Mohawk will buy Century Manor land, and the money will build a tower downtown

Mohawk College will buy 8.5 hectares of former Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital land on the Mountain brow — including Century Manor — and the province will use the proceeds toward a new mixed-use tower downtown.

The deal preserves a historic Mountain mansion and builds affordable housing

Mohawk plans to spend $9.51 million to buy 8.5 hectares of Mountain brow land that includes Century Manor. That money will then go to a new tower downtown that includes at least 20 per cent affordable housing. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Mohawk College will buy 8.5 hectares of former Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital land on the Mountain brow — including Century Manor — and the province will use the proceeds toward a new mixed-use tower downtown.

Infrastructure Ontario is in negotiations to sell the West 5th land to the city, which will in turn sell it to Mohawk College. The college will spend $9.51 million on the Fennell Avenue West property.

The province — in what it says is a done deal, regardless of the outcome of June's election — will put the sale proceeds toward new residential towers and retail space at 191 York Blvd., at least 20 per cent of which will be affordable housing. How affordable, says Hamilton-area MPP Ted McMeekin, is still being determined.

"We have to keep that building there," Mohawk president Ron McKerlie said of Century Manor. "We've committed to that." (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Chad Collins, city councillor and CityHousing Hamilton (CHH) president, says CHH hopes to be part of the development. It wants some of those units to be social housing. That would make 191 York CHH's ninth new building project.

"We're starting to see probably the most movement on the affordable housing file here in Hamilton since probably the 1970s," he said. "It's almost as if in the last year or two, our stars have really aligned."

The announcement Thursday was three years in the making. It also answers the long open question of what will happen to the Mountain brow land, which was once farmed by psychiatric patients at the former Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital.

Century Manor, a heritage building that's long been a favourite of heritage lovers and ghost hunters, will stay standing. The college will spend $9 million restoring it.

This is an early rendering of what the complex at 191 York Blvd. could look like. (City of Hamilton)
This is an early rendering of what the complex at 191 York Blvd. could look like. (City of Hamilton)

"We have to keep that building there," said Mohawk president Ron McKerlie. "We've committed to that."

Mohawk is still deciding what it will use the property for. As for whether Century Manor becomes a student residence, or an administrative building, or some other use, McKerlie said no one knows yet.

"There are no lights in there," he said. "There's no electricity. (We had) a flashlight tour, basically. It was in pretty rough shape."

McKerlie wasn't sure when Mohawk would formally take ownership, but it hopes to start work by 2019. 

As for the downtown project, the York Boulevard land is currently home to Community Living Hamilton. That agency will be offered space in the new building, said McMeekin, a Liberal MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.

The property at 191 York Blvd. will soon be home to a mixed-use tower. At least 20 per cent of the residential units will be affordable housing, although how affordable remains to be seen. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The full provincial investment will be about $15 million, $9.51 million of which will come from the Chedoke land sale, he said.

McMeekin said it will happen regardless of which party wins the June election.

"It's done," he said. "It's been through treasury board. It's approved. The money's in place. It's going to happen."

The announcement comes as the federal government is asking for proposals to give out $13.2 billion in low-interest housing loans. Collins will bring ideas for the city's ask to a future meeting.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca


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