Comment 64148

By Freiburger (anonymous) | Posted May 28, 2011 at 13:21:59

Great article Matt. I know some will take this affirmation as collusion with my "non-profit empire" to take over all the industrial wasteland properties in our fair but that's completely absurb.

The reality is that someone has to tackle these projects in our community. When the ICCA started in 2003 we wanted space in the core but 30+ property owners turned us down. They would prefer their spaces be empty than filled by a collective of eager to work artists (we now see these buildings being torn down in our core - good work owners!). So we ventured east. Part by hard work and part by chance we connected with the owners of the 270 Sherman complex and now 8 years later the community has the Sherman complex.

A private sector real estate company owns the property. The ICCA owns nothing. We're cool with that. Similar scenarios with each of our other building projects. ICCA staff, board and tenants own none of the assets we've played leading roles in revitalizing. That's not our primary interest.

The ICCA and our programs like the Cossart are intended to be motivators, enablers and collaborators on projects that most people in the business world thumb their noses at - old buildings, forgotten neighbourhoods, young creative entrepreneurs, creative businesses, etc. Over the past 8 years we've gathered far greater resources for the City and other groups than ourselves. Again, we're cool with that.

A number of years ago we conducted a study with our own money and donor support. The study revealed a need for creative space within our community, a need for focused attention on the creative sector, and an incredible history of other communities around the world reinventing industrial space to serve this growing sector.

A subsequent study (funded by the City) looked at a number of key properties including the property across the street from the Rheem Factory (City owned, now deemed surplus, and wasting in my estimation $500K a year in City funds to upkeep). The study went well but the tides have changed at City Hall and the project sites in limbo.

The resources exist in our community to solve these problems, deal with rebuilding these neighbourhoods - we're simply stuck in a battle over who gets to deal with the trash. As if dealing with this trash, this legacy of waste, is in some way highly lucrative.

My staff are underpaid and overworked. Not because I'm a tyrant and am hording the 'profits', but because the role we play in this community is completely undervalued just like most creative professionals in the non-profit or for-profit sector locally.

Most people are willing to pay for gasoline or bread or cars - very few people see the value in strategy, vision and creativity.

Hamilton is falling behind. Eventually city staff will start importing experts from elsewhere to deal with these sites > they're already touring facilities in other cities to court new developers when they've had a number of them begging to be given a chance for years.

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