Comment 77159

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2012 at 00:39:58 in reply to Comment 77120

"I know of a family with many millions of dollars who saw the potential of the International Village area and wanted to buy and develop buildings and the upper floors into apartments and or condos. They met with city planners and quickly decided to invest in Oakville." ~ Brian C

International Village is an oft misunderstood part of the downtown core.

Having been involved with redevelopment in the International Village since 2002, the above observations belies reality which I experienced over the last decade.

The fact is well before 2007/08 - which is when the arts marketing via James Street North started gaining momentum, there were numerous live/work lofts and creative street-front businesses already established in many parts of our downtown.

On street-front creative businesses, to name a few: one of the best commercial art galleries in Hamilton is on Ottawa street, one of the best cake shops, and meats & sandwich store is on Barton, one of the best used book store is on James South; and one of the best places to shop for foods from across the world, one of the most stylish used clothes store, and one of the most active theatres in Hamilton is in the International Village.

Here are just a few 'live+work lofts' in the International Village, created between 2004-07. There are many more lofts developed before and since then, in the International Village area including other parts of downtown outside of the more recent axis-of-art on James North.

For those who follow the growth of arts in Hamilton, this may come as a surprise. International Village missed a very interesting opportunity with its destiny back in 2004. If there was critical mass back then... who knows maybe today, Hamilton's arts district may have been in the International Village!

Contrary to perception, a large portion of Hamilton's creative community which is fueling its regrowth, continues to be located outside of James Street North.

As soon as our media catches up to this reality, I am hopeful that it will begin to paint a far more equitable and distributed picture of the creative sector in Hamilton. In doing so, the problems that our core presently faces may become far more clear, and the search for contextual solutions more focused.

One possibly solution if palatable, could be to rebrand the JSN Art Crawl into a 'Hamilton Downtown Art Crawl' with the same monthly public event - only now, on a rotating basis across Hamilton's various lower city BIA's. The goodwill and brand loyalty enjoyed by efforts on James North if proactively spread across the lower city, could help accelarate the economic and cultural growth equitably across the lower city, and become truly reflective of Hamilton's Creative City goals.

Mahesh P. Butani

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