Jason Leach takes you on a whirlwind tour of current events downtown.
By Jason Leach
Published July 01, 2005
A cluster of new businesses have just opened at Queen and York and Hess and York...a possible sign of renewed interest in the neighbourhood with the new federal building being built nearby along with a new hotel, Premier Fitness Centre and a planned 6 storey condo.
The building on Queen St, just south of York, that used to house Peter's Restaurant Supply has been nicely renovated into three street-facing retailers:
One more small building in the city being reused for local, neighbourhood oriented retail. Now if we could only get those rotten trucks off of York and Queen.
Over on Hess, just south of York is a new pharmacy and a brand new retail/commercial building has been built waiting for new tenants...perhaps a Middle Eastern market or Asian restaurant would do great here - we'll keep you posted.
The Staircase Café closes on July 2, but have no fear. RTH has confirmed that several parties are interested in taking the space over and Hugh McLeod - current owner - will work with these parties to find the most suitable. Let's hope it's someone with the same vision and passion as Hugh and Kathy, and not some lousy techno club format or roughneck bar.
Also, Hugh has purchased the old variety store next to the Staircase and will renovate the building into an improv comedy club to ensure that it continues to flourish once the Staircase changes hands. Kudos to Hugh and Kathy on a spectacular model for others to follow and for creating the coolest, most comfortable spot in Hamilton for people of all stripes and backgrounds. We'll keep you posted on the new managers and the plans (hopefully not many) to change things at the Staircase.
Several exciting new projects are in the works downtown....watch for updates during the summer as we attempt to pry info from our various 'sources' and watch for some grand announcements later in the summer or in September.
Sidewalk reconstruction continues on Bay Street....while this project is giving the street a cooler look and better pedestrian area, I am disappointed with the massive right of way being retained for high speed vehicle traffic. This city will not see the street life it is capable of until we learn to make the proper (and tough) choices to narrow and reduce the size and number of traffic lanes on our streets.
James and John South are scheduled to go two-way this summer, but be prepared for a hack job by the city on this one. Streets like Queen and King in Toronto are one lane in each direction with parking on both sides, except rush hour. In Hamilton we refuse to bring proper life to our downtown retail streets and this two-way conversion will be the worst example yet.
There will be no parking on either street since Hamilton apparently needs two full lanes of traffic each way despite being one-fifth of the size of Toronto and despite the presence of a nearly deserted Claremont Access one minute down Main Street. That's not all - the street will not be two lanes each way, but will have portions where it is three lanes south (on James) and one lane north...hmmm, sounds like we're trying to go to two-way without really going two-way. Nice job, Hamilton.
Rob Newberry from the fantastic, and soon to be dearly missed, Staircase Cafe Theatre will be moving his wednesday night open stage to Pepper Jack's as of Wednesday July 6th. More details will be coming soon.
Finally, for those hoping to open their Hamilton Spectator on June 30 and find out what happened regarding aerotropolis at last night's meeting, here’s the news: Council voted 12-4 to move forward with an application for an official plan amendment that will lead to the rezoning of 3,000 acres for aerotropolis development.
They also voted to set up a community liason committee that will work with the city during this process to address concerns of neighbours. And they agreed to not expropriate any farmers...but those who wish to sell their land will be able to do so. Also, Dalton McGunity was on CHML this morning and sounded somewhat supportive of aerotropolis despite provincial regulations in contravention of the plan.