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McMaster Innovation Park acquires Hamilton Spectator building

Dena Fehir
McMaster Innovation Park acquires Hamilton Spectator building
MCCALLUMSATHER — The McMaster Innovation Park has added the headquarters of the Hamilton Spectator to its expanding campus for innovation-focused start-ups.

Hamilton’s iconic newspaper headquarters for the Hamilton Spectator is set to be re-classified as part of McMaster Innovation Parks’ (MIP) expanding campus.

The daily broadsheet’s home since 1976 — 44 Frid St. — will be converted into a state-of-the-art hub for emerging life sciences companies.

“MIP helps growing innovation-focused companies with everything they need to get to the next level. Our plans are consistent with MIP’s aspiration to create the best research park in the world,” said Ty Shattuck, MIP’s CEO.

The innovation and research facility, located approximately two kilometres from McMaster University, is Canada’s premier research park. It offers a collaborative space for start-ups, entrepreneurs, researchers, and industry partners to connect and bring ideas to life. The facility helps companies grow by finding them customers, resources and capital.

The acquisition of The Spectator building , as well as development of additional assets within MIP’s 58-acre innovation park — located at 175 Longwood Rd. S., — will ultimately dominate most of the real estate between Frid Street, Highway 403 and Aberdeen Avenue in the city’s west end.

At full build-out, the facility will encompass 2.5 million square feet of purpose-built facilities dedicated to innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship, complete with labs and office space for emerging life sciences companies.

“Two point five million square feet is four times larger than the 95-storey Shard tower in London, twice the size of the Chrysler Building in New York City, bigger than Toronto’s Scotia Plaza and on par with First Canadian Place,” said Shattuck, adding, “MIP is filling the equivalent of a bank tower with proven innovators and entrepreneurs and offering them the best environment, support and eco-system to advance and grow their businesses. The park will even be carbon neutral thanks to energy expertise resident at MIP.”

Project costs are undetermined at this time, but MIP has confirmed that Meridian Credit Union is their investment/financial partner for the acquisition and they will be doing an additional capital raise for the renovation of the building.

Within this plan, MIP is establishing a ‘Life Sciences Innovation Megahub,” and at full build-out, an estimated 5,000 people will call MIP their work home.

“Today, entrepreneurs, leading global companies and investors in the life sciences see the GTA-Buffalo nexus as a global-calibre life sciences hub and MIP is at the epicentre. The larger context for MIP’s Life Sciences Megahub is the convergence of this capital markets focus, and the concentration of leading life sciences research in the MIP region. This region has established itself as a prolific global leader in life sciences innovation. MIP plays an important and growing part in that success,” Shattuck said.

A builder/architect/designer will be selected after an RFP is put out through Bids and Tenders, with renovations to get underway in 2021.

Although none are yet confirmed, discussions are currently underway with several potential tenants.

In early February, Torstar Corporation announced an agreement to sell the land and building at 44 Frid St. for $25.5 million but didn’t reveal who the purchaser was.

A leaseback agreement will allow Spectator employees to work out of the building until a new, still to be announced, location is found.

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Paolo Rogato Image Paolo Rogato

What will happen now that the Hamilton LRT has been scrapped?

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