It’s taken years of extensive community engagement and collaboration with the City of Hamilton, but Waterfront Shores Corporation has finally received approval for its development plans for Block 16 in the Pier 8 community.
“I want to commend the council and I want to commend the staff for being able to work collaboratively to make this happen,” Tercot founder and principal Joe Valela told RENX.
“There's still work to be done, but this is a major step that will get us over the hump in getting this building built.”
The Waterfront Shores partnership came together when the city launched an international design competition asking for proposals to transform the former industrial shipping pier into a mixed-use site.
It won the bid in June 2018, giving it the exclusive right to negotiate contracts with the city to purchase and develop the Pier 8 lands.
Waterfront Shores is a partner with the city, which owns the land and is responsible for the site’s infrastructure. The city is also a financial partner in the Pier 8 project, which encompasses nine developable blocks.
Plans for Block 16
Block 16 will be occupied by a 45-storey, 364-unit condominium on a nearly one-acre Lake Ontario waterfront site at 65 Guise St. that was previously zoned for industrial use.
The 43-storey Landmark Place at 100 Main St., which was built in 1974, is currently Hamilton’s tallest building. Many locals would have preferred it keep that title.
The downtown secondary plan, which was approved in 2018, stated no new building could be taller than the Niagara Escarpment in order to keep lake views intact. That essentially capped heights at 30 storeys.
“Getting the approval for the tower is the most protracted approval process that we've ever gone through,” Valela noted. "We went through the design review committee process twice, which is unheard of."
The tower on Block 16 will be the signature building on the 12.95-acre Pier 8 site that will include up to 1,645 residential units, 140,000 square feet of commercial and institutional space, more than 1,400 parking spots and 5.1 acres of publicly accessible open space upon completion in approximately 15 years.
The cylindrical and lily-shaped Block 16 building was designed by Bruce Kuwabara, a founding partner of KPMB Architects, and Valela believes it will become a Hamilton icon.
“I think this is going to be a building that will be discussed worldwide and be a global building,” said Valela. “It'll be something that will be taught at universities as part of architecture classes.”
Waterfront Shores has entered a lease agreement to incorporate a sales office in the Hamilton Waterfront Trust Centre and Valela anticipates launching sales for the condo tower early in 2024.
Other aspects of Block 16 and Pier 8
The Block 16 approval also allows for an additional 150 family-sized units at Pier 8.
“A lot of the local community ratepayers that are living there were really concerned that the area was getting older,” Valela said. “They were losing families, the schools were closing down and they wanted to see more families moving into the nine blocks.”
The approval also includes public art opportunities and new public spaces, including a lookout terrace that will provide views of the water, escarpment and Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway.
Valela is confident the terrace will attract tourists to the area and give local businesses a needed boost.
Five per cent of the units across the nine blocks will be designated for affordable housing and Habitat For Humanity will be involved with providing those residences.
Waterfront Shores will also work with the city to fulfill the updated direction on net-zero carbon building design standards.
There will be an eight-storey height limit for the other residential buildings at Pier 8.
By being allowed to go up to 45 storeys with the waterfront tower, Valela said buildings closer to Guise Street can be lower to blend in better with the nearby, older existing houses.
The Waterfront Shores partners
Toronto-based Tercot is a real estate investment and development company that specializes in the strategic acquisition, planning and development of residential land and creating large-scale master-planned communities.
Cityzen is a Toronto-based residential developer with a portfolio of low-, mid- and high-rise buildings in and around the Greater Toronto Area.
Toronto-headquartered Greybrook is a private equity firm that invests in and manages large-scale real estate development projects. Its portfolio includes single-family homes, condos, retail properties, and purpose-built and value-add rental apartments.