Revitalization

Positive Legacy Needed for 45 King Street East

By Sean Burak
Published January 17, 2014

I hope Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr can do some digging in regards to the closure - and future - of Delta Bingo at 45 King Street East, the site of the old Kresge's.

45 King Street East (RTH file photo)
45 King Street East (RTH file photo)

Specifically, I am eager to see our Council do whatever it can to ensure that the future use of this building is appropriate for downtown - i.e. not another Bingo hall.

The word on the street is that another gaming operator could move in with little fanfare and create an electronic slot machine warehouse without going through any specific zoning requests or operator applications.

This is akin to us having a mini-casino delivered to our core without any public consultation.

Despite the (rather paltry) kickbacks received by local charities, Delta Bingo is widely regarded as one of the biggest detriments to King Street development, both in a physical building sense and in a downtown image sense.

By being proactive in driving positive change at that location, Councillor Farr can continue to build a great legacy for downtown, which started when he persuaded Council to take a stand against destructive property speculation at 18-28 King Street East.

18-28 King Street East (RTH file photo)
18-28 King Street East (RTH file photo)

Sean Burak was born in Hamilton but raised elsewhere in Ontario. He returned to his birth town at the turn of the century and has never looked back. Sean is the owner of Downtown Bike Hounds.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 10:35:14

45 King St E, and Blanchard's Gore buildings are a HUGE opportunity for our downtown that MUST not be squandered.

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By JayRobb (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:04:16

Put a new Hamilton children's museum in 45 King to bring families downtown and visitors from out of town. They'll stay and eat at downtown hotels and restaurants.

Run it as a nonprofit.

Build it thru corporate support, foundations, individual donors and maybe the Future Fund?

See Indianapolis, Chicago, Boston, Rochester and London, ON for what's possible. http://www.familyvacationcritic.com/10-b...

Use existing lots and municipal garages so the museum doesn't incur the cost of maintaining its own parking lot.

Partner with downtown arts and culture organizations to deliver programming and events.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2014 at 19:23:31 in reply to Comment 96901

This would be the same museum that's looking to relocate because it can't afford to repair the property it's in?

Adios, non-designated Gage homestead. Maybe can sell naming rights for the park.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted January 19, 2014 at 14:50:18 in reply to Comment 96901

They should defiantly include the parrot from Kresge's, I heard he had quite a vocabulary.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2014 at 14:15:25 in reply to Comment 96901

I've often thought something similar - use one of the upper areas of the Jackson Square and then convert some of that useless rooftop plaza space into an attached playground structure - by attaching it to the Children's Museum they could even fence it in if security is a concern.

Moving the Children's Museum right into the core would be neat. I'd hope we'd see it run a little better though - the old Children's Museum at Gage Park always seemed to be a bit weak compared to its counterparts in other cities I've visited.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 13:46:28 in reply to Comment 96901

While I'd personally prefer to see a children's museum in a location with adjacent green space, this proposal at least has the advantage of lending some credence to our claim to be the 'best place to raise a child'.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 17:37:03 in reply to Comment 96912

I've been to two great chldren's museums in the past nine months (Boston and Baltimore). Neither had adjacent green space and neither was any poorer as a result. It would seem more important to me to put it near transit connectivity so it doesn't need to offer the "driveway to driveway experience."

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2014 at 14:21:12 in reply to Comment 96912

In terms of green space, it is right across the street from Gore Park.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2014 at 14:30:35 in reply to Comment 96915

Gore Park doesn't really have a play-structure though, and I'm sure the city probably would have safety concerns about building one there.

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By JBJ (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 12:35:43 in reply to Comment 96901

An excellent suggestion. The London Children's Museum is a great space and something akin to that located in the old Kresge's store would be a great draw for locals and tourists alike.

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By verhovm (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:57:31 in reply to Comment 96901

As a parent of young kids, and an enthusiastic supporter of downtown renewal, I think this would be a fabulous idea.

