Another One Bites The Dust: Hamilton's Lister Block


Hamilton, Ontario should be a great city; it has geography (a great location close to the border, a great big harbour that is now quite beautiful) topography (a nice "mountain" that keeps it from being boring) a major university and great transportation connections. It should be one of those creative places that Richard Florida goes on about.

Instead it is a legacy of bad planning, stupid governance and absolutely no sense of history, topped off by City Council's decision to back out of a deal to save the Lister Block by renting space in it. Not only that, they want to send back the $ 7 million that the Province of Ontario kicked in to save the building.

City Council says that it does not make economic sense to pay the rent required to pay for the renovation; that's because rents are cheap in Hamilton, they usually are in dumps. If City Council wants to have a Hamilton where the downtown is vibrant and where people want to live and work, they have to put a little money into it.

But then the building is owned by the Labourers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) and the unions get what they want in Hamilton, always have. If they say it is more costly to renovate than to build new, then of course it is true, even though the Hamilton Region Branch of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario has a report from an outside consultant showing that the building is salvageable at a reasonable cost, and that the advisory panel made up non-partisan experts and reporting to the Ontario Government came to a similar conclusion.

But then, we are talking about Hamilton. ::Spectator

Pictures from Isaac-CC, who describes the Lister Block:

The Lister Block was erected by the Joseph Lister Estate at the corner of King William and James Streets in Hamilton. The original 1886 building burnt down in a violent fire in 1923, and the present building was designed by Bernard H. Prack and was erected during 1923-1924.

When the building was occupied, the four upper floors housed offices, while the fifth floor was occupied by professional tenants, such as physicians, dentists, chiropractors, and beauty specialists. The sixth floor was occupied by offices.During the 1970's , with the completion of the new city hall the focus of civic and cultural activity began to shift from the Lister Block, causing financial difficulties for its tenants. By the early part of the 1990s, eviction notices were issued to all the tenants of the Lister Building. Since then it has remained abandoned, in a constant state of deterioration.

Read also Ryan McGreal in Raise the Hammer on Case Studies in Dysfunctional Governance

Tags: Ban Demolition | Demolition By Neglect | Ontario