Lister Block

Lister: Reasons for Optimism

By Adrian Duyzer
Published June 27, 2008

Now that a deal for the Lister block has fallen through yet again, there's going to be lots of finger-pointing.

Some people are really angry with LIUNA, and I don't blame them.

This is not just LIUNA's fault, however. First of all, City Council was the other half of this, and so they bear responsibility too.

Secondly, speaking as an entrepreneur, from a business perspective the more I learn about the proposed deal the less inclined I am to think that it was a good one.

A good business deal should not be so tortuous. That it was does not mean that the people participating in trying to put it together were necessarily at fault - it may be simply that the deal was bad.

A good deal is one in which all participants clearly stand to benefit. There is always risk involved, but the benefits should clearly outweigh risk to the point that the risk is worth taking.

As much as I have also been irritated with LIUNA's behaviour, they are experienced businesspeople. If LIUNA's executives aren't comfortable with the the deal the way City Council was proposing it, perhaps it is for good reason. They do, after all, have fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders just like councilors have to taxpayers.

I think it's worth stepping back and taking a look at the bigger picture here: if office or commercial space were in short supply in downtown Hamilton and rental of space in downtown Hamilton was commanding a premium, the Lister would already be developed in private hands, and taxpayer assistance would not be necessary. That kind of demand would make it easy to put together a good deal for the building.

In the long term there are reasons for optimism, because Hamilton's future is bright.

Right now I think it is important that Hamilton implement demolition-by-neglect bylaws and enforce property standards, and that the province designate the Lister as a historical building. This would keep it in good condition until such time that market conditions make a good deal for the Lister something easy to put together.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz


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By Balance (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2008 at 14:41:03

The deal was dumb. Taxpayers dollars should not be going into this at all. Time to turn up the heat on the owner. There are plenty of financial incentives they don't need the additional bonus of a City tenancy. The whole thing makes me sick. LIUNA should be out in the private arena securing tenants and partners not holding a hand out to the City.

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By trey2 (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2008 at 13:26:32

There is enough vacant office space in the city. It should be condos with ground level retail, a Hard Rock Cafe or something that downtown could use.

It's time for LIUNA to get creative with Lister. And don't tear it down because whatever LIUNA builds in its place would pale in comparison to Lister, not that Lister is a spectacular building but the crap boxes built of late like the Bay Street Fed Bldg or the lame Staybridge Suites, or Cityview Terraces are crappy buildings.

Sorry but I don't trust our developers to build anything that would enhance our streetscape or improve our architectural stock, they haven't shown otherwise. The litmus test should be whether or not a new building would be cared for by the citizens in 80 years like Lister is - if a new building would even last that long.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted June 29, 2008 at 22:42:37

Trey2, if you believe that the buildings developers are putting up are of poor quality, why not put forward your vision.

In fact, why don't you sketch some rough plans and present your ideas on this board. Perhaps, others can add their insight, and this may lead to some good ideas.

The next step will be to raise money to put your ideas into action.

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2008 at 04:32:36

Coming Soon:

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By Jelly (anonymous) | Posted June 30, 2008 at 08:33:53

Coming Soon:

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By VC (anonymous) | Posted July 03, 2008 at 14:51:03

So Adrian, what do you think about the fact that Liuna ended up taking the deal after all?

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