Comment 113631

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 23, 2015 at 16:22:58 in reply to Comment 113630

Glad that I got the attention of the Barton BIA! (I tweeted to them with a link to RTH comments about dying trees). Hope a solution comes up. Regardless of what you do, I recommend removing the mats until a permanent solution as it appears to be the wrong type of rubber.

Of if they must be kept for now, due to lack of budget for weed control, then perhaps cut a bigger hole in the rubber around the trunks -- even if you have do it yourself (should only take 2 hours for an experienced person with a good pair of heavy duty clippers). Something to protect the trees' survival until a permanent solution can be afforded.

Over the long term I hope more businesses open in the BIA, new bylaws force shuttered storefronts to open for businesses (perhaps a law that forces owners of businesses to offer their buildings for sale instead of converting a storefront to tenant rentals).

Tax credit for shuttered storefronts is indirectly keeping them shuttered

I also heard (from multiple sources, including via my spouse who goes to Sherman Hub meetings) that there are tax credits for unoccupied businesses (perhaps to help out a building owner unable to rent out for a storefront?), and also that sometimes this tax credit is bigger than the low rent. The side effect that seems to be created is that perhaps some older landlords of fully-paid storefront buildings, keep a store shuttered to collect this tax credit (more lucrative) rather than renting out the storefront at low rents. The more adjacent shuttered store fronts, the rents fall, and the shuttered storefront effect self-amplifies and spreads like a disease even if there's now latent demand to revitalize.

This unintended side effect of trying to support building owners having failing businesses, is affecting Barton (via amplification of shuttered storefronts, lowering rents, causing all buildingowners of storefronts in the area to prefer to take the tax credit rather than offer low rents -- because Barton rents are so low, that the tax credit is bigger!) and this needs to be adjusted or ended, by ending the tax credit, forcing the buildingowner to sell the building to some developer that will revitalize the building instead.

This otherwise benevolent tax credit originally aimed to help failing building owners, is unintentionally causing a malicious effect on Barton. For many (most?) of the buildingowners of shuttered storefronts, the building is already paid off, so it's not like we need to protect them with a tax credit, unlike back in the downturn era where the tax credits may have made more sense; they can simply sell at a profit (thanks to LRT value raise) to some willing storefront-revitalization developers once the tax credit is removed and they have no incentive to keep the building vacant.

This needs to be high priority in any list to improve the Barton area. I believe Matthew Green is now aware (as far as I know -- but any opportunity you meet him, please bring up the issue of de-incentivizing shuttered storefronts via removal of tax credits to building owners of vacant businesses, and re-incentivizing opening of businesses), and hopefully some action can occur on this sooner than later.

Barton BIA is too insulated from visitors/staff of hospital

One more-expensive modification is that the BIA should grow all the way to the Hamilton General Hospital, as hospital staff is a prime target audience and we've got a complete full block of shuttered storefronts firewalling that audience and discouraging them. I was visiting someone at the hospital and was struck how firewalled/insulated the BIA was from the crowd of people milling in front of the hospital; this needs to be fixed in any BIA reboot.

A lot of the existing stuff is already nice there, and only needs minor repairs (e.g. remediating the trees, weedwhacking the weeds growing out of cracks, fixing broken Xmas lights, etc).

This is fodder for a new article -- for somebody else interested in writing an article about rebooting the Barton BIA (With the new information known, like LRT now funded) -- as a Barton BIA reboot will be a topic of interest, with the encroaching good businesses (e.g. La Luna Express, 541 Café, etc) book-ending the BIA area and the LRT to the south, plus the new Cannon bike lanes, more SoBi infrastructure, future big increases in service to West Harbour GO station, etc.

Victoria and Barton should have been a gateway to Barton BIA

Victoria and Barton needs to be turned into a fancy intersection. There's a SoBi station, there's the plaza of Hamilton General Hospital, and there's the Victoria bike lanes. So a fancy intersection to attract pedestrians, maybe a gate of arches over Barton at Victoria, as a special draw to the Barton BIA. Not sure where the budget would come from, but there are dozens of people milling about, smoking outdoors in front of the hospital, and the BIA needs to become a tourist trap to these people milling about in the hospital plaza. Wheelchair-friendly signaling and fancier painted crosswalks that attracts even the old/disabled to go a little further. The Victoria-Barton intersection needs to be visible as a fancy gateway intersection of some kind. If budget is tight, then do a fancy themed crosswalk or possible "milepost sign" at one of the corners. It needs "pull". This also means high priority in "breaking the firewall" (eliminating the shuttered storefront section- east of La Luna Express, to make it open and welcoming to the pedestrian density that's occurring in the Hamilton General Hospital region. Right now, Barton BIA is not. Work in breaking the firewall needs to be made a capital maximum priority, including maximum de-incentivization of keeping a storefront shuttered (elimination of any side-effect-tax-credits, etc), and this needs to be done ASAP -- and I mean ASAP -- since this is the cheapest fix without installing new infrastructure yet. With more businesses paying BIA fees, surgical improvements can occur in the interim until full BIA reboot funding (if any later).

It's like another pull on a sputtering lawnmower after some motor TLC

With the LRT being built not far south, this is a grand opportunity to "reboot" the Barton BIA within ten years, like another pull on a sputtering gas lawnmower after giving some very loving TLC to the motor (bylaw changes, eliminate the "shuttered storefront" tax credit, infrastructure changes, one block extension of fancy area to Victoria Ave for hospital, additional SoBi infrastructure), business value goes up, and we can get the area to purr nicely in ten years.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-08-23 16:59:23

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