Pier 8 redevelopment on the Hamilton waterfront may be getting all the attention following the announcement of the Waterfront Shores team as lead proponents for that multi-million-dollar multi-use project, but construction stakeholders attending the Hamilton-Halton Construction Association’s (HHCA) recent Construction Forecast Seminar were told to keep their eyes on an adjacent piece of land for other significant work opportunities.
Phase one of significant upgrades to Piers 5 to 7 begins this year and will continue into next with a half-dozen tender opportunities, Philbert Kim, senior consultant for the West Harbour Disposition Strategy with the City of Hamilton, told HHCA members during a presentation at their Jan. 24 gathering.
Once the initial Piers 5 to 7 improvements are completed, Kim said, it’s hoped there will be enough public use generated that the private sector will follow with complementary commercial developments.
“Right now we are working on public access space,” Kim explained in an interview. “The city has already made a commitment to go forward and build out a public plaza, the walkways, the boardwalk, the fish habitat, so people can start enjoying the space right away.”
Other Piers 5 to 7 phase one projects that will go out to tender this year or next will be shoreline reconstruction; construction of a public pavilion, permanent facilities and tensile structures; building a gas-dock and marina; utilities and landscaping; and installation of a public art feature.
Piers 6 and 7 along with Pier 8 were the subject of a plan of subdivision and rezoning in 2016 — the city itself was the applicant but had to go through the same permitting process any other developer would, said Kim — with the city obtaining new Waterfront Commercial zoning for 6 and 7.
Shabby marine activities are being discontinued, and an old police marine unit at Piers 6 and 7 has been relocated. The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club and the Leander Boat Club continue to operate.
“It disallows certain types of activity such as repairing boats,” Kim explained of the new zoning. “The whole notion is to transition that area away from industrial activities and more towards commercial. It will eventually be for office, retail, maybe a hotel would be permitted, but the question is the viability. It is not the city’s intention to be the builder and operator of those facilities, it would be looking to the private sector, so it would be up to the private sector to decide if market conditions exist for that to be viable.”
This year has been identified as a period for city staff to further develop the Piers 5 to 7 development strategy, Kim said. He told HHCA members preliminary thinking was commercial buildings of up to four storeys could dot what will be a continuous promenade in the area.
“Staff will be working on that strategy for 2019 and will make recommendations to council and council will decide,” said Kim.
In total, with contributions expected to be confirmed in this year’s city budget, the city has committed to spending $100 million on waterfront improvements since 2012, Kim said.
“I guarantee you at ground level things are really changing,” he said. “A lot of groundwork has been done over a long number of years but physically this year things will start to change.
“Go down now for a visit before things really start to change.”
The City of Hamilton owns all the land along the water’s edge from Bayfront Park to Pier 8.
“The vision for the West Harbour waterfront was that this will be a people place,” said Kim. “We want to see people down there 24/7, 365 days a year.”