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Hamilton Economic Development

City staff to sell west harbour at global conference

Photo of Hamilton Harbour AreaHamilton’s west harbour redevelopment is among huge global projects being highlighted by the biggest real estate conference in the world.

“We’d like to have people lined up chomping at the bit to put a proposal forward” when the lands go on sale in late 2015 or early 2016, said Chris Phillips, the point person on the waterfront redevelopment strategy.

Hamilton pitched to the organizers of the MIPIM (Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier) to have the waterfront featured on its blog and newsletter leading into the show March 10-13 in Cannes, France.

“The fact we were selected from a whole bunch from around the world says a lot about the opportunity this presents,” said Phillips.

Hamilton’s waterfront was among seven North American projects highlighted by MIPIM, along with an arena district in Edmonton, a riverfront office tower in Chicago, an eco-campus in Montreal and a waterfront community at the mouth of Toronto’s Don River.

MIPIM features 2,225 exhibitors, 300 speakers and 150 keynotes, panels and workshops. Last year, it attracted more than 21,000 people, including 1,460 investors and 1,126 developers.

Phillips, Hamilton senior business development consultant Jennifer Patterson and McMaster Innovation Park CEO Zach Douglas will be part of a broader Ontario consortium of 10 cities that also includes Toronto, Ottawa, Brampton, Guelph and London.

MIPIM will feature a Canadian pavilion for the first time.

Other city mayors will be attending, but Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger will be staying home due to the lead-up to the Junos.

Hamilton is a founding member of the Real Estate Investment Alliance, a partnership between the Economic Development Council of Ontario and the province.

“Alliances help us leverage opportunities with less money. We have to be strategic about tackling international-scale promotion,” said Patterson.

“We’ll be competing with the biggest cities in the world and we need a bigger presence to make an impact.”

Hamilton’s team will also be promoting the Red Hill Business Park, the airport employment district, MIP and the downtown.

Deals do get signed at the conference, though Phillips says the goal with this first trip is to get on the radar screen of investors.

“We’ll be looking to establishing contacts with international firms.”

Phillips went to the trade show with some provincial representatives last year to see if Hamilton should take part in 2015.

He held several meetings last year to talk about the city’s waterfront redevelopment plans, which include housing, recreation, retail, office and hospitality amenities.

“I was blown away by the size, scale and scope of the conference and how cities pitched their development opportunities.”

Phillips says Hamilton’s west harbour is among the few urban waterfronts that remain undeveloped in Ontario. And its proximity to the downtown and well-established residential neighbourhoods are huge selling features, he said.

The city’s capital budget calls for a $60-million investment over four years to get the lands development ready by 2018. That would include shoreline work, roadways, water and sewer services.

Estimates for the redevelopment of Hamilton’s waterfront from Piers 5 to 8 and the implementation of the city’s west harbour recreation master plan are about $130 million over the next decade.

Article courtesy of  Meredith MacLeod, The Hamilton Spectator

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