Historic Hamilton Site May Soon Get New Life

 

A Hamilton historic site may soon gain new life.

At Wednesday's (Sept. 18) General Issues Committee meeting, The Cardus Institute shared the details of their unsolicited proposal to rehabilitate the Chedoke Estate, or Balfour Estate, to its former glory without any cost to the city.

Cardus is a faith-based Hamilton think tank that has previously restored historic buildings in the city, most notably a warehouse in Corktown on Young Street in which Cardus currently resides.

The proposal, presented by Cardus CEO Michael VanPelt, sets out a situation in which the think tank would lease the building until 2039 — the length of Hamilton's stewardship under an agreement with the Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT) who owns the property.

Cardus proposes to cover the operational expenses and capital costs, without any cost to the taxpayer of Hamilton, the duration of their tenancy of the property.

They would also, according to the proposal, open the doors of the property to the public for Doors Open Hamilton and other such events.

"This Hamilton gem," VanPelt said, "has been virtually inaccessible since 1979."

The property has been maintained by the city since the beginning of its stewardship, but many would argue the house has fallen into a state of disrepair.

The city's operating costs for the property are approximately $20,000 a year, though much of that is recouped through commercial filming on the property, a staff report introducing the proposal states.

"We love heritage buildings," VanPelt said. "We have a win-win situation in front of us."

Most members of the committee agreed, with Councillor Esther Pauls providing an enthusiastic endorsement of the proposal, echoing VanPelt's assertion that this is a "win-win" situation.

The estate is made up of a stone manor house (Balfour House) — which was built in the 1830s — and a coach house that is situated on a picturesque park-like property on the mountain brow, overlooking the city.

The committee was so enthusiastic about the proposal, the agreed to spend two months working out a lease agreement for the property — a timeline shortened from the proposed four months — ruling out the possibility of hearing other potential bids on the property.

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