Photo by Jeff Tessier from Civic Pride Made Real, H Mag.
150 Main St. is where the 57 year old Federal Building stands… well is kind of standing. It is partially being dismembered. The whole ordeal has been a contentious and difficult process. There have been petitions to save Elizabeth Holbrook’s 1954 stone works that adorn the front facade of the building, as well as, petitions to designate the building as a historical landmark. Owner and developer Darko Vranich purchased the building in 2004 with the intention to develop the property into condos. However, 7 years later no action or movement to initiate this development was taken. After much drama between the city, Vranich and the Government of Canada, it was decided that only a partial demolition would be able to occur, as when Vranich purchased the building one condition was to keep intact the original facade and features of the building and that the building could not be razed to the ground. Phewf!
“Please be reminded that the Government of Canada sold the property with a covenant that runs with the land in perpetuity which, in addition to protecting certain designated features and facades, requires that you and subsequent purchasers not ‘raze to the ground or otherwise demolish the entire building.’”
It is still very sad and frustrating to see half the building being ripped down, not to mention that the owner was able to leave the building untouched for such a long time only letting it fall into further decay. I feel like this is a trend in Hamilton; buy an old building that has the potential to rejuvenate and transform the city when properly cared for, make hollow promises that you will develop it but then do nothing, let the building sit vacant for many years, ultimately resulting in its demolition. This has been a similar case for many historical downtown Hamilton buildings like The Century Theatre, which was demolished in 2010, and The Royal Connaught, which has been sitting vacant since 2004. It is truly such a horrible shame or even a disgrace as Sean Burak writes in Raise the Hammer.
For further reading pleasure about the state of many of Hamilton’s buildings, read the recently published article in The Globe and Mail titled Vacant Buildings Overwhelm Hamilton’s Streets.