Developers seeking to build a pair of mixed-use highrises in downtown Hamilton, Ont., will take their case to the province after their plan was rejected by some city councillors who say the build is too large.
A staff report, presented to the planning committee this week, recommended denial of an application targeting a 39-storey and 30-storey development on the northeast corner of Jackson Street East at Caroline Street South.
At issue is the “overdevelopment of the site” that staff consider “not good planning” amid their concerns over height, inadequate infrastructure capacity and adverse visual impacts that don’t conform with the Urban Hamilton Official Plan and Downtown Hamilton Secondary Plan.
If built according to proposed specs, two towers at the site would exceed the maximum height of the escarpment by 32.8 metres and three metres respectively, according to city planner Daniel Barnett.
“That’s one of the issues we were struggling with in terms of this application, is that they are exceeding the height of the escarpment,” Barnett explained.
In all, the development would create 741 new residential units in the core via 122- and 96-metre towers attached to a podium about three to four storeys in height, a commercial floor area, as well as 366 vehicle and 388 bicycle parking spaces.
Bousfields Inc. development planner David Falletta, speaking on behalf of the owners, characterized the proposed structure as “a great opportunity for intensification” in the downtown core.
He also pointed out the development would be directly south of the tallest tower in the core, the 43-storey Landmark Place at Main and Catharine.
Falletta contests a resubmission of the plan, which answered “a lot of” questions from a city staff commentary delivered in May, did not make the latest staff report and is the “part of the reason” for the appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT).
“The ownership group decided to appeal on that basis,” Falletta explained.
“It was quite clear that there was no more interest in engaging.”
Mountain Coun. John-Paul Danko said the appeal is “unfortunate” and says the project appears to represent everything the city is advocating for when it fights urban boundary expansion.
“Going from a parking lot to a 39-storey building … that’s development charges and that’s a huge amount of tax revenue that we desperately need as a municipality,” he said.
But downtown Coun. Cameron Kroetsch, who represents the area, believes there hasn’t been enough public consultation, noting he was one of only two people to participate in a virtual session held earlier this year.
Falletta insisted that “hand-delivered” flyers alerting residents of the public meeting were distributed to dwellings within 200 metres of the site and that they did engage locals in discussions.
Kroetsch suggested that “one person coming to a community meeting” meant efforts to reach out to people “didn’t work.”
The developers have offered to work with the city on a resolution, which is already an offering suggested in the OLT process.
They’ve also offered to work with staff on any additional public consultation, if necessary.
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