Gore demolition on hold for now, Farr says
There is no imminent demolition of the buildings at 24 and 28 King St. E. in Hamilton's historic Gore district.
Coun. Jason Farr, who represents Ward 2 downtown, and developer David Blanchard agreed Tuesday to stop the demolition while seeking a solution that would "maintain the architectural and heritage character" of the Gore properties, Farr said.
"This interim step allows time for continued community input, as well as dialogue between Mr. Blanchard and city staff," he said.
The city has also asked for an independent peer review of the engineering report undertaken by the property owners. That review will look at the structural integrity of the buildings, which were scheduled to be demolished in the next week or so, Farr said.
Blanchard has a track record of heritage conservation in the city, and has been "a gentleman throughout this," Farr said.
"Everyone wants to move forward positively on this, and I'm very grateful."
Gore Park is important to the community, and Farr said he remains "committed to finding a solution that allows us to maintain the architectural and heritage character of Gore Park while also trying to move forward with this exciting project."
Blanchard said he does too.
"I've always had it in consideration" the heritage value of downtown as long as the economics make sense, Blanchard said.
It is costing him to put the project on hold, he told CBC Hamilton. "And it's going to cost us to do whatever we might agree to do. I don't know what that means in the long term."
Blanchard plans condos and retail space on the property. He said he does not have an anchor tenant for the retail space yet.
He just met with an architect to draw up phase one of the project, he said.
Sean Burak, a local business owner who has been a vocal opponent of the demolition, says the reprieve is good news. He would still like to see firm plans for what will go in the space before the buildings are demolished.
"It's good news that they're going to wait," said Burak, who also owns an older building in the downtown core. "That was the biggest problem with all of this — what's the hurry? These buildings were functioning with tenants in them until a few weeks ago."
The plan originally included the demolition of five Gore buildings — 18, 20, 22, 24 and 28 King St. E. The plan was modified to only include 24 and 28.
Earlier this week, city councillors passed a motion to add the other three buildings to the city's downtown heritage registrar, which would mean a 60-day wait after a permit is issued before demolition can begin.