Comment 79587

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2012 at 10:57:31 in reply to Comment 79509

The problem is, all of the residential upstairs units in Hamilton's small-but-beautiful 3 storey brick retail buildings went vacant some time ago, and it is legally difficult (and sometimes impossible) to conform these spaces to new codes and bylaws.

Some of these buildings are under 12 feet wide, and once you add interior finishes, maybe under 11 feet. And many have had the original staircases reworked or removed. To add a code conformant staircase to these buildings could occupy 20-30% of the available floorplan for both the retail and the residential unit, making the entire building borderline useless. If you want a separate third storey bachelor unit, the code may require a second staircase - and they no longer allow exterior fire escapes. So now your 12 foot by 80 foot building needs two interior stairways. If the main floor tenant wants to serve coffee, get ready to donate the final 40% of the floor plan to accessible washrooms. Oh and by the way, you can't actually run the business because you don't have space for 4 parked cars out back. I don't know what the answer is, but vacant buildings don't seem to be doing us any good so we have to figure something out.

City hall seems to be desperate for mega scale residential projects, but these will never be viable until the small scale spaces get renovated and filled organically. Then demand will rise to the point that the larger projects make more sense.

So unless we rewrite our position on codes and laws governing these upper units, the residential scene will continue to stagnate and the commercial development will never come.

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