Affordable and social housing charity Indwell is bidding against two private developers to purchase Delta Secondary School from the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
The school was closed in 2019 and is a heritage-designated East Hamilton landmark.
“We’re hoping that the School Board sees the value in our bid,” writes Indwell Director of Projects and Planning Graham Cubitt in response to a question from The Public Record.
“Our vision is to facilitate a community-informed project that prioritizes an affordable, mixed-income rental and home-ownership community for Hamilton households, while keeping the valued heritage of this site intact.”
The Indwell bid is financially supported by the Hamilton Community Foundation.
“HCF has provided the deposit for the bid & is committed to finance the purchase once we receive positive due diligence,” writes HCF CEO Terry Cooke. “We share Indwell’s vision for a mixed income community hub starting with a focus on affordable/supportive housing.”
Indwell is competing against major local developer New Horizon Development Group, and Toronto-based developer Windmill Developments.
Windmill specializes in converting heritage buildings into condos and has been seeking opportunities in Hamilton in recent years.
“We expect the private bidders may offer higher offers, but we’re confident they can’t outbid us on broad and transparent public benefits,” writes Cubitt. “We hope that the Board will look at the total public value of the offers, not just the top-line dollar value.”
Ontario Regulation 444/98 requires school boards to “dispose of a property at fair market value”.
Opened in 1924 and located at 1284 Main Street East, the building is heritage designated for its Modern Gothic style architecture which “still boasts handsome building elevations in Milton red rug brick and Tyndall limestone – the first such use of this stone building material in Hamilton and one of the first instances of its use in Ontario.”
Following the school board’s decision in 2012 that the school would close, Hamilton City Council began the process of placing a heritage designation on the building to protect it.
It was Hamilton’s oldest high school when it closed in 2019.
The heritage designation requires any residential conversion to protect the entire existing building and prohibits building on the front lawn.
The property is one of the largest in this area of East Hamilton, covering the entire block bound by Main Street East, Graham Avenue South, Maple Avenue, and Wexford Avenue South.
A six-story mid-rise building can be built on the rear asphalt area which served as a parking lot.
Cubitt writes Indwell wants “to be a catalyst for a full spectrum of public benefits through Delta’s redevelopment, including arts and sport/recreation organizations.”
“Schools are important public assets, and we believe these assets are more than just the financialized value of their land.”
The public school board will decide on bids early in 2022.
The City should add to the Indwell bid by committing to increase the bid to exceed any private developer bid. Why? Because Hamilton has a housing responsibility and this presents a very significant opportunity to do something concrete to deliver affordable housing within a stable neighbourhood.
In fact, maybe the city should get out of the housing construction business and become a partner with charities and other deep need housing providers by supplying capital dollars to bring units to market.
Couldn’t agree more!
While I agree with you, I don’t think taxpayers money should be used to outbid developers who can afford a bidding war. I am not sure how rigid the schoolboard is on getting the best buck for their property but their responsibility to their community should be entrenched in their legal framework.
Social affordable housing is sorely needed in Hamilton. As 3 generations of my family attended Delta Secondary I would love to see a useful and needed project on this site. Huge profits are not always a wise solution to things.
Both my husband and I are native Hamiltonians and lived in the east end most of our lives. We went to Delta as did all of our sons and one granddaughter. Affordable housing is such a pressing need in Hamilton, I cannot think of a better way for this Grand Old School to be used. Sure hope the city accepts the Indwell bid. It thrills me to know it is now a heritage building……it is so beautiful.
When Delta’s hearty boys fall into line,
They’re going to win again another time,
It’s for the dear old school we love so well
It’s for the dear old school we yell, we yell, we yell.
And we will fight, fight, fight,
With all our might
Until this old game is won, for Red and White,
We’ll give our old time cheer, we’ll do our best,
Rah, Rah, Rah, D.S.S.
This is such a needed home fir hHamilrins less fortunate! Totally agree the city should “kick in” $ to seal the deal !
I have lived in this nieghbourhood for 32 years. Indwell has created other projects in East Hamilton with integraty. With the housing shortage I feel this should be a priority. I know they will fo a good job for social housing.
I hope Indwell wins the bid no matter if they are out bid. We don’t need high end condos like they did to District High school in Dundas. Waterdown converted their old high-school to affordable condos years ago. Affordable rental and the likes of affordable ownership should be the win. Keep it Hamilton remodeled.
Let’s hope the city council are thinking with their hearts on this. May God bless this bird. So much TRUE value here
I volunteered for seven years at Indwell until the pandemic locked us out, and I can bear witness to the organization’s sincere commitment to serving the vulnerable in our community. I hope they win this bid and are able to carry on their work in this magnificent heritage building.
I notice there’s a possibility of building new units behind the existing school. I wonder if the property could be divided with Indwell able to do their incredible socially valuable work transforming the school into affordable housing and private interest paying market rates to the school board for the land? Seems like it would be good to get some bridges built between the not-for-profits and the business community.
Let’s all hope that common sense and a feeling of the Community Value which Delta has always provided in East Hamilton will be ever present at any review of bids and that the private sector should be charged a hefty premium for being allowed into this bidding process. The City and approvals folks need to scrutinize EVERY tender and insure that the good of the community is maintained first and ONLY. Unscrupulous politicians and greed have been present in many “Historical Buildings” tenders in my opinion – would be a terrible loss to see that repeated on such a Grand Old Lady of this community. Hoping for a good, honest, tendering and that the community good is the main recipient.