Slate Asset Management is bullish on the Hamilton market as it launches two major projects in the city – the two-tower Corktown condos and its 800-acre Steelport industrial development.
Corktown is Slate’s vision for a design-forward residential 27-storey tower and 14-storey mid-rise, with retail spaces at the ground level. It will have more than 700 condos on completion.
Steelport, on the historic harbourfront of Hamilton, was acquired from Stelco Inc. in 2022.
Slate has introduced the new name, along with a new identity and preliminary vision for the industrial lands and buildings. Its vision is to reshape the underutilized property into one of the largest, state-of-the-art intermodal industrial hubs in the country.
The redevelopment will bring new industry to Hamilton, create up to 23,000 jobs and inject up to $3.8 billion into Ontario’s economy over the next decade, according to an economic study conducted by EY.
Slate considers Hamilton a growth market
Brandon Donnelly, managing director of development for Slate, said the two projects are part of the company’s broader long-term commitment to Hamilton.
“We think of ourselves as city-builders, meaning we think beyond each of our individual projects and more about what we can give back to the communities we invest in,” Donnelly told RENX.
"With Corktown, not only are we bringing quality architecture and design to the region, but we are investing in jobs, economic development and the greater Toronto housing market. We think this commitment to the City of Hamilton is really the beginning of a renaissance and we’re excited for what’s to come.”
Slate is a Toronto-based global alternative investment platform targeting real estate assets. Its platform has a range of real estate and infrastructure investment strategies, including opportunistic, value-add, core-plus and debt investments.
Steven Dejonckheere, senior vice-president at Slate, said the company’s thesis for a while has been that Hamilton is primed to evolve and grow in a big way.
“I think that’s based on a number of things. Of course there’s the spillover from demand and affordability in the GTA,” he said. “But I think beyond that we’ve always seen Hamilton as the first major municipality outside the GTA that is kind of its own city. It has its own history, its own infrastructure, it’s less dependent on being a bedroom community of the GTA.
“I think along with that there’s all the underlying fundamentals of a growth story there from first-class universities that are bringing in high talent, to sophisticated medical systems, to a thriving arts and cultural system, to the affordability factor that’s bringing in a lot of young professionals. We felt that all of those elements sort of set up Hamilton to really grow when we’re looking out for the next decade or two."
A "revolution" in the steel industry, which has been Hamilton's calling card for decades, is opening up further opportunity.
"You fold into that all the changes happening to the steel industry and the fact that it is getting completely revolutionized over the next decade and really changed the image of the heavy industry that has been in Hamilton . . . we know that of course will continue to be part of Hamilton’s story but it’s going to evolve and change and open up room for a lot of new, exciting manufacturing and logistics industries and jobs that come along with that," Dejonckheere said.
"That’s a complete picture of good momentum that we believe is going to be long-lasting in Hamilton and we believe makes it a good investment for all of our projects.”
Corktown a two-tower development
Corktown is a full city block development in the downtown. The first phase will be the 27-storey Corktown East tower.
Corktown West will be a 14-storey mid-rise building - an L-shaped building fronting on John Street. The first tower will include 372 condo suites and the second phase, which is yet to launch, will likely be about the same unit count.
Donnelly said the mix of units includes about 60 per cent one-bedroom and one-bedroom-plus-den and the remaining 40 per cent are larger suites including two and three bedrooms. The first phase launched in May.
“We’ve seen really great response to the offering, so we’re close to 60 per cent sold in that first phase," he said. "We plan to start construction on that tower next year and then we’ll also launch sales in the future for the second phase."
The first phase has a target completion of 2028 with the mid-rise completing later in 2028 or 2029.
The development is two blocks south of the Hamilton GO station and transit hub.
“That’s really something that we look for in all our development projects, especially our residential projects,” he said. “We’re focused entirely on infill projects. We look for existing urban centres where we can build on top of existing infrastructure like transit.
"We like transit. We like walkable communities, urban amenities. Those are the types of things we look for when selecting sites.”
Steelport to become major multi-modal hub
Dejonckheere said Steelport will be a state-of-the-art intermodal and industrial hub second to none in Canada.
“It has north of 3.4 kilometres of actual water frontage. Half of that is deep-water dock wall," Dejonckheere said. "From our knowledge, it’s the longest deepwater port on the Canadian Great Lakes. So really this is going to be a world-class manufacturing and logistics hub."
Stelco will continue to operate a cold-roll steel mill on 75 acres near the centre of the site.
“That will open up a little more than 700 acres of new development surrounding that and we foresee it being a wide range of industrial and manufacturing uses," Dejonckheere said..
"We’re anticipating somewhere between 11 and 12 million square feet of new industrial uses, everything from your large-scale big-box logistics uses down to new-age technologies and manufacturing, energy production, logistics that are associated with the port and the rail connectivity.”
He said the development will be interwoven with retail offerings and areas for use by residents and visitors.
“It really is the majority of the Hamilton waterfront," Dejonckheere said. "So, interwoven through all the development we’re planning is a pretty extensive public realm network that will help bring people out to the waterfront and also currently is envisioning proposing retention of some of the steel manufacturing structures and potentially repurposing them into public amenities as well."
Steelport will be a 10-plus-year project. Officials anticipate it will house everything from one-million-square-foot distribution centres to smaller unique spaces.
“We’ve designed the plan to centre the larger structures and locate those at the centre of the plan and urbanize the edges of the site some more," Dejonckheere said. "What I mean by that along the waterfront for instance, which is pretty unique, we anticipate more flex office, small-bay industrial, perhaps opportunities to work with institutions for some sort of innovation, or knowledge or bio-tech based campus setups.
"We’ve also seen interest from creative industries and the film industry."
Donnelly said Slate believes Steelport is the largest private investment in Hamilton, with a total investment of more than $3 billion when all the buildings and infrastructure are built.
The site is so large Donnelly said Steelport comprises three times the total area of downtown Hamilton.