Downtown Bureau

Downtown Update (at Last!)

Jason is a marked man. He was threatened with bodily harm if he did not publish a new downtown update soon.

By Jason Leach
Published November 27, 2007

Well, the absence of a consistent Downtown Update has been noticed. This thread on the venerable Skyscraper Page forum has a wealth of news on recent developments around the city. It's really gratifying to see that people really enjoy knowing what's going on in their city.

Well, it's been a while but we're back with another downtown update. There certainly hasn't been a shortage of action in the city lately, just an excess of action on my personal schedule. Without further ado:

James North

A few more buildings are being renovated along this great strip. No word yet on what is to come at street level, but high quality apartments and lofts are being put into the upper floors. Exactly what we need downtown.

History and Heritage. If you haven't been to this new gallery/history museum yet, get off your duff and check it out. Simply amazing. It's right across from Mixed Media. Check out the cool tin ceiling, like so many of the wonderful old buildings downtown.

Harry Stinson on James North? Yup. He was at Acclamation Bar and Grill last week giving his two cents (assuming he can afford that) on the state of affairs in Hamilton. He's also teasing us about possibly developing somewhere downtown. Stay tuned.

A new hot pot restaurant has opened a couple of doors down from the Rouge River Chinese restaurant. A nice reno job, and steamy windows would lead me to believe that the pots are indeed hot.

Picca-deli is now open on James, just north of the Gore. Great fruit stand with salads, sandwiches and a wonderful little market selling pasta and other herbs and spices. This really is a great addition to King and James.

Baily's has opened on James North. I'm not even sure what it is, but it's definitely a cool looking eatery/lounge of some sort. It's next door to Dunas Verde Café.

King East

Christmas is one of the best times of the year downtown. Friday, December 7th is the official Tree of Hope lighting ceremony in Gore Park. This event has become a family tradition of ours. Kids love the merry-go-round and the mini-train. Walk through the park and check out the lights and manger scene. Someday we hope to see regular events in Gore Park, but in the meantime, enjoy the little we do have. Snag a hot chocolate from PAM's or Infusions and enjoy the heart of the city as the park is lit up.

The Terraces on King are under construction and appear to have reached the halfway point. This building seems to fit in well with the neighbourhood already.

Three16 Lounge continues to do brisk business and is fast becoming a hot spot for young couples and professionals in the core.

A new café will be opening soon a few doors down from Three16. No details yet, but the reno looks snazzy.

Another streetfront commercial space is available for rent in a newly renovated building across from Three16. Exposed brick and great street presence.

Arts Hamilton is all set up in their new home here in the Village. Rumours are floating around of another big catch for this hood, but I've been told to keep quiet, or else!

Back a few blocks east, a plethora of new shops/stores has opened in the Emerald/Tisdale/Victoria area. Some of them don't appear to be too legit, but others do. If anyone has checked out this candy/coffee/ice cream place at West Avenue let us know what it's like.

Ja-Nice BBQ has opened on Tisdale just north of King. Jamaican BBQ Chicken? Now you're talking my language.

Back downtown, construction continues on the new apartment building at King and John. The final floor is being put up as we speak. Let's hope for a nice café with patio on the ground floor.

Renos continue at the Victoria Hall/MacKay buildings at the Gore. Two of my favourite buildings in the city. Glad to see them restored instead of demo'd like too many others lately.

Royal Connaught Hotel – nothing to report so far. We'll keep you posted as updates materialize (if updates materialize).

Treble Hall – the city is attempting to purchase it and redevelop it. Here's hoping they can. It's a great building in a prominent location.

This is actually King West: Two projects leaked to the public a little early are a proposed concert hall at King and Hess. Possibly the House of Blues according to local rumours. Also, the city is waiting to hear from the police association to see if they are interested in office space being built as part of a mixed use project at King William and Walnut. This project will incorporate condos, parking and street retail.

John South

Hot Spot Shawarma appears close to opening. It's got quite a funky interior for a shawarma place. Can't wait to check it out.

London Tap House – construction continues at a fever pitch at this place. This might be the next 'big thing' downtown once it opens.

97 years of history is gone. HMP has been completely demolished now. RTH has obtained a large rendering of the new Hilton Hotel planned for that site. The sooner, the better. The corner looks ridiculous right now.

More demolition – This time on James South. no hilton hotel here. A wonderful 1800's building was demolished by St Joes hospital in order to accommodate their 'portable' currently sitting at James and St Joes Drive. Sheesh.


