As the City of Hamilton staff has grown since amalgamation, so too has the need to find office accommodations for them. Over the past decade the city has become one of the major commercial tenants in downtown Hamilton leasing over 180,000 square feet of space spread over several downtown locations. That’s more than the equivalent of another City Hall which measures out at 167,000 square feet.
A staff report says now is the time to consider a longer term solution, because most of the downtown private sector leases will expire in the next three years creating an opportunity to consider building a second office tower on City Hall property as was discussed in 2005 when the renovations to the current city hall were underway.
The staff report says; “as part of the review, staff will be examining a number of options for meeting the City’s office space needs, including:
acquisition of an existing building; construction of new space on existing City land or acquired land; leasing of space; and, entering into private/public joint venture(s) for new or existing space. “
Staff recommend engaging an architect to develop a Master Office Accommodation Plan to come up with recommendations that will also take into account possible opportunities created by developments like the West Harbour, LRT and possible new transit building.
Not mentioned in the report is the potential impact the options might have on the downtown commercial real estate market, which continues to struggle with over capacity, despite the resurgence of the downtown condo and restaurant scene. If the city were to select the option of building its own office tower, there would be an immediate glut of commercial vacancies that could take some time to recover.