Comment 92408

By jason (registered) | Posted September 20, 2013 at 22:58:12

Some great news tonight for Hamilton, and this exact neighbourhood we have been writing about in this post:

It's interesting to hear the Coop talk about how difficult it was to find a suitable heritage building that could meet all the needs of a modern grocery store. Virtually all of us would probably agree that the 'modern' buildings on York from the 70's are pretty boring and ugly. Yet, the rendering above shows how a quick renovation can bring some life and great design to such a building. Now, imagine a larger renovation including adding 3 stories of residential space above the store? Would anyone say that a mixed-use, 4 storey building on a main street isn't suitable or dense enough?? Hamilton and Toronto were built on the backs of main streets with this exact design. Look at King Street in Hamilton or Queen in Toronto. A solid streetwall of 2-4 stories along their length. One of the things that allows such streets to be vibrant and full of shoppers is a stable residential neighbourhood immediately adjacent to the retail street. Look at Locke South in Hamilton. 1-3 stories along it's entire length, yet booming with people and vibrancy. King St in Westdale or downtown Dundas is another great example.

Narrow 4-storey mixed use buildings would be ideal for York Boulevard, and not require homes to be demolished in order to create huge parking lots needed for 10+ storey buildings:

York CAN become a vibrant retail street again, but not by demolishing the stable residential element that exists immediately adjacent to the strip. In fact, doing so will create a 'buffer' of parking lots between the stable neighbourhood and retail street and as we've seen downtown on King Street, people aren't as keen on walking past long parking lots to get to a 'main street'. Residents just off Locke, Ottawa or Queen in TO routinely walk around the corner to the various shops and services. This should be our aim for York. One of the main keys to making it happen is to calm the actual street itself. York should look like this:

or this:

with bike lanes protected by parking like this:


This is the true test of how serious we are about creating vibrancy along York - changing the lane configuration, adding trees and protected bike lanes. This is one of the few major streets in the downtown area with a wide design, allowing for plenty of room to create a balanced, interesting street.

Demolishing century homes for 10 storey buildings is NOT the answer to York, just as it is not the answer for Locke, Queen East in the Beaches or King St in Westdale. York faces a golden opportunity to be revitalized, in large part due to the strong, stable residential community living there right on the doorstep of this street. We'd be crazy to damage that strong neighbourhood fabric in the hopes that it will somehow help the street.

Comment edited by jason on 2013-09-20 23:00:20

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