Some dude from TO just bought the Bad Dog Café building on Locke South. No word yet as to what this means for the coolest café in the Hammer.

Speaking of cafes, Green Monkey Clothing and Sportswear and Twice Lucky (the used clothing store) have moved into their permanent digs on Locke South. Green Monkey is now open, a really cool looking store that appears to be geared to a younger crowd.

Also, rumour has Starbucks taking up the old Robert David location with a graphic design studio moving in upstairs.

A lot of work continues up by the General Hospital. Two new buildings are being built north of the hospital and the historic building on Barton near Ferguson is currently being restored for use as a Ronald McDonald style home.

You Don't Know, Jack

I heard a commercial on Jack FM 92.5 last week. They were advertising the upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert at Copps and how you could win tickets.

Here was their final line: "the good part is, you get to see the Boss live. The great part is, you get to leave Hamilton after the show."

Nice, eh?

Jackson Square

I've heard many complaints over the years about the lack of good sports stores downtown. Well, a new one has opened in Jackson Square: Core Sports Hamiton. Stop by and check it out. It's a few doors down from Coles Books.

Some rather large renovations are now taking place inside of Jackson Square. Nobody seems to know what is happening, but we'll let you know once we find out. Personally, I think mall management should chase down the Sears store, which might be leaving the Centre Mall location soon. First things first, though. How about getting a website for the mall?

A Taste of Vietnam looks ready to open in Jackson Square at the Farmers Market entrance. I can't wait to be able to grab some pho while doing groceries.


The infamous Transit Service Enhancements Implementation Plan the Public Works Department is presenting to the 2008 transit budget COW has not a single word word about LRT. It's all buses and articulated hybrids [PDF].

This is insane. I'm actually kind of stunned. Here I am complaining because these guys are suggesting to spend $159 million on transit - but it's a one-time shot. If we screw it up, we're stuck forever with nifty, noisy buses and not much else.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By markwhittle (registered) - website | Posted November 28, 2007 at 12:39:01

I must say young Jason knows downtown better than most local Politicians including Scott Duval in my hometown ward seven. Speaking of which seeing down-town "spruced up" leaves me wondering what about other worthy projects in Ancaster or Flamborough for that matter. I have a friend and client with a very weorthy project on two lots across from the Flamborough Casino. There's a seventy foot building there he would like to transform into a mini-putting course thats fully wheelchair accessible for the disabled kids too! There would be lots of busses driving by all day long reading the entrance sign. A mathamatical win - win for the city of Hamilton Jason.

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By Ilia (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2007 at 12:49:16

As a somewhat anonymous reader and downtown resident I really enjoy these updates.

Any news regarding the work that's being done at Main & Spring st? I think the location was a car dealership at one point. I've seen a lot of work there over the last few weeks.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 28, 2007 at 13:24:49

yup...forgot about Main and Spring. A new hotel is being built there. Not sure when it opens though.

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By mark (registered) | Posted November 28, 2007 at 14:47:34

Days Inn going in at Main and Spring, I believe they are targeting Mar 2008 for completion.

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By Cal DiFalco (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2007 at 14:20:18

I have always believed that restoring the core is critical in any effort to revitalize our city. i am glad to see progress is being made.

In terms of the comment from JACK FM- it was uncalled for and perhaps we should send them an email. I guess they have forgotten that they have a lot of listeners out here


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By WAM (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2007 at 14:34:48

Wow Mark Alan Whittle you just can't pass up an opportunity, however feeble to take a pot shot at your councilor, who if I'm not mistaken got sixteen times as many votes as you. Let it go. The next election is in a few years.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 29, 2007 at 15:14:45

Responding to Jack FM would be easy...all their paranoid listeners in Peel or Markham can easily avoid the trip to Hamilton - just go see the Boss in Mississuga. After all, they have a real downtown with real stadiums and concert halls right? Or was it a mall??

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2007 at 15:39:58

Great to see this post back on the site, I really look forward to it.

I think that the downtown is really turning around, albeit slowly, one building at a time.

As for the Jack-FM remark, I will no longer be listening to that station and I encourgae others to do the same.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 29, 2007 at 17:30:29

yes, one building at a time is exactly right. Let's hope it continues...more and more people are starting to notice.

on the flip side, we've seen quite a few demolitions lately....another one started today at the old Balmoral Tavern site on King East.

