Investing, transforming and growing

By Michael Marini

Over the past several years, there has been an ever-increasing interest in Hamilton.  From the arts and culture scene, to the growing culinary community, to the stock of trendy office spaces, and of course to the major industrial spaces. Hamilton has become the talk of the province.

In 2009, Hamilton reached the key $1 billion mark in building permit values- a first in the history of the city.  Since then, Hamilton has averaged over $1 billion for the last six years.  There is something happening here.  But why are so many investing in Hamilton?  Why are so many starting a business here and leaving the GTA for something different?

“In many instances, the answer comes down to savings,” says Glen Norton, Director of Hamilton’s Economic Development Office.  “Simply, an investment in Hamilton saves money and saves time.”

Hamilton boasts a number of historic pre-World War II buildings in the downtown core. With a leasing rate of $10-25 net on average, investors from the GTA can save 30-50% of their monthly costs.  In addition, the city offers one of the richest suites of financial incentive programs in Canada. Many of these incentives can be found in the amalgamated communities and 13 Business Improvement Areas.

From an industrial standpoint, with easy access to transportation and hundreds of hectares of available land for development, it is no surprise that Hamilton is drawing in large scale developments.  Plus, the city is perfectly situated between the GTA and the US/Niagara border giving this area access to over 100,000,000 people.  In particular, the Red Hill Business Park has earned nearly $750 Million in new investments since 2009, and the Airport Employment Growth District has over 1,000 new acres of developable greenfield lands.

With so much happening across the community, Norton has his eye on up and coming areas.

“I really like the possibilities of Barton Street,” he says.  “The street is designed for ample pedestrian traffic, has an amazing stock of classic properties, the prices to purchase or rent are quite affordable, and it is surrounded by a very densely developed residential community.  Many commercial investors from the GTA are now starting to make the first investments in Barton, and I only see this continuing as more businesses move west from Toronto.”

In fact, Barton Street is just the latest street to see new beginnings in the lower city.  Just a mere ten years ago, James Street North was an “up and coming street” with a growing arts scene.  Now it is viewed by many as the epicenter of the Hamilton arts and culture scene, and is bursting with new residential and commercial activity and some fantastic restaurants and cafes.

This growth is not unique to the downtown core.  There are a multitude of new investments across the community from Stoney Creek to Waterdown- featuring unique small business investments that add to the flavor and character of each of these communities.

And to top it all off, Hamilton is also undertaking a multi-million redevelopment of its West Harbour/Waterfront area.

“The West Harbour area is one of my very favourite places in Hamilton, because for me its home,” says Norton.  “Not only is it a jewel of the lower city, and where I currently reside in a new adaptive reuse condo, but it will see hundreds of millions of dollars in new residential, commercial, and recreational investments over the next decade.  Truly exciting and an image builder for Hamilton.”