Demolition may start as soon as this fall on the vacant and boarded up Jamesville Social Housing complex.
With a homeless encampment growing just a block away, Jamesville has been a stain on the City of Hamilton for years.
The 91 city owned units once home to a diverse population are covered in plywood and graffiti. Revitalization of the property can’t come soon enough. But developers are asking for understanding.
“I asked for patience,” Anthony Di Santo pleaded to a Zoom meeting last night called Reimagine Jamesville.
“This is a complex public, private partnership.”
When it’s done the 5.4 acre site north of the CN tracks, and bordering James Street North and Strachan streets will contain 46 units of geared to income housing, 120 units of affordable housing and 287 stacked towns at market rate.
The forward movement on Jamesville has the momentum of sludge for those witnessing a crushing lack of affordable housing in Hamilton. Di Santo, development manager from Fram + Slokker, one of the partners in the redevelopment, outlined some of the reasons why.
Tonnes of soil to be trucked out
First on the list, an environmental cleanup looms large. The property is so contaminated from past industrial uses that 100,000 tonnes of soil laced with oil, metals, salt and other toxins, has to be removed. The entire site will be excavated to a depth of three metres. The complexity of the environmental cleanup has altered the underground parking capacity, now it will only be located under the market price townhouses.
Before the environmental cleanup the existing buildings need to be demolished. Di Santo predicted that demolition could start this fall.
Next up will be filing for approval of an Official Plan Amendment. Though Di Santo was pressed for an answer on when exactly construction could begin, he was reluctant to commit.
We do know as stated at the meeting that construction of the affordable units will be done first. Frank Giannone, president of the Fram Building Group said those units could be completed in two years.
Market rate stacked townhouses will be the last phase of construction. Those units will be on top of an underground parking garage. That garage has also contributed to the slow pace of progress after the discovery of a high water table at the site.
Up to 100 trees to be cut down
The Jamesville complex, built some 50 years ago, has been much maligned, but at the time it seemed to encompass some desirable features. Units had their own yards, and a central courtyard, was enhanced by the planting of many trees. Those trees, numbering about 100, mature and stately are nearly all being torn out due to the excavation of the site.
The Zoom meeting included North End residents, many supporting the concept, but concerned about the clearing of trees, the inevitable stream of trucks and construction vehicles entering and leaving the area, and increased stress on parking.
Some of these concerns will be addressed at a future public meeting. That will happen after all zoning approvals are secured. At that time, the designs of the multi storied buildings will be revealed.
The partnership to redevelop Jamesville includes affordable housing specialist Indwell, City Housing Hamilton, Marz Homes, Desantis Homes, Fram + Slokker, and Melrose Investments. The city sold the valuable piece of land in the West Harbour district in order to raise money for other affordable housing projects.
The Reimagine Jamesville website (reimaginejamesville.ca) has more detail and will have the Zoom meeting recording posted at a later date.
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