Now that a deal for the Lister block has fallen through yet again, there's going to be lots of finger-pointing.
Some people are really angry with LIUNA, and I don't blame them.
This is not just LIUNA's fault, however. First of all, City Council was the other half of this, and so they bear responsibility too.
Secondly, speaking as an entrepreneur, from a business perspective the more I learn about the proposed deal the less inclined I am to think that it was a good one.
A good business deal should not be so tortuous. That it was does not mean that the people participating in trying to put it together were necessarily at fault - it may be simply that the deal was bad.
A good deal is one in which all participants clearly stand to benefit. There is always risk involved, but the benefits should clearly outweigh risk to the point that the risk is worth taking.
As much as I have also been irritated with LIUNA's behaviour, they are experienced businesspeople. If LIUNA's executives aren't comfortable with the the deal the way City Council was proposing it, perhaps it is for good reason. They do, after all, have fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders just like councilors have to taxpayers.
I think it's worth stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture here: if office or commercial space were in short supply in downtown Hamilton and rental of space in downtown Hamilton was commanding a premium, the Lister would already be developed in private hands, and taxpayer assistance would not be necessary. That kind of demand would make it easy to put together a good deal for the building.
In the long term there are reasons for optimism, because Hamilton's future is bright.
Right now I think it is important that Hamilton implement demolition-by-neglect bylaws and enforce property standards, and that the province designate the Lister as a historical building. This would keep it in good condition until such time that market conditions make a good deal for the Lister something easy to put together.
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