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Development News

Hamilton creates artist studios, housing in core

The City of Hamilton's decided it needs a place to house all its relocated Toronto artists, so starting this week, they’ll be moving into some of the most affordable downtown lofts in the GTA and Golden Horseshoe.

Construction was completed on 95 King--previously a strip club called Bannister’s--in November, and the first tenants started moving in Feb. 1.

The 150-year-old building with a 1923 façade has been many things over the years. Architect Bill Curran, whose firm Thier and Curran designed the project, says it likely started out as a dry good warehouse, evolved into a well-known 1960s night club called Diamond Jim’s, and had been Bannister’s for a couple of decades until it shut down two years ago, since which time the building’s been vacant.

"Because it was a dilapidated strip joint, we had to remove a lot of…," Curran paused, until he landed on the mot juste, "… unsympathetic materials and peel back the building to its core. We discovered a lot of problems, things that were concealed behind layers and layers of ceilings and walls."

The idea was to create a building that would be of interest to artists--tenants for both the loft and the studios on the ground floor and basement must supply some proof of being artists--while offering monthly rents low enough to suit their budgets. The result is 12 lofts between 550 and 750 square feet, all with en suite laundry and high-grade finishes, for $800-$1,000 a month.

The rent is subsidized by the developer, the City of Hamilton, who figured they’d kill two birds with one stone by renovating a blighted downtown building while inviting the sorts of people Richard Florida and others think can give urban centres a kickstart.

Their and Curran, specialists in residential architecture, is also the firm behind an affordable housing project just beginning construction now in Richmond Hill.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Bill Curran
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