The Hamilton Children's Museum (located at Gage Park) has been closed down since the summer while they try to figure out major structural issues that make the building potentially unsafe.

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4299555-children-s-museum-remains-closed/ http://www.thespec.com/news-story/408605...

Why not move it permanently to this site, or another vacant building downtown!

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By JayRobb (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 15:44:21 in reply to Comment 96909

Take the $7 million planned for a new children's museum in Gage Park and put it towards renovating 45 King.

Leverage city money to secure additional public and private sector funding.

Like pretty much every other community, make the children's museum a nonprofit so it has charitable status and an entrepreneurial spirit when it comes to programming, events and marketing. No reason why the city should be running it.

Moving the museum downtown:

Puts it within walking distance of hotels and restaurants for out of town families.

Puts it on transit lines for residents and close to parking garages and lots

Puts in the backyard of all the Baby Boomers who'll be in downtown condos and looking for ways to entertain their grandkids.

Puts it close to other downtown assets for young families, like the AGO, Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts, Hamilton Bulldogs, Art Crawls and Supercrawl.

Serves as a catalyst for Gore Park revitalization (summer outdoor programming across the street)

Gives that stretch of King St. an ideal anchor tenant

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By George (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:16:59

Original

RTH

Modified

RTH

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 23:58:25 in reply to Comment 96903

Are any of the pictured buildings still standing?

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2014 at 12:31:26 in reply to Comment 96944

Looks like Gore park. Starting form the left...2 buildings of Royal Connaught(Still standing) then the old post office, now John Sopinka court house at the corner of John,(still standing), then the top of the Piggott bldg (still standing) and lastly the old CIBC bldg which has been replaced buy a pair of modern glass towers

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2014 at 14:22:17 in reply to Comment 96903

This. Is. Awesome.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2014 at 15:01:17 in reply to Comment 96916

Here's another fave of mine, Tank Day at the gore (WWI)

Tank Day

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:44:32 in reply to Comment 96903

I've often thought that the vast areas of downtown Hamilton given over to vacant lots make it look like Hamilton was mistakenly targeted by a Luftwaffe raid several thousand kilometres off course (and a couple of decades late). (At least these bombers used bombs that destroyed buildings, but didn't kill people.) But, strangely, unlike European cities that were largely rebuilt within ten years, Hamilton decided to leave the bombed out blocks as some sort of weird memorial.

And now we have Gore Park's buildings looking like they were hit by a terrorist bomb blast ... which in a way they were!

By way of comparison, the city of Le Havre, which was almost completely levelled in WWII and re-built from 1945 to 1964 is now actually a UNESCO world heritage site!

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1181

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-01-17 11:50:01

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By dsafire (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:19:31

I think it would make a lovely theater.

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By PGWilson (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:42:38

That Kresge building is a sprawling showpiece, built strong in 1930 and expanded right back to King William in the 1940s.
Biggest, highest, driest basement downtown, wooden stock shelves still in place.
On the second floor, big staff lounge looks out onto Gore Park. Kresge safe sits there still.
Went on the market in the mid-90s for $2.8 million. Sold for $800,000.
So much space, so little purpose.
Love to see someone put a campus here.
Take a tour of Fort Kresge: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/talk/paul-wilson-a-sign-past-its-time-farewell-five-and-dime-1.1355844

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 17:37:57

Does anyone know what power the city has to prevent or restrict gambling in this building once Delta has closed?

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By TJC (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2014 at 00:41:41

This would make an amazing Winners!

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2014 at 13:48:53 in reply to Comment 96945

There's certainly space on the map. It's like the Linc/RHVP is a force field.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2014 at 11:02:40 in reply to Comment 96945

... that's actually not a bad idea.

