Two years since its creation, the City of Hamilton’s Municipal Land Development Office is presiding over a significant portfolio of waterfront projects that will transform the district from unloved wasteland to a busy people place.

The division’s manager Chris Phillips outlined his team’s mandate and highlighted a handful of current waterfront projects during a presentation on day one of the Hamilton-Halton Construction Association’s virtual Construction Forecast.

The Jamesville Redevelopment, the Barton-Tiffany district plan, the multi-use build-up of the West Harbour’s Pier 8 and the revitalization of Piers 5, 6 and 7 are in various stages of development with considerable progress anticipated for the rest of 2022.

“There’s significant work going on,” said Phillips. “It’s not just all talk. There’s a lot of action happening and we are well on our way to realizing the broader vision for the West Harbour.”

The development office was formally launched in January 2020 to co-ordinate major redevelopment projects by leveraging city-owned assets while meeting city policy objectives. Key priorities include the city’s West Harbour redevelopment plan, creating the film studio district and expanding the city’s affordable housing supply.

The signature project is the 31-acre multi-use Pier 8. Phillips noted the development office is acting not only as landowner but also land developer.

“We’ve had tremendous activity going on here over the last two to three years,” said Phillips. “We took responsibility for all the planning approvals, for the subdivision application, for LPAT issues and settlements. We also did all the procuring and all of the construction of the civil works.”

The key underground works including site remediation, roads, sewers and a pumping station project have been completed, with the site now ready for the preferred development proponent, the consortium Waterfront Shores, to take the next steps of obtaining site plan approvals and getting down to construction.


Hamilton takes big strides on waterfront development

The consortium will eventually take ownership through a purchase from the city.

Plans for Pier 8’s nine development blocks include 1,600 residential units, 70,000 square feet of leasable commercial space, 27,000 square feet of proposed institutional space and over one-third of the property devoted to open space.

“Big picture, we’re probably talking about a market value of the site now between $750 million and a billion dollars,” said Phillips.

Also notable for Pier 8 is a proposed official plan amendment for Block 16 to permit a 45-storey tower that has been designed by renowned architect Bruce Kuwabara of KPMB Architects.

“Bruce is also a born and bred Hamiltonian and specifically grew up here in the north end,” said Phillips. “You’ll start to see his passion for this project over the next few weeks as the city moves through the application process and rolls it out to the community.”

The 5.4-acre Jamesville project involves the redevelopment of 92 townhouses owned by CityHousing Hamilton, the city’s social housing developer, into a larger mixed-income affordable housing community. Jamesville Redevelopment Limited Partnership was selected as the preferred development proponent with Marz Homes, Melrose, DeSantis, Fram + Stoker, Indwell and City Housing Hamilton as builders. The housing mix will include 287 units of stacked townhouses, a seven-storey affordable rental property with 46 units and another seven-storey affordable rental property with up to 120 units.

Demolition is expected to get underway this spring with site remediation, underground servicing and home construction to follow.

Not far away to the east, in the Barton-Tiffany neighbourhood, the city is working with Aeon Studios to cultivate a potential new Studio District. Aeon moved into an 80,000-square-foot studio and a 27,000-square-foot soundstage with a Queen Street North address last March and is forming plans to use city-owned and private lands to create an economic cluster with studios for the production of film, television, gaming animation and music.

The district would also feature artist live-work spaces, other residences, office space for creative industry companies, industry event spaces including a theatre, training spaces and a variety of retail uses including a grocery store and pharmacy.

Aeon is currently in the exploratory stage but Phillips said it has a willing partner in the city, which has eyed the community for redevelopment for some time.

Piers 5, 6 and 7 have undergone major revitalization already with the creation of a waterfront trail and next will come redevelopment of older public buildings and spaces into higher-grade destination-type uses. Zoning permits three- and four-storey commercial uses such as restaurants, cafes and recreational uses. A residential component could be incorporated into upper floors, Phillips said.

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