'It has to be beautiful': City holds contest to design new Promenade Park

It's been dubbed a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity — a centerpiece so key that the west harbour development counts on it. So the city is holding a contest.
The city is holding a design competition for Pier 8's Promenade Park. (City of Hamilton)

It's been dubbed a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity — a centerpiece so key that the west harbour development counts on it.

So the city is holding a competition to see who has the best designs for the new Pier 8 Promenade Park.

The city is putting out a call for designers and landscape architects to submit their ideas for the waterfront development. The promenade park is about 30 metres wide along the north and east of Pier 8.

"The waterfront in Hamilton is a once-in-a-generation opportunity," said Aidan Johnson, Ward 1 councillor. "It has to be beautiful."

The public space is just one element of a project that includes nine blocks of new housing units on Hamilton's waterfront.

The city has spent more than 15 years planning what will go on Piers 7 and 8.

That's when it began work on the Setting Sail secondary plan, a years-long battle to map out what will go where on Hamilton's west harbour lands.

In 2013, the Hamilton Port Authority agreed to terminate a lease early that would free up Piers 7 and 8. That led to a plan that includes as many as 1,500 condos, and public space that includes a park, a bike trail and the promenade park.

On Apr. 18, the city will issue a request for qualifications to find one company or consortium interested in developing the land. It's the first step in a three-phase process, said project lead Chris Phillips. It hopes to choose a winning bidder next spring.

The city has already spent millions to ready the infrastructure to ready the land. This year, it hopes to spend $7.1 million to replace marina docks and get the necessary zoning changes for a developer to eventually come in and build on the land.

As for the park, the design competition request for proposals will run from May 8 to July 20. From July 31 to Aug. 18, the public will comment on the designs. The construction budget is $6,490,000.

The public can also view the objectives and vision behind the plan at a public meeting April 20.

Phillips said the city wants a design that presents Hamilton has a continuous waterfront, from Bayfront Park through to Eastwood Park.

"We want to make sure we don't lose sight of the big picture, which is that this is one continuous waterfront area."

A bird's-eye view of Pier 8 in Hamilton. (City of Hamilton)

Note: Waiting for a city media release because it'll have art in it.