The fact is that this location was built for an old-fashioned department store... but most old-fashioned department stores are gone. I mean, Eaton's is long-since collapsed, Sears is on the rocks, The Bay is in torpor, and Macy's has moved to much larger scale. Something like Morgenstern's or Budd's in Guelph would be an ideal fit for this, but those are rare creatures these days.

Winners and the like tread the line between mid-scale department store and liquidator - they cross economic lines well and would fit nicely into that footprint.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-01-18 11:04:49

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted January 18, 2014 at 15:08:51 in reply to Comment 96952

I agree that a Winners type store could work very well. In fact, Marshall's has a small footprint since TJX introduced it to Canada a couple of years back. There are only 14 stores in Canada, and they are looking to grow to 90-100 according to their website.

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By jeffzuk (registered) | Posted January 18, 2014 at 02:06:52

I for one will be writing Mr. Farr to say no gambling at that old site! I encourage everyone to do the same.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted January 18, 2014 at 14:46:08

What I would like to see, if this building, and the buildings next to it up to Cheapies (basically stopping short of the point where the buildings level off and share the same basic height and actually have a degree of uniformity) get a wrecking ball, and the site replaced with something similar to the Terraces on King in International village, with larger condo units and a bit more architectural flair.

Not only would this add density, remove what are fundamentally a set of stucco & rotting brick boxes, take out another decaying surface parking lot, offer ground level storefronts for new businesses, compliment the brick of the neighboring Right House and King William St and more people living downtown in view of Gore Park, the Right House and the shape concrete, old buildings on King William.

However that involves demolishing a building, so that of course makes it completely unacceptable.

Regardless of what goes in, or what gets preserved, I would like to see the site built up, not just reused.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2014-01-18 14:46:46

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2014 at 15:42:35 in reply to Comment 96957

Bricks don't rot. There are enough empty lots to build these dreams on. There's simply no need to demolish. Why demolish when we have seas of underutilized land just waiting for redevelopment? It makes NO sense.

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By KevinBrowne (registered) - website | Posted January 18, 2014 at 19:08:40

I realize there's a good argument that a tech incubator / accelerator wouldn't be the best usage for that type of space, but I still think it's a cool idea! Shameless plug: http://www.softwarehamilton.com/2014/01/...

If you check out the Communitech / Tannery district in K-W you might see why some people look at that space and think 'tech accelerator'. As the companies look to expand out of the accelerator they start creating, buying up and renting adjacent local office space.

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By Stinson (registered) | Posted January 19, 2014 at 00:56:17

Stage Enter McMaster, Mohawk, satellite campuses or any other educational institutions.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2014 at 11:33:43 in reply to Comment 96962

You can always count on the public purse as a traditional curative to downtown Hamilton's ills.

thespec.com/opinion-story/2094068-mac-asks-city-for-20-million-for-health-centre

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted January 19, 2014 at 03:15:30

Yeah, it would be a perfect spot for a Winner's type store. Is the International Village ready for that, though? I think we might be a couple years away yet.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2014 at 10:30:42 in reply to Comment 96970

Not to be too picky, but the International Village runs between West Ave to Mary, including Main, King and King William.

I would consider this building to be in the Gore area.

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By saywhat (anonymous) | Posted January 19, 2014 at 20:34:18

Child's Museum is a terrible idea. No more Monday to Friday nine to five entities downtown please! We need to stop catering to that crowd and begin catering to it's residents.

A retailer like winners is a perfect fit. Brings foot traffic day and night. With the condos in the connaught across the road it just makes sense.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2014 at 10:53:55 in reply to Comment 96983

The last thing anybody needs at this point is to be picky. Take a look East on that block - there is a substantial chance that this property will end up a payday loan place or a parking lot. Let's call the Children's Museum plan B if they can't find a proper private-sector buyer.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2014 at 11:12:37 in reply to Comment 96988

The current state of downtown is the result of decades of following a beggars-can't-be-choosers mentality. The risk that this property will turn into another low-quality, low-value use is precisely why we need above all to be picky. This is prime real estate at the heart of the downtown core: we cannot afford to accept anything less than an excellent use that will add real value to the district.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 20, 2014 at 11:43:53 in reply to Comment 96989

Sorry, I meant "picky" as in "any good usage would be a big improvement and don't obsess over this usage vs that usage". A nice private retailer would be ideal, but if that doesn't happen? Children's Museum would be wonderful too. If the seller can't get a good private-sector buyer who wants to properly use the space, then the city should step in and make use of the property.

