A Hamilton nonprofit hopes to transform empty classrooms at Delta High School into affordable housing and community space.

To dwell is one of three bidders, the other private developers, who are aiming to purchase the Main Street East Heritage Building closed to the public board.

The idea is to divide a future residential component between affordable rental and owned units, says Graham Cubitt, director of projects and development.

But Indwell, which specializes in deeply affordable units, also wants Delta’s “phenomenal” facilities, including its gym and auditorium, to remain available for community use.

Those kinds of assets aren’t being replaced as part of today’s business developments, Cubitt says. “So how we maintain those kinds of spaces within an urban neighborhood is very important.”

School board Delta closed in 2019. Built in 1924, it was the oldest high school in Hamilton.

The approximately 200,000-square-foot building is on a six-acre site that overlooks Maple Avenue and is located between Wexford Avenue South and Graham Avenue South.

New Horizon Development Inc. hopes to turn the old school into condo lofts and build housing units around it, says President Jeff Paikin.

“So a combination of old and new, and somewhere there is a historical room that is almost a Delta High museum.”

The condo units would offer “entry-level” pricing for young home hunters to enter Hamilton’s runaway market, Paikin said.

Whatever New Horizon can build on the site will respect Delta East’s predominantly low-rise single-family neighborhood, he added.

“Super height doesn’t exist in our thought process here,” said Paikin, whose Burlington-based firm is planning a trio of towers near the shoreline of Stoney Creek.

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Windmill Developments, a Toronto company with experience in adaptive reuse projects, envisions “various forms of housing” on the site, including affordable units, says partner Alex Spiegel.

“That would be the intention, but for us it is a very early stage.”

The school is a “wonderful building,” Spiegel said. “It is a great cultural asset.”

Any development would be “very sensitive to the context of the neighborhood,” he added.

The Hamilton Community Foundation supports Indwell’s offering with favorable funding and deposit, which can be difficult for nonprofits to align.

“I think it starts with our deep commitment to affordable housing,” said Terry Cooke, president and CEO. “I think this is the challenge of our generation.”

Delta is situated along Hamilton’s future LRT route, which will run from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.

The light rail prospect has sparked intense interest from private developers, making it crucial for the public arena to act on parcels within reach as values ​​rise, Cooke said.

“We need to act quickly to protect them from affordable housing and make sure we are creating mixed-income communities.”

Cubitt said rental units at the renovated Delta school would be in the $ 500-per-month range.

Compare that to $ 1,482, the median rate for a one-bedroom apartment in Hamilton, according to the latest Rentals.ca report.

Indwell would also like to partner with a developer to build affordable property units “at Hamilton rates, but not GTA rates,” Cubitt said.

In October, the median sale price of a residential property was $ 864,474, compared to $ 664,478 the previous year, the Hamilton-Burlington Realtors Association reported.

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Cubitt said several agencies and organizations expressed interest in Delta, but the complexity of the site, which requires costly asbestos removal, was a problem.

“So, on behalf of our community, we took the opportunity to submit an offer that we think could be a winning offer, and we’ll see what happens.”

Any agreement will be “executed based on staff availability and legal review,” school board spokesman Shawn McKillop said by email.

Teviah Moro is a reporter for The Spectator. [email protected]


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