City Chooses $ 500 Million Plan For Downtown Hamilton Entertainment Facilities

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Winning proposal for multi-million dollar renovation of downtown Hamilton entertainment facilities proposes massive changes to FirstOntario Center, FirstOntario Concert Hall and Hamilton Convention Center, as well as a series of tall buildings height.The bidder, Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) – which includes Carmen’s Group, LiUNA, dpai architects, Fengate Capital, Meridian Credit Union, Paletta International and Jetport Inc. – proposed a $ 500 million site.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger made the much-awaited announcement at the city council meeting on Friday, saying the group had come out “on top”.

“I think it will be a great opportunity for transformational upgrades to our facilities,” he said, calling the investment “historic”.

More details will come when the framework agreement is finalized, which the city says will be in late 2020. The press release says renovations to the arena will begin in the fall of 2021.

PJ Mercanti, group president and CEO of the Carmen group, said that if this process is successful, they look forward to providing Hamilton with the “next generation of entertainment and cultural assets”.

“We are delighted that the board and staff have trusted our group and we are looking forward to making Hamilton proud,” he said. “We recognize that this is a great opportunity to redevelop the city’s main cultural and entertainment assets. And so we are impatient to work. ”

Here are some of the plans suggested so far.

The planned renovations to the FirstOntario Center include a new building exterior, a “transformation” of the lower bowl, an enlarged hall level and a new curtain system for the balcony of the upper bowl. The group offers a microbrewery, suites and hospitality clubs.

They are also considering developing the side of York Boulevard to make the building accessible at street level so that people can take advantage of services – such as food or retail – outside of the time the center hosts an event.

HUPEG initially suggested retaining FirstOntario’s hosting capacity and relocating the convention center to part of downtown Hamilton.

Three downtown skyscrapers would include the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the convention center, condos and commercial space. Two other tours are possible at the corner of Bay Street and King Street East.

The press release says more than $ 16 million in upgrades are planned for the convention center, concert hall and art gallery.

Approximately $ 340.5 million in “mixed-use ancillary development, including affordable housing” will be part of any resulting residential development.

Arena renovations “are slow to come”

The group will assume all capital costs to renew the facilities, as well as the operation and maintenance of the FirstOntario center and the FirstOntario concert hall for 99 years. They would also take over the convention center “indefinitely” without any monetary contribution from the city.

The city said it would create $ 155 million in savings over the next 30 years.

Coun. Sam Merulla (ward 4), who pushed the city out of the entertainment business, said the downtown “rebirth” was a good time to go out. He also reiterated that there would be “hundreds of millions of dollars in savings”.

“This is a problem of which I am very, very proud,” said Merulla. “It was not easy, I had a lot of resistance. But I guess anything worth fighting for is worth going through this type of initiative. ”

Jasper Kujavsky, who is with the winning proposal, says he has always believed that the arena could be revitalized before Merulla’s 2017 motion that prompted staff to explore private sector-led redevelopment opportunities.

Kujavsky remembers entering the Copps Coliseum 30 years ago for the first time. The changes, he said, took “a long time to come.”

“I am interested in all aspects of this project, but I have a special place in my heart for the renovations of the arena. And it is the one that I have perhaps the most direct supervision and it is the one that is the most immediate priority from the perspective of the city, “he said.

The other option being considered was a $ 200 million plan from Vrancor Group, a prolific Hamilton development company owned by Darko Vranich. Among its modifications, the project proposed to limit the capacity of the arena to approximately 15,400 seats, with the possibility of increasing to 17,000 if necessary.

“The numbers have shown that the constituency group is the best proposal, the best bid and that is the direction in which we are moving forward,” said Eisenberger, adding that he believed the announcement would get a positive reaction from Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer.

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