The consortium building a residential community on Pier 8 on Hamilton’s West harbour say they have no interest in making the former Discovery Centre part of their development.
“We have no interest in the Discovery Centre, it should remain institutional,” Joe Valela representing Waterfront Shores consortium, said during the third Zoom meeting about building plans at the harbour.
In the process of picking the builder of Pier 8, home to 1,600 residential units and a commercial village, the city considered bundling the Discovery Centre in as part of the deal, to see if developers had better ways to use that parcel of land.
The potential demise of the Discovery Centre and potential conversion to non public use, ignited an outcry among some community members.
The Discovery Centre has a troublesome history. As a Parks Canada interactive museum of the Great Lakes it was a bust. Then came the tale of woe called Sarcoa, a restaurant with great unfulfilled potential. In battles with the city over noise infractions, Sarcoa owners spent more time in court than they did serving wine waterside.
After the restaurant closed, the much underused building languished on the waterfront. Like many shuttered buildings, the signs of neglect showed, as weeds took over what once was a spectacular patio overlooking the harbour.
At the Zoom meeting last night, the city’s waterfront boss, Chris Phillips echoed, Valela’s statement, that the Discovery Centre as a public building could be a hub for the community.
But what kind of hub? During public meetings to discuss the future use of the Discovery Centre ideas floated included a library branch, seniors centre and city museum.
One has to wonder, with the city facing a $60-million deficit due to Covid-19, where more money could be found to run a city owned facility.
This is the first time I’ve heard the developers of Pier 8 say they don’t want to own the Discovery Centre.
Valela’s company Tercot is in the real estate development business. Pier 8 is listed on their website as a community under development, and there is actually a place to register for further news. To my knowledge this is another first. Though there is a lot of interest from people who would like to live at Pier 8, to date there has been no where to register as a prospective buyer.
Last night was the third Zoom meeting about Pier 8. At the first one the bombshell emerged about the proposal for a 45 story residential tower at the waterfront. This news even took Mayor Fred Eisenberger by surprise.
That shows there is no substitute for a full up city wide meeting, and the fall out potential when small neighbourhood groups are privy to information that should be available to all.
As a way to conduct micro-meetings, Zoom has strong points. It allows citizens to ask direct, informed questions of city staff, politicians and in this case developers-i.e. people who should have the answers.
As this Zoom meeting wound up, Chris Phillips updated progress at Pier 8, saying that street paving should start soon, and the Promenade Park tender has been awarded with construction starting “relatively soon.”
Pier 8 architect Bruce Kuwabara also had much to say about the place high rise towers have in cities. That’s a topic for another column.
(Kathy Renwald is a North End resident and lives near Pier 8)