What happens next with the towering James Baptist condo project

Now that the church is gone, residents want to see movement on a proposed 30-storey condo project at James Baptist Church to make sure the lot doesn't sit empty.

If the project goes ahead as planned, it will be Hamilton's third tallest building

Residents attended a public meeting for The Connolly project on James South on Wednesday. The developer will apply to the city for site plan approval, including approval for its 30 stories, in September. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The church is gone, so let's get on with it.

That’s the message some residents are sending to Stanton Renaissance about the James Street Baptist Church development project, now known as The Connolly.

The majority of the historic church has been demolished, leaving only its front façade and east tower standing. The Toronto-based developer plans an $80-million, 30-storey tower behind it with commercial space and as many as 260 condos.

Now that the church is gone, Durand residents want to see movement on the project, said Janice Brown, president of the Durand Neighbourhood Association.

“We want him to get on with it,” said Brown, who attended a public meeting Stanton Renaissance held at Whitehern on Wednesday to show residents its plans for the site. “We don’t want to see it sit vacant for ever and ever and ever.”

“At this point in time, what else is there? Let’s move along and let’s do the right thing.”

Stanton Renaissance demolished the crumbling church earlier this year, citing its failing structural integrity. The company will present its plans to the city’s heritage permit review subcommittee on Aug. 12, and ask councillors for site plan approval at a Sept. 16 planning committee meeting. 

We don’t want to see it sit vacant for ever and ever and ever.- Janice Brown, Durand Neighbourhood Association

Patricia Baker of Hess Street South attended Wednesday’s meeting to see the plans. She’s not happy with the planned height of the building, which would be the third tallest in the city skyline. She also wonders about a river flowing underground and how it might impede progress.

But she’s also anxious to see the project move forward.

“We have to have something in there, absolutely,” she said. “That’s essential. We quite agree with that.”

The condos will be one to three bedrooms and marketed to those who want an “urban lifestyle,” said Louie Santaguida of Stanton Renaissance.

The company is still grappling with where to put the parking, and like the Tivoli condo project, is considering a car stacker.

Marketing and sales are due to start this fall. Santaguida hopes to sell 65 to 70 per cent before he moves forward. He'd like to see shovels in the ground next spring.

Santaguida has drawn scrutiny from media reports that three associated companies have gone bankrupt and two others have been placed into receivership since 2011.

There’s no reason to believe the Connolly project will run out of money, said Coun. Jason Farr of Ward 2.

“I haven’t to date seen anything other than forward momentum as it relates to the owner, the developer and this proposal,” he said.

“I have not seen to date any momentum shift. It seems to be heading forward.”

When he talks to residents, he said, they’re mostly just anxious to see it move forward.

“That’s what I get asked more than anything. ‘Is something happening? Is something happening?’ After a night like this, I get the chance to respond to residents and say yes, something is happening.”

Hamilton's tallest buildings

If The Connolly goes ahead as 30 stories, here's how it will measure up on the city's skyline:

  • Landmark Place: 43 stories, 127 metres
  • Olympia Apartments: 33 stories, 98 metres
  • The Connolly: 30 stories, 105.8 metres
  • Stelco Tower: 25 stories, 103 metres
  • BDC building: 22 stories, 91 metres


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