At some point, even the most die-hard squelchers have to admit that the downtown they love to hate is not the place they think it was.
By Ryan McGreal
Published May 30, 2014
People were outside at Gore Park today. It wasn't a festival or anything, it was just lunchtime. People were enjoying a meal (some of them from a local restaurant or food truck), socializing, conversing, reading, listening to the live music, sitting on the grass, strolling around, taking in the ambience. You know, doing human things.
People outside at Gore Park
What is this, Europe? Nope, it's Hamilton. Turns out we're not situated in an urban planning twilight zone after all. Things that work in other cities work in Hamilton, too.
It is worth noting that people were congregating today at Gore Park despite the fact that most of the block between James and Hughson is boarded up, completely deactivating what should be a lively urban streetwall.
Gore Promenade with 18-28 King Street East in the background
Can you imagine if, rather than removing the tenants and clearing out those buildings for demolition, the owner had instead renovated them - as small-scale entrepreneurs are successfully doing throughout the downtown core even as we speak - and put in retail businesses that open onto the pedestrian plaza?
Can you imagine how nice a patio on the Gore Promenade would be? There were lots of people sitting outside restaurants the next block over, between Hughson and John, despite the fact that the pedestrian plaza does not extend that far.
People sitting outside on King between Hughson and John
Can you imagine how many people will be in close walking proximity to Gore Park once 150 Main West opens? And once the new 73-unit building opens across the street at 149 Main West? And then once the Residences of Royal Connaught opens? And once the Treble Hall restoration is complete? And once LIUNA goes ahead with the new condo they have planned behind the Lister Building? And once the Acclamation Lofts go ahead?
The new building at James and Vine is already well under construction and will bring 36,000 square feet of new office and retail space with it, most of that already tenanted. That's a lot of people within walking distance during the day. The McMaster Downtown Health Campus will bring another large group of people.
At some point, even the most incorrigible die-hard squelchers and defeatists will have to admit that the downtown they love to hate is not the place they think it was.
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