Announcement about future of downtown entertainment facilities expected Friday

The winning proposal for a multimillion-dollar renovation of Hamilton's downtown entertainment facilities is expected to be revealed Friday.

'It's a big development for the city' was all Coun. John-Paul Danko would say Thursday

Hamilton city councillors are anticipating an announcement about plans to revitalize Hamilton's downtown entertainment venues following their meeting Friday. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The winning proposal for a multimillion-dollar renovation of Hamilton's downtown entertainment facilities is expected to be revealed Friday.

It's anticipated that Mayor Fred Eisenberger will make the announcement following tomorrow's council meeting, according to Coun. Jason Farr (Ward 2), who said a non-disclosure agreement barred him from sharing more.

Coun. John-Paul Danko (Ward 8) also said he expects the mayor to share news on the revamp.

"[I'm] really excited about it," is all he would say.

"It's a big development for the city."

The city was weighing two proposals to revitalize FirstOntario Centre, the Hamilton Convention Centre and FirstOntario Concert Hall (formerly Hamilton Place).

Vrancor Group, a prolific Hamilton development company owned by Darko Vranich, has a $200-million plan that includes significantly renovating FirstOntario Centre and adding two mid-rise office buildings.

The seating capacity of the arena would be 15,400 seats, said Mario Frankovitch, Vrancor's project advisor, but architects have a plan to expand the capacity to the current 17,000 seats if it's needed at some point.

Vrancor also wants to expand the convention centre and renovate FirstOntario Concert Hall.

Vrancor wants to significantly revamp FirstOntario Centre and add two mid-rise office buildings. (Vrancor)

Hamilton Urban Precinct Arts and Entertainment Group, meanwhile, has a more sweeping plan worth about $500 million. The group includes Carmen's Group, LiUNA, Fengate Capital, Meridian Credit Union, Paletta International, dpai architects and Jetport Inc., among others.

The group wants to significantly renovate FirstOntario Centre and keep its current seating capacity, as well as FirstOntario Concert Hall.

The FirstOntario Centre as imagined by the Hamilton Urban Precinct Arts and Entertainment Group. (Hamilton Urban Precinct Arts and Entertainment Group)

It also suggested relocating the convention centre to part of Hamilton City Centre, and even proposed three high-rises that would include the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the convention centre, condos and commercial space, with two more possible towers at the corner of Bay Street and King Street East.


Dan Taekema


Dan Taekema is a reporter with CBC Ottawa. He has worked with CBC News in Hamilton, Windsor and Toronto and for newspapers around southern Ontario. You can reach him by emailing daniel.taekema@cbc.ca.

with files from Samantha Craggs


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