Ambition and momentum ramp up with the launch of Phase Two
By Chris Sanislo
The revived heartbeat of downtown Hamilton just got even stronger. The recent launch of phase two of The Residences of Royal Connaught is both a symbolic and actual sign of progress in our city. This phase consists of an additional 76 units being made available to go along with the 122 long sold-out units of phase one. And wow, is this place ever gorgeous.
The real story here is the fanfare and demand. Seeing the activity surrounding the building, it’s almost hard to believe this historic gem was shuttered for more than a decade. Returning The Royal Connaught to its rightful standing as a renowned attraction is making a dramatic impact on the visual appeal of the neighbourhood and the appeal of living in downtown Hamilton. And after barely two weeks on the market, the phase two units are 55% sold out.
“The support and the feedback has been overwhelming,” says Valeri. “I’ve seen the city lose some heritage buildings to neglect. Preserving the historic character of the city has quickly become a top priority for the community and city.”
Take a stroll a couple blocks west and you see a different story. Old architecture that predates the city itself has been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair that, apparently, a demolition permit is the only solution. To be fair, these buildings are significantly older than The Royal Connaught. But, to the average Hamiltonian or prospective resident, wouldn’t that make it more precious? While it’s difficult to see what hides behind the walls of another building, Spallacci and Valeri see the strength of preservation.
“It’s always sad to lose a historic building”, states Spallacci, “but ultimately we trust that the city is working hard to make the best possible decisions for the health of Hamilton. We saw an amazing opportunity with The Royal Connaught and are fortunate to have the resources and knowledge to restore and retrofit such a massive project.”
And make no mistake – this was a daunting restoration project. The structure was sound, but the historic interior required an incredible effort to be brought back to life.
While being guided through the site by Project Manager, Rudi Spallacci Jr., the discussion often shifted to the allure of Hamilton’s architectural gems and the desire to see them shine into the future. “The old buildings and architecture we have here are a unique part our city’s identity that people treasure – they are an important part of the Hamilton experience.”
Valeri added that he hopes this will spur other developers to take an adaptive reuse approach to downtown buildings. “We’re excited to be leading a project setting a high standard for this transformation – one that preserves Hamilton’s historic character while also keep the building relevant and occupied.”
Walking through the lobby, listening to the developers talk about the project, hearing the chatter on the street – this is all more than Hamilton’s scorching hot housing market at work. Setting aside history, aesthetics and on-site amenities, The Residences of Royal Connaught boasts walkability to just about everything. Situated in close proximity to arts and culture hotbeds, an array of fantastic restaurants, entertainment venues and public transportation, this is a location that nails the checklist of most prospective urban buyers. But there’s the intangible element of living within a historical landmark. When given the chance, people want to be a part of that. And let’s face it, history cannot be manufactured – so the investment opportunity is a lucrative proposition.
“The Royal Connaught is bridging two worlds: Hamilton’s glamorous past and the city’s progressive, contemporary culture,” says Spallacci. “Buyers are getting more than just a great home; they’re getting a piece of history.”
Hopefully this rubs off on fellow developers. And if it doesn’t, as a city, we need to step up our vigilance to protect our connection to the past. Hamilton boasts some beautiful, historic buildings that we’ve been lucky enough to inherit. Issuing demolition permits marks a significant failure in our stewardship. As The Royal Connaught is continuing to prove, when our history is showcased well, the buyers will be waiting.