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Hamilton Economic Development

Land for new Coppley building approved for brownfield remediation grant

A city committee has approved a $784,074 brownfield remediation grant to a developer who is building new quarters for Coppley Apparel on MacNab Street North.

The general issues committee this week agreed to the grant to Blacks Point Development under the city’s Environmental Remediation and Site Enhancement Community Improvement Plan. City Council will make a final decision on the grant at a meeting Friday.

A city staff report says the site at 107 MacNab St. N., at some point, was used as a gasoline service station with underground fuel storage tanks, and the south portion of the property was an automobile wrecking yard and automobile supply business. In addition, fill of “unknown quality” was spread on the site when the storage tanks were removed.

“It’s hard to know exactly what all was there. But like many sites in Hamilton it had an industrial history,” said Bryan Dykstra, of the development company.

He said the grant from the city was a key piece in making an economic case for moving ahead with the project.

“It’s very important. The legacy costs of the past can be prohibitive to any development moving forward. I think a lot of municipalities have grants like this and without them the pace of regeneration, particularly in urban cores, would be set back dramatically.”

However, he said, the total remediation costs for the development are far more than the grant will cover. He would not say how much.

Judy Lam, the city’s manager of urban renewal, said the program assumes redeveloped brownfield sites will have much higher property taxes after redevelopment projects are completed. The ERASE grants are paid as rebates from increased taxes after the new building opens. The rebates continue for a certain number of years depending on how much the company has been granted.

In the case of the Coppley project, the land is currently only yielding $24,183 per year in property taxes. However, once the project is completed — with a new three-storey, 70,000-square-foot building — that figure skyrockets to $385,218. Under the program the property owner will be eligible for 80 per cent rebates on the first several years of taxes until $784,074 is reached.

“We want to provide some kind of incentive so brownfield sites can be reused for what companies need today,” said Lam.

“Old buildings that are not earning much in the way of tax revenue for the city can be transformed back into new revenues for the city. The program is a win-win for everyone. It is a very successful program that pays for itself,” she said.

The project at on MacNab Street North will see Blacks Point Development become Coppley’s landlord at one location instead of the three sites the menswear maker is currently using in Hamilton.

The sites include the one on MacNab, which is being demolished to make way for the new facility, as well as locations at 56 York Blvd. and 127 Hughson St. N.

Of particular interest, from a heritage point of view, is the building at York that was built in 1856. Various efforts have been made over the years to have it designated heritage but the owner — the Enkin Family — has successfully resisted.

Asked what he plans to do with the building after Coppley vacates in mid 2020, Larry Enkin said yesterday, “It’s really too early for me to be thinking about that. And besides, there are other people involved who will have to make the decisions.

“We’re patient. We’re not going to rush anything. When the building becomes clear, we’ll consider options,” said Enkin, who lives in Toronto.

Coppley is owned by New York-based Individualized Apparel Group (IAG). More than 270 people currently work for Coppley, which began in Hamilton 135 years ago. Coppley says its workforce size will stay the same or slightly increase in the new quarters.

Article courtesy of Mark McNeil, The Hamilton Spectator

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