i thought we had a thread on this building, but couldn't locate it.
i liked this affordable housing project, although many feel there would be a negative impact on king and gore park.
but the market can't support the conversion to a market value condo yet.
would have been a great way to bring life back to the building.
we've seen what waiting can do to these buildings.. especially in the hammer.
Connaught project funding denied
MPP 'hopeful' for next round
December 24, 2009
THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
(Dec 24, 2009)
A proposal to turn the Royal Connaught into mixed-income housing has been shut out of the latest round of government funding.
The city was hoping to receive $12.9 million from a federal-provincial housing program to redevelop the vacant hotel into apartments, including 100 affordable housing units. The project had already been turned down for funding in the first year of the two-year stimulus program.
Now, the city has learned the Connaught, along with five other applications for affordable housing projects, was denied again.
"We're obviously disappointed," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger.
Council voted in September to name the Connaught project as its top choice of six local projects seeking funding from the stimulus program. If approved, the six projects would have brought 313 affordable units to the city.
Tony Battaglia, spokesperson for the group that owns the Connaught, was unaware of the news when contacted yesterday.
"I just don't know what it means, so I'm really not in a position to say anything," he said. "But it's very unfortunate, especially if there's no money being allocated to Hamilton."
There's still another chance to get funding. The city can resubmit applications to the province in February to see whether they'll receive a slice of the final round of stimulus cash. The six housing projects approved in September, including the Connaught, will have to be reapproved by council and resubmitted to the province.
Brent Whitty, Manager of Rental Housing for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said council will also have to reconfirm whether the Connaught project is still their top priority.
"It's definitely not the end of the game ... but they will need to commit that they are still interested and update their information."
Whitty said the Hamilton projects were not rejected, but projects in other cities that were at risk if funding wasn't approved now were given higher priority.
Sixteen projects with 1,200 units across Ontario received funding this round and will get $141 million in federal-provincial cash in April.
Sophia Aggelonitis, MPP for Hamilton Mountain, said she's "hopeful" about the city's chances of getting funding in the next round because its proposals are "fantastic projects."
The Spectator was unable to reach area cabinet minister and Ancaster-Flamborough-Dundas-Westdale MPP Ted McMeekin.
The Connaught project caused an uproar this summer among people wary of seeing the landmark used for affordable housing.
Dave Kuruc, owner of Mixed Media art shop on James Street North, said affordable housing "wasn't the right fit for the building."
"If you can develop that property and do it properly, I think you could easily shift the fortunes of King Street East and Gore Park."
Downtown Councillor Bob Bratina said with the success of the Pan Am Games bid and public opposition to the proposal, he hopes the Connaught will be reborn as a hotel.
"I don't think it's bad news for the downtown," he said about being shut out of funding. "Most people agree that they would prefer to see the Connaught revert to a hotel."
Though Eisenberger said he thinks it would be "spectacular" if the Connaught became a hotel again, he argues the Pan Am Games aren't enough to keep a downtown hotel afloat.
"That need is a two-week need, not a long-term need. There needs to be a greater critical mass happening to sustain it."