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Hamilton steps outside the box: AGGRESSIVE PARKING RATIO

Jan. 14. 2015
Edward LaRusic

A proposed 30-storey development in downtown Hamilton is being hailed by city hall for its progressive parking ratio. But the proposed ratio of about one parking space for every two units is drawing concern from the local neighbourhood association.

Developer Stanton Renaissance has applied for a zoning by-law amendment to permit the adaptive reuse of a heritage property at 98 James Street (James Street Baptist Church). The proposal is for a 30-storey mixed-use development, better known as The Connolly. The first two floors would be used for commercial retail, with a multi-level 122-space parking stacker system below and 259 residential units above.

Stanton president Louis Santaguida told NRU that The Connolly will have a dramatic impact on the redevelopment of Hamilton’s downtown core. He said condominium living without a car is going to be the future norm in places like Hamilton.

“The Connolly is basically about 100 feet away from the Hunter GO Station and about 10 feet away from Hamilton public transit. Our studies and our developments and all the knowhow that we have is that
we are catering to a different demographic that wants to live and work within a city centre, that is actually using public transit and eliminating vehicular stress on their lifestyle.”

The parking ratio is being justified on a number of grounds. In addition to the proximity to public transit, all unit owners within the building would be provided with subsidized transit passes for two years, three car share spaces would be available within walking distance and bicycle storage would be provided.

Santaguida noted that the parking stacker system—which he said was common in Europe, but rare in North America— is a solution to the tight constraints of the 0.13 ha. site, in part due to the former James Street Baptist Church on the site.

Durand Neighbourhood Association director Yonatan Rozenszajn told NRU that the association has concerns with the amount of parking that is being proposed. He said that the traffic consultant for Stanton Renaissance, Paradigm Transportation Solutions Ltd., hasn’t made the case that this aggressive parking ratio proposed won’t lead to future problems.

“[Paradigm] used an aerial survey to [show] that there’s quite a bit of parking available, and that a lot of the parking is being used during business hours as you would expect. What’s problematic is that it didn’t actually obtain utilization data from the private lots [nearby]. So [Paradigm] can’t actually say what the availability is overnight or during the day, [it doesn’t] have that data. It’s simply an observation it made from a satellite [photo]. And it seems to be contradicted by the data the city has for its own [parking] lots, which shows that they’re effectively at capacity.”

Rozenszajn said that given the lack of parking currently available, adding a large development with reduced parking will cause problems: increasing the demand—and potentially the costs—of parking in the area. He said that this is still Hamilton, and even if an unit owner in The Connolly doesn’t drive to work, he or she will likely want a parking space for a car they can use on weekends.

Rozenszajn said the association isn’t asking for a one-to-one parking ratio and would be fi ne with the minimum the by-law requires, which for The Connolly would be 193 spaces, not 122.

Santaguida said that the neighbourhood association doesn’t have access to the sales data his company does. That data shows that having a parking spot just isn’t as desirable as the Durand Neighbourhood Association believes it to be and the neighbourhood can support a development such as The Connolly.

The proposal is supported by both staff and local Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr. Yesterday it was unanimously endorsed by the planning committee and will be considered by council at its meeting January 21.

“Staff considers the development to represent a significant opportunity to consider innovative and sustainable measures in which to accommodate increased residential and employment uses within the downtown,” said Hamilton project manager Edward John at the public meeting.

Farr praised the proposal, noting that the building will be reusing a cultural heritage resource and encouraging people to take transit is a trend in other urban growth centres in the GTA. Farr said that this proposal will clearly market to a different kind of buyer.