City approves Connolly tower—with
parking for only half the units
13 January 2015
An artist rendering
shows plans for The Connolly, a proposed 30-storey
condo tower on at 98 James St. S. (Stanton Renaissance)
Is Hamilton ready for a condo project where fewer than half of the
residents have parking spots?
The builders behind the proposed 30-storey condo tower at the former
James Baptist Church are banking on yes.
The Connolly project was approved for a maximum of 259 condo units, two
floors of commercial space and an underground 122-space lot that uses a
car stacker. The city's planning committee unanimously approved a
zoning change to allow it on Tuesday. But whether that's enough parking
was a key point of debate.
"What we have here is a different change in mindset," said Luis
Correia, director of development and planning with Stanton Renaissance
after the decision. But he feels like Hamilton is ready for it.
Transportation planner Stewart Elkman, working for Stanton Renaissance,
told the committee that 98 James St. S has a walkability score of 98
per cent, and is close enough to transit and amenities that people
won't need a car.
Can you live downtown without a car? Condo buyers say no
Not everyone was so sure. Yonntan Rozenszajn, a director with the
Durand Neighbourhood Association, said the project is "a good in-fill
opportunity. It’s a good way to intensify downtown."
But Hamilton is still car dependent, he said, and you can't compare it
to Toronto or Manhattan.
"It’s contrary to the current experience we have with other
developments downtown, namely New Horizon and City Square," he said.
"We can reduce it somehow and that’s fine," he said. "But I believe 50
per cent is a little too ambitious. We cannot simply ignore the
economic reality that people will bring their cars and they’ll want to
park them downtown."
"Frankly, we don’t have experience in Hamilton with such a dramatic
reduction in parking."
The Connolly uses part of James Street Baptist Church, a former
historic church. Stanton Renaissance demolished two-thirds of the
church last year to some controversy, saying it was structurally
What happens next with the towering James Baptist condo project
Parking crunch? Tivoli hopes to stack cars
The church facade remains on James South, with the back portion
There isn't much available parking on the streets around the
development — with permits or otherwise, Coun. Jason Farr said. And
nearby parking lots have "waiting lists galore."
"There really are no options anywhere around," Farr said. "The whole
circumference, the whole diameter within 400 to 500 metres, there are
no other options. That about sums it up."
City planner Edward John said Connolly residents may only use their
cars on weekends, so they won't mind parking 500 metres away.
Council will vote to ratify the decision next Wednesday. Tuesday’s
decision approves a special exception to the area's zoning to allow the
Stanton Renaissance hopes to launch its public sales in the next two
months, Correia said. It hopes to sell 75 per cent of its condos before
it starts construction. Pending the city's approval of the site plan,
the company hopes to have shovels in the ground in the fall.
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