Lord knows we need more parking lots in this city.

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By Rick Cordeiro (anonymous) | Posted November 30, 2007 at 03:02:00

Another reason why we need more radio stations here in Hamilton. Jack-FM? When it comes to Hamilton, Jack-FM don't know Jack.

Rick Cordeiro

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By Cal DiFalco (registered) - website | Posted November 30, 2007 at 15:31:01

I could not resist sending this email to Jeff Brown of Jack FM:


Apparently, in speaking about the Bruce Springsteen concert scheduled in Hamilton, Jack FM was heard to state on air "the best thing about going to see Springsteen, is at the end, you get to leave Hamilton", or words to that effect.

I am not sure what your station hoped to achieve by unduly belittling a neighbouring city. The only thing you have achieved is to turn off a number of people who otherwise were listening to your station, to that point. I am not sure your advertisers would appreciate that type of market alienation and besides; it is just not a good business practice. I appreciate that your station prides itself on being somewhat “edgy”, but there is a difference between being edgy and being offensive.

I sincerely hope you will consider an on air apology to your neighbours in the City of Hamilton. I await your reply.

Cal DiFalco

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 30, 2007 at 16:24:58

...or they can just tell their listeners to stay home and spend a nice evening out at Walmart in "downtown" Mississuaga if they don't want to come here. lol.

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By Cal DiFalco (registered) - website | Posted November 30, 2007 at 22:49:58

Here is Jack FM's reply

Thanx for your note as I am sure you have heard in listening to the station and the promo it is all in good fun and not something to be taken seriously.


Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 30, 2007 at 23:33:30

to be honest, I really don't mind it. I mean I could spend hours making fun of the GTA...gotta be able to take the ribbing in return. Plus, I'm glad that folks in the GTA realize that Hamilton is a unique city. I'd rather be made fun of, than be made into blandville like much of the GTA.

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By Rick Cordeiro (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2007 at 00:32:15

Thanks Cal....

I don't like the response that Jack-FM gave you and I certainly do not take their response as a joke or "all in good fun" as they put it.

This is a station that I have now added to my "Do-not-listen-to" list.

Again, when it comes to Hamilton, Jack-FM don't know Jack.

Rick Cordeiro

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By Calgary John (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2007 at 17:31:12

Hamilton has as long as I can remember, been the butt of many jokes. It's really sad but I agree with the comment that at least Hamilton has the reputation of a unique city and not just another gta amalgam.

As for listening to Jack FM, I don't listen because of their crappy programming!

Speaking as a former resident born and raised, the longer I'm away, the more I want to return.
Goulash at the Black Forest Inn, Hess Village in the summer, The Around the Bay road race...
I say if the rest of Ontario doesn't get it, it's clearly their loss

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By Cal DiFalco (registered) - website | Posted December 01, 2007 at 22:51:02

U guess even bad publicity at least outs us out there. But still, I don't like the overall gist of it.

I wrote back and asked Jeff if he would consider granting Hamilton a few 30 second radio spots on Jack, to advertise our city's attractions. (I write jingles part time for radio- the last one i did was Mayor Eisenberger's election jingle). Let's see what they say.

If i get a reply, I will post it.

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By Gump (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2007 at 23:43:05

Why are we Hamiltonians so insecure about our secret slice of paradise?
Regardless of what the ignorant think, we know we live in a geographic gem. I say better to let them think what they will, keeps it affordable......despite all the mismanaging.

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By mark (registered) | Posted December 04, 2007 at 16:45:54

Let's not get carried away with indignation towardsd the JACK FM promo. If memory serves, a local Hamilton radio station recently spent serious cash pasting billboards with the tagline "Toronto Sucks!". What goes around comes around. The rivalry between Hamilton and Toronto has a long history and is fuelled by both cities. Treat is as it should be treated and laugh it off.

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By Cal Difalco (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2007 at 14:15:47


I was not aware of that. Two wrongs still don't make a right, though.

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By ben (anonymous) | Posted December 11, 2007 at 07:40:23

The Jack FM comment was not nearly as bad as when local Y108 put billboards up all over the city saying 'Toronto Sucks' if you recall, that was phase 1 of their marketing campaign...phase 2... i don't even remember what it was - I only remember the 'Toronto sucks'. We should all lighten up!

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By (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2009 at 23:46:57

spam comment deleted by editor

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