McMaster Innovation Park execs pitch residential towers to city in hopes of avoiding ‘dead zone’

Photo from McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton, Ont. Google Maps

Executives with McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) are making a pitch to construct three residential towers on its research campus as part of its growth plan over the next decade.

A delegation suggested to city councillors at Wednesday’s general issues committee the structures would potentially bring life to what MIP’s vice-president of development characterizes as a “dead zone” after business hours.

“There’s no one here,” Frances Grabowski said.

“We can’t bring in the amenities that require the density for the evening for dinner, more than just for lunch. That’s that’s what we’re trying to do. The innovation park is very different and that’s what we’re trying to build here.”

The towers, which would house just over 500 residences, would be homes for researchers, scientists and others from the community and potentially draw talent to the city through a modern campus similar to a frontrunner like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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“We do science 24/7,” Grabowski said. “That requires amenity spaces 24/7, and that requires density and residential, in order for us to be successful.”

The towers, expected to be between 14 and 26 storeys on the West Hamilton campus grounds, would over look Highway 403 and also house restaurants, cafés and other amenities.

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Councillors are backing the vision by increasing the percentage of allowable residential uses on the sprawling employment lands, from 8 to 15 per cent of gross floor area.

However, a city staff report is recommending just a pair of structures on the north east side to separate them from other areas of the park considered “noisy.”

Both Grabowski and McCallumSather architect Drew Hauser urged councillors to give planners flexibility to avoid a scenario similar to what use to happen in Toronto’s financial district years ago when it would “shut down after dark” and be a closed entity.

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“We want the community to go to this type of industrial or employment lands,” Hauser said.

“It’s much different than other employment lands because we want to attract and retain the best in the world. We need to keep it exciting.”

Exactly how the vision would be laid out is still under discussion amongst city staff and MIP representatives, but Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger says it’s about creating “dynamic, innovative collision space for thoughts and ideas.”

“As the park evolves, and there are significant investments on the horizon, how do we adjust to continue to advance that very innovative corridor?” Eisenberger said.


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