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Jumpstart your business in Downtown Hamilton

Jumpstart your business in Downtown Hamilton

Jumpstart your business in Downtown Hamilton
July 12
09:28 2019

There are so many elements that are firing on all cylinders in Hamilton’s downtown, including growth in the arts and technology sectors, residential and office development that brings density to support restaurants and retail, creation of hotel rooms, and accelerating investment that is transforming critical streets.

Much of that has been driven by the City of Hamilton’s array of incentive programs and an open-for-business philosophy that permeates municipal operations, says Judy Lam, manager of urban renewal in Hamilton Economic Development.

“There really are so many good news stories to tell and many more that are coming.”

Skyrocketing prices and lack of availability in the GTA are pushing developers further afield.

Doug Murray, a vice president and sales representative at Colliers International, says just five years ago “we couldn’t persuade any investors or developers from Toronto to even consider Hamilton. Now they are calling us trying to help them locate development sites. We don’t have to sell Hamilton anymore.The word is already out.”

While residential development has been booming downtown, what is yet to arrive in significant numbers is employment and office tenancy, says Murray. But that will change.

“Downtown Hamilton has all the key ingredients for an attractive location for office tenants but there needs to be one large office deal to kick it off. My guess is it will be a bank or insurance company that enlists a developer to build them 100,000 to 250,000 square feet of office space for their employees. Once that large deal gets done, it will prove out the business case to the development industry and then you will see large speculative office projects being built, which is the missing puzzle piece to a truly vibrant and sustainable downtown.”

Film production

Aeon Studio Group, a film and television studios developer, is creating the Hamilton Studio District near the city’s waterfront that will include modern sound stages, production offices and facilities, along with residential and retail development.

ASG said it plans to ultimately build about 500,000 square feet of production facilities in Hamilton, starting with about 150,000 square feet expected to be built and operational in a year on lands adjacent to the West Harbour GO station.

ASG and the City of Hamilton have signed a memorandum of understanding on 16 acres of City-owned land.

The developers say Hamilton provides proximity to diverse filming locations, a strong local workforce, a strong supply of industrial buildings that can be converted into a studio space, and access to provincial tax credits.

A new creative industry sector profile estimates Hamilton’s film industry already supports about 9,400 jobs, the third-largest film cluster in Canada.

Hamilton is home to many video production, animation and digital media companies, and Issued more than 800 film permits in 2018, an increase of 50 per cent over the year before. More than 700 unionized film workers live in Hamilton.


Malleum Partners has invested in 22 properties in Hamilton’s downtown over the past three and a half years, has about a dozen projects underway, and expects that pace to just continue.

“I really think it’s still early innings in Hamilton. There is a lot of room to grow,” says managing partner and co-founder Tyler Pearson. He and a business partner raise investment funds to buy mixed-use buildings in decline, invest in their rehabilitation and reap the rewards of increased income.

Malleum has raised $25 million in investment and controls about $60 million in assets.

“We and the City are finding ways to bring these buildings back. You can’t have a city of glass towers. These buildings are what makes the downtown special.”

Hamilton’s economic fundamentals – including relative affordability, population growth, a diverse economy and pending transit improvements – make it the most attractive investment opportunity Pearson can find.


Hamilton’s historic suit maker Coppley will move into a new purpose-built 75,000-square-foot facility that will combine its manufacturing, office and warehousing operations under one roof.

“What interested us is that they were inefficiently using some more historic assets,” said Bryan Dykstra, a partner in Blacks Point Development. “So we presented them with an opportunity to do a new build to become more efficient.”

Blacks Point will develop, build and own the building on McNab Street North.

“We are setting up Coppley to be sustainable for the future. That’s exciting.”

Coppley has been located in Hamilton’s downtown for 136 years and was committed to remaining there, says Dykstra.

The building celebrates and honours Coppley’s skilled designers, seamstresses and tailors, says architect Drew Hauser of Hamilton’s mcCallumSather Architects.

“We played with so many patterns and fabrics. The cladding is something of a chevron pattern that reminded us of pleats and folding. There are subtle nods to the idea of fabric and the look changes with the light.”

Dykstra says the clean-up of the former industrial property was made viable by a brownfield remediation grant from the City.

“This is a city that is prioritizing investment and is collaborative. It’s been an excellent experience so far.”

Hauser says his firm is thrilled to be part of this project, which keeps skilled crafts jobs in the downtown.

“They make beautiful classically modern suits and the company is so historic but also creating a forward-looking legacy.”


Hamilton Church Creblurb
Hue Developments has plans to integrate James Street Baptist Church with a new 30 storey condo tower and the local community has embraced the new condos which are deemed high-end luxury which is popular with young working professionals.

Connolly, a 31-storey residential tower bridged to a 140-year-old stone church façade, has a new developer behind it. After a previous developer went into receivership, Vietnam-based Hue Developments has stepped in to realize a new vision for the property.

“To tie a new structure into an old structure requires a lot of planning and expertise to make sure it’s done properly,” says Luke Wywrot, development manager with LCH Developments.

LCH is guiding Hue Development’s first project in Canada, which also includes partners in structural engineers Quinn Dressel and mcCallumSather. LCH has undertaken adaptive reuse projects before and has been active in real estate in Hamilton for years.

“We’ve had a very positive experience working with the City of Hamilton and the neighbourhoods we’ve worked in. We are always looking for other projects to take on in Hamilton,” said Wywrot.

Two-thirds of the church was unstable and had to be taken down, says Hauser. But what was saved will create “an elegant and refined building on a critical corner in the downtown.”

The hope is to begin work reinforcing the foundation and facade this summer and to commence construction of the 315-unit tower at year’s end.

The project will make a meaningful connection between the church and the new build, says Hauser.

It’s the first Canadian project for Vietnam Based Hue Developments. It’s an “energetic and dynamic” company, says Hauser, led by Allen Le Nam, who spent time living in Hamilton as a teenager.

“When he saw the property for sale, he was excited because it was a way for him to come back and give to the community. And for Hue Developments, it was a good fit for them. Their headquarters are in a historic city in Vietnam. They have a penchant for older buildings.”

Real Properties Limited Creblurb

If you are in need of affordable Class A office space, Real Properties Limited has everything from a new base building shell to beautifully finished office space at their 100 King Street West office tower located in downtown Hamilton.

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Lloyd Stevens has been writing Canadian business news for over 20 years with articles appearing in Perspective which appears in The Globe & Mail and contributing to and

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