Can we pull it off? The potential is significant and it will certainly change the city in a rather positive way

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

August 18, 2015


Part two of a two part feature on the development potential for the city

Way back in 1985 council approved the building of what was then referred to as a legacy building that would soar 22 storeys into the sky. One wonders if Niagara Falls could be seen from the top floor.

It took several decades to get the project to the point where all the regulatory hurdles were overcome. There still isn’t a shovel in the ground but there is a sales office and the look of the project is out there for all to see.

Bridgewater from lake on the east

Architectural rendering of the Bridgewater development that will consist of two condominiums, owe 22 storeys and the other seven storeys and an eight storey hotel. The view is from the lake looking west.

It will be a three structure development that will change the look and tone of the downtown core more than anything has since Joseph Brant had his house built on the edge of the lake.

Immediately to the west of the development there are plans to re-develop the Waterfront hotel and replace what is there now with a possible three structures.

The arrangement in place was to have the city come up with two plans and the developer come up with a plan of his own.

If the projected plan for the Waterfront hotel site is done properly Burlington will have a cluster of hotel locations all within a city block of each other sitting on the edge of the Lake with the pier as a place for people coming to conventions to stroll along. Spencer Smith Park will be laid out before people in the hotel; some of the early thinking had the new hotel that would be built opening to the west.

Opportunity Lakeshore and Elizabeth

The potential that two quality hotels in the downtown core is hard to fully grasp – but it is there. When? One of the sites was first approved in 1985. Different players may manage to get some wiggle into the process.

There is tremendous opportunity for everyone here; Burlington needs a downtown core that will attract people, give people a reason to come to the city and take in an event at the Performing Arts Centre and tour the world class ceramics collection.

The Bridgewater development – that is the two condominiums and the seven story hotel – is now in the hands of a quality developer. Jeff Paikin has done some fine work in the past and while this development is quite a bit larger than anything he has done in the past in Burlington – he has the executive capacity and the vision to make this happen. He also has a sincere desire to make his hometown a better place.

Waterfront hotel with pier at foot

Think in terms of the Waterfront Hotel being torn down and the site having three buildings using up some of the space to the rear of the hotel.

ADI rendering second view from SW

The ADI Group development for Lakeshore and |Martha now has a name. They are running advertising in local media and are in the process of turning a retail location on Brant Street into a sales office. They are very serious.

The problem development for many is the ADI Group plans for a 28 story tower at the intersection of Martha and Lakeshore Road which has been named the Nautica.  The development is now before the Ontario Municipal Board; Burlington hasn’t done all that well at OMB hearings and ADI have brought in a top notch Bay street law firm.

The fly in the ointment for project that are not at the OMB is the pace at which things happen in Burlington – everything just seems to take forever – and we get passed by.  The continuity needed to ensure real progress takes place hasn’t existed at city hall. Burlington has been through two city managers with the third just getting the feel of the city.

If you add in the short period of time Pat Moyle was brought in to oversee things while General Manager Scott Stewart basically ran the city – the total is four city managers in five years. They seem to stay for just over two years and then move on. One of the four was shown the door.

Good municipal people tend to leave the city and look for a location that has more in the way of top level management that provides a setting where they can grow their own careers.

There are some exceptionally good people who do fine work on your behalf day in and day out.

Circle of opportunity - Brant Street

If the developments that are well beyond the thinking stage do it right this art of the city could become a new destination which a charm of its own – at least one of the developers just has to do it right and change some of their out of date thinking.

A second very good development cluster is coming together on Brant Street at Ghent.

The Burlington Square Plaza has announced their plans to significantly upgrade the site and add four levels of residential with commercial at grade level.

That site has not managed to attract the commercial tenants it wanted. A new real estate firm has been brought in to rent the space and attract the kind of clientele that can take advantage of everything the site offers.  The patio potential for the location is superb.

A block north at the Prospect intersection with Brant there will eventually be a development that puts a high rise in place – expect the application to be for more than the eight storeys the Official plan allows.

There is an opportunity for the developers of that site to retain some of the city’s heritage by including at least a portion of the GET NAME and date in any development.

A shift in thinking about how to work with the member of council who represents the ward would serve everyone much better.

There is still an element within the development community that feels council is there to hold up projects – the planning department is in place to ensure that the rules are fair and that the public interest is protected.

Land is not there to be exploited by the owners; land is there to be used to the benefit of everyone – not just the owners who are entitled to the best return they can get. Good projects have consistently given a higher return to bot the owners of the land and the community they are located in.

It is time for developers to think more about the city that is being developed rather than just the financial return. There is more than ample evidence showing that quality always pays off – anything less than the best that can be done diminishes everyone.


Robert Molinaro works with citizens on some ideas for the property they have assembled at Brant and Ghent

The Molinaro Group has assembled properties on either side of Ghent across the Street from the Burlington Square Plaza. The opportunity for a cluster of buildings that will create a destination further up Brant Street offers another opportunity that we should not let get away from us.

At least one of the Molinaro brothers has taken part in the working group sessions Councillor Meed Ward held recently. Her final report on what came out of those sessions is due late in September – it will be interesting to see what comes out of those public participation events

The opportunity on Lakeshore Road with the planned development s that will put more high end residential development into the downtown core and create a cluster of hotel capacity is only good news.

The city will need to upgrade its Tourism department to handle what will become a very different city that needs a more sophisticated approach to promoting the city.  With two hotels within a block of each other and a Performing Arts Centre a short short walk away and a patio with several good restaurants looking over the lake – the city will be ready for small conventions.

Residents on the Beachway have spent thousands of dollars to upgrade their properties - this is where they live and where they want to stay.  One of the better examples of improved properties is this house on Lakeshore Road

Residents on the Beachway have spent thousands of dollars to upgrade their properties – this is where they live and where they want to stay. One of the better examples of improved properties is this house on Lakeshore Road. It would serve as an important part of a community park if it were retained.

Mixed in with all this is the long range plan to turn the Beachway Park into something that will rival anything elsewhere in this province – indeed in the country.

If a way can be found to keep at least some of the residential component in the park we will have shown the world that we understand the importance of community – which translates to having people who serves as the eyes on the street.

If one were to stand back and look at the potential – one could get a little giddy with excitement – all we have to do is make it work.  The vision is already there – executing on that vision is what the current council needs to do.


Links to related articles in the Gazette.

Ward 2 Councillor convinces the developers to take part in her workshops.

Part one of this feature.

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