Andrew Allen makes a case for LIUNA's plan to demolish and replicate the Lister Block.
By Andrew Allen
Published June 16, 2006
No developer has been interested in the Lister Block for 15 years. What makes people think another developer will be interested in the Lister Block? It just rots and waits for some really serious fire to knock this building down. Then everyone will want a new fancy building to be built on the site, perhaps a replica.
LIUNA so far has had made three bids to redevelop the Lister Block. I haven’t seen any other developer making a bid to redevelop the Lister.
Look at what happened to Tivoli, a beautiful theatre that collapsed. After that happened we now have a group trying to find a developer to redevelop the theatre, so far unsuccessful. The problem is that we don’t have any developers interested in redeveloping the Tivoli. We’re just waiting for the main theatre to collapse as well.
Yet suddenly we’re supposed to think we have a line up of developers oozing to restore the Lister Block. I don’t want the same fate of Tivoli to happen with the Lister Block.
It's fantastic that the old Bank of Montreal, Victoria Hall, Pigott, Royal Connaught Hotel, CN Station (restored by LIUNA, by the way), and many other historical buildings have been or are being restored, but none of them have had a rougher trip than the Lister has had: crack house, fires, vandalism, abandon for 15 years, mould, and falling debris.
At times, I find the Hamilton Spectator to be very biased but all media sources tend to be biased. And wasn’t it the Spec that gave enough pressure to save the two buildings beside the Lister Block and also get rid of the glass wall?
Yes, there are numerous articles about it and complaints from councillors saying the Spec isn’t being fair. Thanks have to be given out to the Spec for applying pressure to get a much better rendering of the Lister Block.
I would personally love to see the Lister fully restored, but I also have to give the block a reality check, the same way for St Deny's fate. Both Lister and St Deny's are so rotted out that developers are just going to hope for it to collapse to run up and buy the property once it's gone.
If the City needs Class A office space, then why the hell not spend an extra few bucks to create a win-win situation of finding a Class A office space and redeveloping a section of downtown Hamilton with the Lister Block.
The downtown has been on a good turnaround in the last few years and I hope it continues on indefinitely. To deny LIUNA’s plan to redevelop one of the largest downtown eyesores is going to damage our downtown and set us back from what we have achieved so far.
We could go on and on and on about all the great developments happening in our beautiful core but our biggest block is still going to be a giant reminder of we failed to keep the momentum going.
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