After a looooong delay, Jason Leach is back prowling the streets for the RTH Downtown Update.
By Jason Leach
Published May 09, 2010
Okay, folks - before Reg Beaudry follows through on his threat to kill me due to the long absence of a downtown update, it appears as though I've finally scraped up enough material to cobble together another segment.
Truth be told, not much has been happening downtown in the past year or two (unless you enjoy being updated on all the hotels and condos that aren't going to be built).
However, the past six months has seen a marked turnaround in downtown activity and I'm happy to report some of my findings. Please add your own updates below if you have a noteworthy tidbit to contribute.
Because I love living in Strathcona, I'll start in my own hood with some exciting updates. Residents have long complained about the lack of local places to eat, drink and be merry.
Unlike Kirkendall, which has Locke South as its community centre, Strathcona's community life is centred around Victoria Park. Having multi-lane truck freeways as our 'commercial' streets certainly doesn't help the cause, but lately some enterprising restaurateurs have decided to take a stab at these less than enjoyable streets.
Rolly Rockets BBQ has opened at King and Locke and so far has been a hit in the neighbourhood. The food is dynamite - and cheap! The owner is a great fellow and a lot of work has gone into changing the feel of the place, which was formerly a seedy drug bar.
Over on the QEW, I mean York Boulevard, a fabulous new eatery has just opened. Stonewalls Gastropub is a great addition to the neighbourhood and seems to have struck a balance between being a sophisticated restaurant where one can enjoy a nice dinner date or bring the whole family and take advantage of the $7.00 kids menu.
The renovation of this old warehouse just west of Queen is extensive and the finished product is marvelous. Like Rolly Rockets, head over the check this place out quickly!
I just got back from the grand opening and, and wow! What a great scene. The place was jammed, with not a single seat available - and it's no small restaurant. The food is really good and the vibe is wicked. This place looks to have a great future ahead of it.
Work continues on the new community garden in Victoria Park and the revitalized Farmers Market/Library further down York. Two-way conversion of a short stretch of York will also be welcome news and hopefully help to calm down some of our downtown highways.
Over on James North, great work continues as new businesses renovate and prepare to open on this revitalized stretch. The Brain, just north of Mulberry, is a brilliant cafe that may have struck the perfect balance in its interior design and atmosphere.
I could spend hours here working, reading or chatting with friends. The coffee cake is truly amazing and the coffee served in French Press is a great touch not yet common in Hamilton.
My Dog Joe should be opening within a month at the corner of James and Mulberry, complete with a great street patio. Things continue to evolve on James North.
Finally, a few condo and loft projects are worth noting and we'll keep our fingers crossed that each project can reach construction stage.
First the Film Work Lofts on King William could be a slice of good news on a street that has really fallen from fame in the past five years.
It's been sad to watch King William struggle in the face of uncertain projects, building demolitions and business closings. More residents living in the area can only help to turn things around.
Urban West Condos is a great infill project at Aberdeen and Dundurn, despite the cheap-looking website. Hamilton needs many more projects like this on street corners all over the city.
A new condo proposed by Options for Homes can be seen on Councillor Brian McHattie's (Ward 1) website. This project would add more condo units downtown and increase the density in the heart of the city.
Herkimer at Bay has reportedly sold over 50 percent of its units during their first weekend of open houses. This gorgeous building is being given a top-notch renovation and conversion to condo. This is a great project in the heart of Durand.
Down at the waterfront, the recreation master plan has been completed and is full of fabulous development and design ideas [PDF link].
Finally, this shouldn't really be big news, but in Hamilton it always is. Bike lanes have opened on Dundurn South and fit wonderfully with the feel of the street.
If the Urban West condos are a success, perhaps we'll see someone redevelop the large warehouse in the heart of this community at #220 and allow Dundurn South to become a fully redeveloped commercial and retail street.
It's a small step, but one in the right direction.
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