Stoney Creek towers would be a Hamilton landmark, developer says
But it's an idea critics call 'window dressing' on a misplaced project
To hear developer Jeff Paikin tell it, you don't really know you're entering a city when you head westbound on the QEW from Niagara toward Hamilton. But he says his three planned Stoney Creek towers, roughly the size of Mississauga's Absolute World buildings, would change that.
The president of New Horizon Development Group wants to build three condo towers — one 48 storeys, one 54 and one 59 — at 310 Frances Ave. If approved, they'd be the three tallest buildings in Hamilton. It's an area without regular bus service, served only by trans cab. It also needs sewer infrastructure upgrades to service the estimated 2,500 Hamiltonians who would live there.
Paikin said these are surmountable obstacles. Height isn't the enemy, he said. Height is a landmark.
"When you drive the QEW, there's no distinguishing mark that says 'Now you're in the city of Hamilton,'" he said. "Hopefully, this will help put it even further on the map."
Viv Saunders calls that "window dressing."
Saunders is part of the Lakewood Beach Community Council. She was among the seven residents who told city council's planning committee last week that the project just doesn't fit. The area, north of the QEW near Green Road, is mostly single-family detached homes and townhouses.
Frances Avenue itself is a residential cul-de-sac, she said, and it can't handle car traffic from 1,826 residential units. The street is too narrow for bus service, she said, and running buses along North Service Road would be a safety hazard. There's nowhere for them to even pull over.
"We also don't have sidewalks," she said.
The project is on a parcel of land earmarked for high-density since the 1970s. It's also one of the few areas in Hamilton with no restriction on building height. Paikin's project only requires site plan approval, and top city planning staff can grant that. It doesn't have to go to council.
Coun. Maria Pearson (Ward 10) said she'll either hold a public information session or mail out a notice of the project to residents. Paikin said New Horizon would attend a public session.
He believes his development will give the city incentive to beef up transit service there.
"The thing I can comfortably say is without more people, there will be no chance for transit that's typical to an urban setting. With a greater need, there's an opportunity to make transit financially viable."
Pearson said the city is looking at more transit north of the QEW, but people have to support it. "I need butts in the seats to keep the system going," she said. "It's not going to be cheap to run the buses … Use it or lose it, and we'll see where it goes from there."
The project inched forward this week. New Horizon met with city planning staff Wednesday, and the two sides will meet again.
The plan also includes a four-storey podium that would connect the three buildings, and about 400 square metres of commercial space.
Paikin, who grew up on Hamilton Mountain, has numerous projects in the works.
His company is behind the Essence town homes development in Waterdown, the four-building Trend condo complex in Waterdown, Sapphire condos in Stoney Creek, and Peachy town homes in Winona. It's also building Bridgewater Residences in Burlington, Utopia town homes in Beamsville and Focus town homes in Brantford.