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1 in 5 downtown Hamilton storefronts vacant, city report finds

New statistics about downtown occupancy and employment suggest the city should keep up its incentives in the core, planners note.

Employment in the core grew slightly to just under 25,000 jobs

A graph from a city planning report shows the breakdown of jobs downtown from Queen to Victoria streets and Hunter to Cannon streets, along with the James Street corridor from the CN railway to Charlton Avenue. (City of Hamilton)

In the downtown Hamilton "urban growth centre," 20 per cent of the storefronts were vacant in 2015, according to a new city report to councillors on the city's General Issues Committee, which meets Wednesday. 

That was up from 17 per cent in 2014.

The numbers suggest the city should keep up its incentives for downtown businesses, the planners note.

(City of Hamilton)

"This is a statistic that merits the need for continued city support and incentive for overall economic benefit in the downtown," the report notes. 

The planning department noted that some buildings were being renovated, and not all parts of downtown had such high vacancy. On James Street South, for example, between Hunter and Charlton, only 10 per cent of storefronts are vacant. 

(City of Hamilton)

25,000 jobs downtown

The report found a slight increase in the overall numbers of people working downtown, between Queen and Victoria streets, and between Hunter and Cannon streets, with the addition of James Street from the CN railway in the north and Charlton Avenue in the south. 

The city's trying to get to 250 people and jobs per hectare by 2031. By the end of 2015, the number of people and jobs per hectare downtown is 185, up slightly from 184 in 2014. 

In terms of jobs, that translates to 24,895 jobs, a net increase of 195 jobs over 2014. The growth was the second-lowest in the past five years downtown. 

New jobs were offset by the loss of three insurance companies downtown, which took 335 jobs out of the core. Three banking institutions also left the core, taking 100 jobs with them.

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