Hamilton proposes selling Auchmar Estate – again.

News May 17, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton heritage staff is recommending that Auchmar Estate and the surrounding property on the mountain be sold.

The proposal in a report scheduled to be presented to councillors at their General Issues Committee meeting May 20 caught heritage advocate Pat Saunders off-guard.

“I almost want to scream,” said Saunders, a member of the Hamilton Historical Board, and Friends of Auchmar.  “I feel so disappointed, to put it mildly.”

Councillors authorized city staff to issue a request for proposals in late 2013 for the adaptive reuse, conservation and management of Auchmar, in an attempt to finally solve the nagging preservation problem with the building that goes back 16 years.

Two submissions were received, and eventually neither proposal could be accepted by the city. One of the submissions was from CoBALT Connects, and the other from the non-profit Friends of Auchmar. Hamilton has overseen Auchmar, located at 88 Fennell Avenue West, since 1999 when it took it over from DeSantis Homes. The city and the developer had initiated a land swap, with Hamilton formally taking control of the property.

In June 2014, councillors narrowly turned down an idea of conducting a special negotiation with a secret non-profit organization that wanted to use Auchmar. Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead, who represents the area where Auchmar is located, attempted to facilitate the negotiations, arguing the non-profit had enough money to buy, renovate and maintain the building. But councillors remained skeptical of the idea of a secret organization which refused to identify itself, holding behind-the-scenes talks with the city.

In its report, city heritage staff states that after a number of failures to improve the facility, “it is clear that a different approach to establishing a long-term adaptive re-use for Auchmar is needed.”

This potential change in direction for Auchmar’s future ignores all the work and time volunteer heritage groups have invested into keeping the former Isaac Buchanan property in public hands, said Saunders.

In addition, Saunders points out other times when the city has proposed to sell Auchmar, it has been met with failure. Auchmar Estate has extensive heritage easements on the property held by the Ontario Heritage Trust that limits what can be done to the building and the 3.765 hectare land.

In 2003 a request for proposal was sent out nationally, but the city received only two submissions and both were rejected because it involved redeveloping the property into residential homes. There was also interest from the Settlement and Immigration Services Organization, but its proposal was eventually passed on by council.

The city has spent over $600,000 on maintaining the property, fixing up the building, and improving parts of the structure. City staff has estimated to restore the building to a “reasonable standard,” about $6 million is needed. It costs about $20,000 annually to maintain the property.

“They have ignored the work of the volunteers,” said Saunders. “I would have though the city would have worked collaboratively with volunteers to keep Auchmar for the betterment of all the residents of Hamilton.”

Auchmar, built in 1852, has been described by some mountain heritage advocates as the Dundurn Castle of the mountain.

Saunders says heritage staff’s suggestion of selling the property is a terrible blow to the idea of the city trying to save its important historical buildings. Saunders has been involved in saving Century Manor, one of Hamilton’s oldest structures, as the provincial government mulls over what to do with the building.

“What is the matter with us? We have already lost so much of our heritage buildings on the Mountain,” said Saunders.

Hamilton proposes selling Auchmar Estate – again.

News May 17, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton heritage staff is recommending that Auchmar Estate and the surrounding property on the mountain be sold.

The proposal in a report scheduled to be presented to councillors at their General Issues Committee meeting May 20 caught heritage advocate Pat Saunders off-guard.

“I almost want to scream,” said Saunders, a member of the Hamilton Historical Board, and Friends of Auchmar.  “I feel so disappointed, to put it mildly.”

Councillors authorized city staff to issue a request for proposals in late 2013 for the adaptive reuse, conservation and management of Auchmar, in an attempt to finally solve the nagging preservation problem with the building that goes back 16 years.

Two submissions were received, and eventually neither proposal could be accepted by the city. One of the submissions was from CoBALT Connects, and the other from the non-profit Friends of Auchmar. Hamilton has overseen Auchmar, located at 88 Fennell Avenue West, since 1999 when it took it over from DeSantis Homes. The city and the developer had initiated a land swap, with Hamilton formally taking control of the property.

