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.
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