Comment 78647

By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2012 at 19:37:55

An old friend of mine owns a very well-established business in Leslieville. I asked him about the references to the neighbourhood in the article and he responded at length...twice. Here are his thoughts (He's a Hamiltonian-who's-moved-on, so please appreciate the fact that he felt compelled to contribute; even after they leave, they still care.):

"Having worked in this neighbourhood for almost 20 years now I've seen "Leslieville" gentrify drastically
over the years. The big factor that seemed to catalyse a lot of the change was the rezoning and/or razing of the factories in the area. The Colgate factory was razed, all the garment/textile buildings became work lofts, and the Wrigley factory became a huge condo development. Virtually all the factories disappeared and this totally changed the face of the neighbourhood. Just on Boston where the houses had factories right at their front door now look out over very well designed townhouses and condo's with much of the historic character still in tact. And of course the semi's that used to sell for 180k 15 years ago are now fetching close to 800k. Once that money started moving into the hood then along came all the trimmings. However, it's still a very mixed neighbourhood. Right in the heart of Leslieville there is a medical centre that has a methadone clinic so at any given time of the day there are a number of junkies still hanging around the streets. But that's city life. It's the developers that drive the change. In a city like Toronto where a 500 sq ft condo can fetch 300k then they will look at every possible option for this kind of development. Most impressive is the distillery district. Incredible transformation. But it's all driven by big money. Downtown Hamilton is so ripe for this kind of transformation but until the big money and private interests get involved I don't think it can make the leap. Something really big has to happen. Two way streets and bike lanes are a start and the article makes some great points in that regard. But until the big money developers have grabbed every inch they can get and soaked every penny they could get out of T.O. they won't look at options in Hamilton. But I do think it will happen at some point."

"I wish I could offer more insight but from where I stand all the big changes seem to happen when a bunch of suits (MIB) show up with boat loads of money to buy up a large swath of property, spend boatloads more gentrifying, then walk away with boatloads after selling it all for insane prices in a real estate market that won't quit. In Leslieville it didn't seem community driven. It was a "build it and they will come" scenario. And really, what else was left in Downtown. The vendors came afterward. One by one starting with... you guessed it, Starbucks. But even Starbucks is now overwhelmed with an incredible amount of competition from the local roasters and brewers. It was amazing to see this neighbourhood transform from a time when after work going out to my car I never knew if my wheels would still be on the vehicle (the theft was crazy) to a a neighbourhood where I can drink coffee from a private roaster, have a workout in a spin only boutique, eat the best sushi in town, get my bread fresh baked, eat french cuisine and go to a Mac store for my tech needs (Carbon). "

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