May 8, 2019 12:12 pm

Gore Park hotel project cancelled as developers, City of Hamilton butt heads over design

A view of Gore Park from King Street East in Hamilton.

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What could have been a transformative project on the south side of Gore Park is now apparently dead.

Plans for a trendy boutique hotel at 62 and 64 King St. E. will not go forward, according to Patrick Bermingham of Bermingham Foundation Solutions.

Bermingham purchased the vacant building with plans for a hotel, restaurant and event space but has now listed the property for sale after butting heads with the City of Hamilton.

Bill Curran of Thier + Curran Architects was added by Bermingham to the Beverley Hotel Hamilton project and blames “red tape” for its cancellation.

“People who have ambitions for a transformative project expect those plans to come together in a timely manner,” Curran told Global News Radio 900 CHML’s Bill Kelly Show. “Hamilton seems to be the poster child for what the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) is calling ‘the broken site plan process.'”

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According to Curran, “glacial bureaucracy” is costing Ontario big bucks.

READ MORE: Redevelopment of Hamilton’s core continues with another Gore Park project

“The OAA estimates that delays in site plan approvals are costing the province $900 million per year, and that’s on the conservative side.”

On top of delays, Curran says the long list of design recommendations became a headache.

“Planners do not receive any architectural or esthetic training. They are policy people who move paper around, and everyone with a Pinterest board has an esthetic opinion,” added an admittedly frustrated Curran. “While they may have the best of intentions, planners should not be sticking their nose into the aesthetics of the community.”

Curran says they received 21 urban design comments from the city and were told the design was “too bold” because of plans for a fifth-floor balcony over Gore Park.

READ MORE: Hamilton councillors say idea of Gore Park Heritage District needs further study

Jason Thorne, general manager of planning and economic development for the City of Hamilton, says the city wasn’t willing to bend on the projection.

“The nearly five-metre projection coming out of the building towards Gore Park, especially given how close that projection would be to the Cenotaph, was not an element that staff supported,” Thorne said in an email to Global News Radio 900 CHML. “It’s unfortunate that Curran sees the request to not include the projection into the public realm as part of the building as ‘red tape.'”

The Beverley Hotel project at 62-64 King St. E., designed by Thier + Curran Architects Inc.

Artist's concept , Thier + Curran Architects Inc.

Thorne added that Gore Park is one of the city’s most important civic spaces.

“It belongs to the entire city, and staff wants to ensure that new development immediately adjacent to Gore Park respects that space and contributes positively to that space,” he said.

“The proposed building included a number of bold, modern architectural moves, and staff supported that direction.”

The Beverley Hotel Hamilton project already had a prospective food and beverage tenant. The Other Bird, which runs The Mule and Odds Bar in Hamilton, as well as the Arlington Hotel in Paris, was interested in being a part of the project.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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