Public organizations will get one more shot at operating Auchmar Estate.
City Councillors voted 12-3 in favour of Councillor Terry Whitehead’s motion to suspend the private sale process and current negotiations with potential buyers of the Auchmar Estate for six months to give residents one more shot at keeping the heritage building in public hands.
Terry Whitehead urged councillors Wednesday to put off any sale negotiations for six months to give a recently formed “roundtable” of concerned citizens and community groups a chance to discuss ways to maintain the dilapidated mansion.
City staff warned they were already negotiating with more than one serious would-be buyer, with inquiries from other “interested parties.”
But Whitehead argued that simultaneously negotiating with buyers while also studying public proposals — the previous council-approved plan — “just muddies the waters.”
Whitehead adds that the best ideas coming out of his brainstorming effort will be included in a staff report to council.
The Ward 8 Councillor argues that separate that public and private processes will benefit all parties involved, by making sure the process does not “muddy the water”.
The Friends of Auchmar suggest a range of possible uses for the sprawling property from community gardens and artist’s lofts to weddings, conferences and public tours.
TEMPLAR FLATS Developer Steve Kulakowsky of Core Urban Inc. told the meeting his firm will save $2 million by repurposing two old buildings on King William Street into a condominium development called The Templar Flats, seen here in an artistic rendering.
Preserving heritage buildings saves landfill space and can be cheaper than constructing brand new buildings, a public meeting was told Wednesday.
Developer Steve Kulakowsky, whose firm Core Urban Inc. has gained a good reputation for saving and retrofitting some of Hamilton’s old buildings, told the meeting his firm will save $2 million by repurposing two old buildings on King William Street into a condominium development called The Templar Flats.
This project involves renovating the former Reardon’s Meat Market and Deli at King William Street and Hughson Street North and constructing a new building that links it to a heritage building to the west of the once popular eatery.
While Kulakowsky said the $5.5-million project is not without its challenges, he said tearing the two buildings down and constructing an entirely new building has been estimated at $7.7 million.
“Those are real world numbers,” Kulakowsky told a joint meeting of The Friends of Auchmar and Environment Hamilton at The Empire Times Building, the restored 125-year-old building (and a Core Urban project) across the street from The Templar Flats site.
“They are broad strokes, of course, but they are real world numbers,” he continued. “The argument is it doesn’t have to be more expensive. Absolutely more complicated, but not more expensive.”
Kulakowsky also said preserving the two buildings that will make up Templar Flats keeps 700,000 pounds of waste — stone and wood — from the landfill. He said that is enough to fill 115 waste bins.
“The impact on our landfill is tremendous,” Kulakowsky noted.
About 60 people attended the meeting, which was centred on the theme of ‘Preserving Our Heritage, Improving Our Environment.’ It also featured talks from Environment Hamilton members Ned Nolan and Sean Burak, architect Molly Merriman and an update on the restoration of a 160-year-old garden wall at the city-owned Auchmar estate (built by politician-businessman Isaac Buchanan 1853-1854). Part of the wall collapsed in 2011 and the restoration work should be completed by May of this year.
Nolan showed a picture of the downtown Hamilton skyline in 1948 highlighting entire blocks of buildings that were demolished. He called that an inconceivable amount of heritage. In the context of the environmentalist principle of stewardship and the First Nations principle of Seven Generations, he referred to David Blanchard’s 2014 proposition that maybe a Target could replace some of the pre-confederation buildings in Gore Park. Nolan said that’s like saying to our ancestors who stewarded those well crafted buildings for us: “Thanks anyway, but we’re going to put a Target there so that the seventh generation can buy cheap shoes made in overseas sweat shops with lax environmental laws.”
Burak said preserving heritage buildings allows people to live a greener lifestyle. He said various reports show that anywhere from 10 to 33 per cent of landfills contain demolition waste.
“We put a tremendous amount of effort into recycling bottles, cups and cans, but we don’t think twice about putting an entire building into the landfill,” he added.
Welcome to the latest chapter of the Auchmar saga. The details are different than in previous chapters, but the storyline is the same.
In 1999, the City of Hamilton acquired the historic home of Isaac Buchanan, built between 1852 and 1854. The estate has huge historical and heritage merit, but its value has been overshadowed by the challenges it poses. It was crumbling when the city acquired it from a developer who wanted to turn it into a subdivision at the corner of Fennell and West 5th.
Since then, taxpayers have pumped millions into Auchmar, just to keep it stable and safe. The status quo is not sustainable. A solution must be found that balances heritage value with today’s economic reality.
A surprise offer by a secret suitor to buy historic, crumbling Auchmar Estate has divided city councillors.
The city is preparing to issue a request for proposals to reuse and preserve the west Mountain heritage property, which costs taxpayers about $20,000 a year to maintain — on top of the $1.1 million spent on major rehabilitation over a decade.
But city manager Chris Murray surprised councillors Monday by asking for permission to study an “unsolicited” offer — outside the planned RFP process — from an unnamed, local nonprofit organization.