greater public conversation” that prompted interested parties to step forward, Farr said.
Farr plans to include a stipulation that the future buyer must start developing it within a year or it will revert back to the city.