After several years of considering various proposals, Hamilton is on it way to seeing the creation of a re-vamped entertainment precinct, Describing the plan as a Hamilton version of Toronto’s distillery district, the consortium led by Carmen’s Group will renovate and take over the operation of FirstOntario Centre, the FirstOntario Concert Hall and of the Hamilton Convention Centre, for a period of 49 years with no monetary contribution from the City. A city news release says the deal will save the City an estimated $155 million over 30 years.
The Precinct Group proposes a minimum $50 million renovation of the FirstOntario Centre which includes a new exterior façade and video board, comprehensive transformation of the lower bowl, expanded concourse level, and a new flexible curtaining system for the upper bowl balcony.
The renovation also proposes to allow year-round access to street-level attractions on York Boulevard which will include a Sports Lounge, an e-Gaming zone, and additional food and beverage offerings in collaboration with local hospitality partners.
The Precinct Group’s plan includes over $12.5 million in capital upgrades, expansion and enhancements to the existing Hamilton Convention Centre and Concert Hall, as well as a one-time $2 million contribution to the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
The Precinct Group’s plan also includes over $500 million in auxiliary mixed-use development, including 5% affordable housing in one of the residential developments.
Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group L.P. (known as ‘Precinct Group’) is a regional consortium led by Carmen’s Group and the Mercanti Family and Associates, working in collaboration with venue operators, industry consultants and development partners, including LiUNA, Meridian Credit Union and Paletta Group.
The city will be turning over the York Street Parkade and an adjacent parking lot as well as the building that currently houses Community Development Hamilton on York Boulevard to the consortium.
The releasesays City’s contribution to this agreement is limited to City owned lands in the downtown core, and a new tax incentive program called the “Downtown Entertainment Precinct Advancement Program”. The details of that incentive will be released in detail at a July 6 Planning Committee meeting.
The Precinct Group is to take over the operations and maintenance of all three entertainment venues on April 1, 2022 with the City retaining ownership of the lands and facilities.
FirstOntario Centre construction will take place over two years and completed in two phases. Work is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2022. The Precinct Group says it will work with current tenants and operator to minimize any operational impacts of the renovations. The Precinct Group will work with international Arena Architect BBB and lead local architect DPAI. Plans for the arena include premium food and beverage amenities like a microbrewery, viewing cocktail lounges and enhanced hospitality suites, refreshed performer rooms coupled with improved technological investments to ensure top-tier artists and all visitors have a best in class experience,
Construction at the Hamilton Convention Centre and the FirstOntario Concert Hall will take place after the completion of the FirstOntario Centre renovations.