5 things that could improve Hamilton's Jackson Square


There's a lot of buzz surrounding Hamilton's downtown core these days, thanks to the pending sale and reimagining of the former Eaton's Centre property.

It's exciting to think of the possibilities that await this part of our city which, let's face it, has seen better days.

Don't get me wrong, Jackson Square still has a few little gems within its walls and I, along with thousands of Hamiltonians, am a frequent visitor to the Farmer's Market, Nations and the library, but there's no denying things are getting a little tired down there.

With debate over the FirstOntario Centre still raging and exciting plans in the works for City Centre, wouldn't it be fun to also reimagine what Jackson Square could be?

Here are five things that we think could benefit that little mall that could, Jackson Square.

5. Working water features
As it stands, there isn't much happening in terms of fun little water features in JS. Used to be, when you entered the mall near Bay off King Street, you walked into a wall of chloriney fumes that signalled the presence of the giant wall of water and the fountains nearby. They were pretty mesmerizing and fun to throw pennies in to make a wish. Now, these features sit pretty lifeless and perhaps bringing them back to life in one form or another might the space a little more character.

4. More natural light
There's something pretty reminiscent of Toronto's underground PATH system at JS and I'm pretty sure it's the lack of natural light. I think a little more light, particularly in the food court, would work wonders in making the space a little more inviting. Remember the old food court? It had oceans of light but I'm sure there were good reasons for moving the food court to its current cave-like location.

3. Better parking options
With better (free) parking options, JS could be in a much better position to attract more traffic, as it were. I will admit, I truly appreciate the underground parking in this area but do I love paying for it all the time? Not really. I'm not a city planner or any kind of expert on urban development, but I feel like, for those of us who live a little further out who appreciate what JS still has to offer, it'd be pretty cool to have a place to rest our motorized steeds as we exercise our wallets.

2. More brand name stores
I know this is a tricky one. We've had some brand names down here before and they haven't fared well but maybe it's the wrong brand. I'm thinking of more affordable brands like Old Navy or Giant Tiger. They seem to be big draws in other areas of Hamilton, why wouldn't they get the same reception in a downtown location?

1. Better use of the rooftop space

As a teenager, I spent a lot of time hanging out on the roof of Jackson Square. It was kind of the thing to do: take the King bus down to Jackson, hang out on the rooftop with your friends, watch friends skateboard etc., then head back down to Eastgate Square on the King bus and hang out in the food court. It was a perfect Friday night. I guess as a teenager, I didn't really appreciate the fact that we weren't really using the space as perhaps those who originally envisioned it intended. I was up on the roof last week with a group of potential investors who were touring the City Centre with its new soon-to-be owner and was struck by how desolate the space seemed and how all the buildings surrounding the space seemed to have their backs turned on it. All in all, it's a very underutilized piece of real estate in a prime Hamilton location that I feel could be put to good use if we took the initiative to spiffy it up a little and invite people to use the space as I think it was originally intended.

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