Condos and cars it’s all about selling lifestyle.

I test drive a lot of cars and you feel different when you drive a Jaguar and different again when you drive a Juke. A Jaguar, a big Benz or a Porsche makes you feel special and pampered and maybe a bit obnoxious. Drive a Juke or a Chevy Trax and it’s about errands and everyday obligations.

I also check out condos, particularly ones that seem to promise a carefree, uncluttered, free range lifestyle.

These two objects of desire had an interesting convergence when I pulled a $73,000 Porsche Cayenne onto a scruffy piece of land on Barton Street West. The Cayenne was on loan for a week’s test drive. It’s a fast, fulsome SUV that will cavort over craters but hang on to a tight turn on a racetrack. When Porsche brought the full-figured four-wheeler into Canada, they showed off its handling prowess by rocketing it around Mosport. For extra aw-shucks they had it towing a 911 on a trailer.  The jury of journalist confirmed it has more capacity for handling than most mortals will ever experience. So if you have the dough, or you want to complete your Porsche collection, the Cayenne makes a nice bookend.

On Barton West I posed the Cayenne next to a one-story brick building. It was the sales presentation centre for a condo project in Burlington. A mural on the building showed a handsome residential development with various, BMW’s, and Mercedes shining in their parking spots. The Porsche fit right in.

What’s happening there, with the brick building at 290 Barton West near Crooks Street is a bit of a mystery, but will crystallize in June when the sales presentation centre should open for a new small scale condo development called West Village overlooking Hamilton Harbour.

“The view is the same as the one from Dundurn Castle,” Don Husak is saying from his office at Dawn Victoria Homes in Burlington. Husak’s company bought the long vacant piece of land early this year, and the condo project is making the rounds at the planning department at Hamilton City Hall.

His vision is for three, three story buildings with a total of 34 condos. The units will range in size form 600 to 1,400 square feet and be priced from $200,00 to $400,000.

Though Husak lives in Burlington, and many of his projects have been built there, he’s a fan of Hamilton.  He shops at the Mustard Seed once in a while, walks the trails around the bay, and kept a boat at the Harbour Commission for many years.

“I want the buildings to reflect the industrial heritage of the area,” he says. Two buildings will be brick, and one building stone, “like the stone building near the Corktown,” he says. That would be the handsome stone building known as The Cooperage, circa 1880 and once home to the architectural offices of Trevor Garwood-Jones. Rooftop terraces will showcase views of the bay.

“If it’s three stories, I’m ok with it,” says Stella Lehto, a resident of nearby Ray Street North.  Development in the area is a touchy subject and has been since the stadium fiasco. It was on, it was off, homes were bought by the city, people moved away, houses were boarded up, it all went pear shaped.

We’ve all seen the condo development signs around the downtown. Projects that promise much but have delivered zilch. This little one on Barton West seems to be on solid footing. “Everything appears to be on track,” Husak says of the planning process.

Edward John, project manager in the city’s planning department says the proposed development is in keeping with the Medium Density Residential designation of the West Harbour Secondary Plan and that the site plan is being prepared for circulation and review.

So if it stays “on track,” Husak says it should take about a year and a half to build. For an overview of  Dawn Victoria projects it’s worth looking at Their projects on Plains Road in Burlington are similar in scale.

Kathy Renwald

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

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