There's an ocean of difference between "we should support any positive development of this space" vs "we should accept the status quo of demolition and parking lots and payday loan shops".

I realize that this is the crossroads as figuratively as it is literally - it's the connection between the success of James Street and the... well, not-so-success of King. I don't care what kind of business or museum or office or whatever gets that space, as long as it's a positive and successful one.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-01-20 11:49:30

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By xyz (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2014 at 09:10:06

Although it is unlikely to happen at the 45 King Street East building, a loft conversion a la 95 King Street East would reenergize the north side of King Street as well King William Street between Hughson and James.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2014 at 17:58:19 in reply to Comment 96986

Seeing as how the gore is the heart of the downtown, I would prefer it be kept commercial, and like the idea of a Winners or similar store. Check out Wellington east of Yonge st. in Toronto where they have similar scale buildings, and a park with a fountain, it reminds me very much of the Gore.

We have lots of places (including vacant lots and other underused buildings) in the downtown core that are not right in the heart of the Gore, and I think these other properties would be much better opportunities for loft conversions.

But those are just my two cents, and we are both entitled to our opinions. :-)

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By saywhat (anonymous) | Posted January 20, 2014 at 22:58:23

email and tweet winners canada. the more demand they hear, the more likely they are to locate here.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 21, 2014 at 11:38:59

I agree that public demand may be necessary for Winners to come here. City Hall courted them recently and were basically laughed out of the room. Meanwhile Starbucks is pounding the pavement looking for downtown locations. Someone needs to remind Winners that they aren't Nordstroms. Here, or the City Centre would be great locations.

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By Drop in a supermarket (anonymous) | Posted January 21, 2014 at 23:26:07

Put in a 24 hour supermarket there. Or an urban Best Buy, Canadian Tire, Target, or the like. I'd like to have one store be open later than 6:30pm in the core.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 22, 2014 at 21:12:41 in reply to Comment 97031

These are all over the place in the GTA. Awesome neighbourhood grocery stores with everything you need.

http://www.rabba.com

Ditto for these:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=sobeys%2...

The lack of neighbourhood retail in Hamilton is really astounding. Especially considering our streets were built as retail streets way back when. The legacy of dead freeways in place of commerce and quality of life rears it's ugly head all over this town.

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By Hasty Raba (anonymous) | Posted January 28, 2014 at 20:22:27 in reply to Comment 97079

Rabba is the exact same as a Hasty Market; over-priced, under-quality foods and produce. Nothing special about them at all.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted January 22, 2014 at 08:51:42

Word on the street is some sort of seniors residence going into the development.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted January 22, 2014 at 11:58:32

This would be a fantastic place for a MEC. Can the market sustain another store?

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By Everyone Loves Me (anonymous) | Posted January 28, 2014 at 20:23:39 in reply to Comment 97051

Hamilton (especially downtown) doesn't have a marketplace for MEC. Winners however.. that's a perfect fit! (discount vs high end)

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2014 at 12:32:03 in reply to Comment 97051

MEC was aggressively courted by Hamiltonians when they were building their Oakville/Burlington location.

They don't want us.

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By time flies (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2014 at 13:07:45 in reply to Comment 97057

They made that location decision 7 years ago... I doubt their impression has changed yet but perhaps it will soon.

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By PearlStreet (registered) | Posted January 31, 2014 at 01:10:14

Hardware store! 24/7 renewal!

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