Friends of Auchmar held a community meeting on May 18 at the Hamilton Club focused on the future of its namesake property located at Fennell Ave. W. and West 5th St. on Hamilton Mountain.
The purpose of the meeting was to present the case to maintain and leverage public ownership of the 10-acre estate which features a 19th-century manor house built by The Honourable Isaac Buchanan.
This public campaign is gaining momentum in the lead up to a decision by Hamilton City Council in the coming weeks on whether to keep Auchmar in public hands or sell it.
The evening opened with an illustrated talk by McMaster University business professor Marvin Ryder that outlined four criteria to help decision makers evaluate the adaptive reuse potential of any given heritage property, particularly through an economic lens.
These criteria, phrased as questions, are:
Ryder used these criteria to highlight the strengths and shortcomings of a variety of sample sites in North America and Europe, including heritage properties that remain in limbo due to one or more persistent challenges.
He then applied the criteria to the Auchmar Estate. Ryder placed green ‘check marks’ beside two criteria: Structural integrity and historical significance. From there on, he was less generous.
Ryder believes that Hamilton City Councillors – the legal representatives of the current owner – are “mixed at best” when it comes to maintaining public ownership of Auchmar and flowing additional monies needed to return the property to full use.
He recommended that Friends of Auchmar (and other supporters) squarely focus on identifying a go forward use for the estate that is commercially sound and self sustaining. “We can no longer save buildings for the sake of saving buildings,” said Ryder in closing. “The key is finding a viable use and developing a business plan. If you can do that, the other pieces will all come together – that’s the linchpin.”
The meeting also included remarks by Hamilton Chamber CEO Keanin Loomis, a board presentation by Richard Allen and Eric Lootsma on the enduring benefits of public ownership, and several community testimonials (see media below).
To learn more and sign a petition, visit www.friendsofauchmar.ca.
Marvin Ryder “Four Criteria for Effective Adaptive Reuse” – 21 minutes
Jeff Feswick of Historia Building Restoration “Stands Up for Auchmar” - 3 minutes
Alexander Temporale of ATA Architects Inc. “Stands Up for Auchmar” – 5 minutes
CLICK HERE to read Hamilton Spectator article that reports on May 18 meeting.