Brownfield Remediation Permit Application for 440 Victoria Ave N

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 13, 2012

Urbancore Developments Inc has applied for a brownfield remediation grant [PDF link] for the property at 440 Victoria Avenue North on behalf of property owner DCR Holdings for a proposed new building that will offer 22 industrial units for lease that range in size from 0.7 acres to 1.5 acres.

The roughly L-shaped 24.56 acre property currently houses a 530,000 square foot industrial building and is nestled among an industrial rail line, warehouses, a metal recycling facility and nearby residential houses. While the building has a long history manufacturing Otis elevators WWI and WWII munitions, Studebaker automobiles and warehousing. DCR Holdings has owned the building since 2005.

The application, made through Hamilton's Environmental Remediation And Site Enhancement (ERASE) program, requests a grant of up to $650,000 in eligible demolition costs to demolish most of the existing building. Only the three-storey office at the corner of Victoria Avenue and Ferrie Street would remain.

After the building has been demolished, an environmental assessment will determine the need for soil remediation after nearly a century of industrial uses. Potential contaminants include heavy metals, inorganics, petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and base neutral acids.

The premise behind the ERASE grant system is that the increased property tax revenue from a remediated site pays for the remediation grant. At this point, the applicant does not yet know how much the property value will increase once the remediation and new construction are completed. However, staff estimate that the increase in the property's assessed value, while currently unknown, will more than offset the requested demolition grant.

At present, DCR Holdings pays $241,427.17 annually (2012 figure) on an assessed property value of $6,453,000. The property owner is up to date in property tax payments.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted August 13, 2012 at 15:25:47

While still in the very early stages towards remediation and reuse, it's good to see the owner taking steps in that direction.

Particularly good to see they're paid up to date in their taxes, given what the spectator uncovered a few years ago about some prominent city landowners. The grant they're applying for is equivalent to three years of their current tax payments, but I don't mind giving that back to an enterprise that has paid so much for so many years.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted August 13, 2012 at 18:30:55

I live on Clark Ave, near spitting distance from the old Studebaker Plant. It would be a great thing to see this site redeveloped into a light industrial park, with some high tech businesses taking up residency. Having been able to poke around the place a bit, I don't think remediation would be huge. It was always used primarily as an assembly plant. They weren't smelting steel, or mixing chemicals. This is good news.

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By brendansimons (registered) | Posted August 14, 2012 at 01:09:46

I'm a bit sad the plan involves tearing down most of the building. even though it's boarded up, the brickwork along Victoria street looks fantastic - far better than most modern factory buildings or even office blocks.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted August 14, 2012 at 07:30:42

Yeah, it would be cool if they could save that wall, even if it's not part of the new building. You're right. It looks great.

But in the big picture, it's great that the older, inner industrial part of the city is getting a clean-up and investment!

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By Steve (registered) | Posted August 16, 2012 at 15:34:38

Is the devil wearing a parka? Someplace hot must have froze over.

I can't believe that RTHer's are actually onside with tearing down a big old beautiful building which is part of our industrial heritage for what will essentially be this type of building, or this type, grouped with others in a disposable industrial mall.

Any bets on a self storage facility being one operation?

I realize the location isn't ideal for a technology/new manufacturing revival a al Kitchener's Lang Tannery District, but with some creative thought and $650K worth of incentive money vs. demolition money I'm confident something good could have happened at Studebaker.

No worries the earth ends at Wellington Street and this is east of Wellington. Oh well...

Note, there is no timeline committment to build after demolition and the report clearly states the owner will apply to MPAC for a revised assessment on their then vacant land.

Any guesses on how long it remains mostly vacant? 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, longer?

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted August 18, 2012 at 00:24:16 in reply to Comment 79859

I don't get it. People complain that the city is not doing enough about brownfield redevelopment in the older industrial area, yet here we have an example of it (albeit uncertain what the eventual uses will be) and it's met with sarcasm?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted August 20, 2012 at 09:37:55 in reply to Comment 79915

What is this an example of? This isn't brownfield redevelopment, it's historic demolition in the name of brownfield demolition.

I've worked old factories re-purposed to offices and they are great. I've also worked in today's industrial malls and they are soul sucking.

If this was the demolition of this building, I wouldn't complain, nor be sarcastic, but it's not. It's the demolition of this building, and not only do they not build them like this anymore, they never will build them like this again, period.

I guess the Board of Ed/McMaster controversy was but the demolition of an outdated building to be replaced with a up-to-date building. Because that is the same as what people are championing here.

I'm also amazed that people can get so enthusiastic about a demolition with a promise of an industrial mall, with no backup details. I hope when the building is gone the industrial mall is built quickly and we don't end up just a fenced yard overgrown with weeds, or perhaps worse a parking lot for trailers.

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