In June 2014, councillors narrowly turned down an idea of conducting a special negotiation with a secret non-profit organization that wanted to use Auchmar. Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead, who represents the area where Auchmar is located, attempted to facilitate the negotiations, arguing the non-profit had enough money to buy, renovate and maintain the building. But councillors remained skeptical of the idea of a secret organization which refused to identify itself, holding behind-the-scenes talks with the city.

In its report, city heritage staff states that after a number of failures to improve the facility, “it is clear that a different approach to establishing a long-term adaptive re-use for Auchmar is needed.”

This potential change in direction for Auchmar’s future ignores all the work and time volunteer heritage groups have invested into keeping the former Isaac Buchanan property in public hands, said Saunders.

In addition, Saunders points out other times when the city has proposed to sell Auchmar, it has been met with failure. Auchmar Estate has extensive heritage easements on the property held by the Ontario Heritage Trust that limits what can be done to the building and the 3.765 hectare land.

In 2003 a request for proposal was sent out nationally, but the city received only two submissions and both were rejected because it involved redeveloping the property into residential homes. There was also interest from the Settlement and Immigration Services Organization, but its proposal was eventually passed on by council.

The city has spent over $600,000 on maintaining the property, fixing up the building, and improving parts of the structure. City staff has estimated to restore the building to a “reasonable standard,” about $6 million is needed. It costs about $20,000 annually to maintain the property.

“They have ignored the work of the volunteers,” said Saunders. “I would have though the city would have worked collaboratively with volunteers to keep Auchmar for the betterment of all the residents of Hamilton.”

Auchmar, built in 1852, has been described by some mountain heritage advocates as the Dundurn Castle of the mountain.

Saunders says heritage staff’s suggestion of selling the property is a terrible blow to the idea of the city trying to save its important historical buildings. Saunders has been involved in saving Century Manor, one of Hamilton’s oldest structures, as the provincial government mulls over what to do with the building.

“What is the matter with us? We have already lost so much of our heritage buildings on the Mountain,” said Saunders.

Hamilton proposes selling Auchmar Estate – again.

News May 17, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton heritage staff is recommending that Auchmar Estate and the surrounding property on the mountain be sold.

The proposal in a report scheduled to be presented to councillors at their General Issues Committee meeting May 20 caught heritage advocate Pat Saunders off-guard.

“I almost want to scream,” said Saunders, a member of the Hamilton Historical Board, and Friends of Auchmar.  “I feel so disappointed, to put it mildly.”

Councillors authorized city staff to issue a request for proposals in late 2013 for the adaptive reuse, conservation and management of Auchmar, in an attempt to finally solve the nagging preservation problem with the building that goes back 16 years.

Two submissions were received, and eventually neither proposal could be accepted by the city. One of the submissions was from CoBALT Connects, and the other from the non-profit Friends of Auchmar. Hamilton has overseen Auchmar, located at 88 Fennell Avenue West, since 1999 when it took it over from DeSantis Homes. The city and the developer had initiated a land swap, with Hamilton formally taking control of the property.

In June 2014, councillors narrowly turned down an idea of conducting a special negotiation with a secret non-profit organization that wanted to use Auchmar. Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead, who represents the area where Auchmar is located, attempted to facilitate the negotiations, arguing the non-profit had enough money to buy, renovate and maintain the building. But councillors remained skeptical of the idea of a secret organization which refused to identify itself, holding behind-the-scenes talks with the city.

In its report, city heritage staff states that after a number of failures to improve the facility, “it is clear that a different approach to establishing a long-term adaptive re-use for Auchmar is needed.”

This potential change in direction for Auchmar’s future ignores all the work and time volunteer heritage groups have invested into keeping the former Isaac Buchanan property in public hands, said Saunders.

In addition, Saunders points out other times when the city has proposed to sell Auchmar, it has been met with failure. Auchmar Estate has extensive heritage easements on the property held by the Ontario Heritage Trust that limits what can be done to the building and the 3.765 hectare land.

In 2003 a request for proposal was sent out nationally, but the city received only two submissions and both were rejected because it involved redeveloping the property into residential homes. There was also interest from the Settlement and Immigration Services Organization, but its proposal was eventually passed on by council.

The city has spent over $600,000 on maintaining the property, fixing up the building, and improving parts of the structure. City staff has estimated to restore the building to a “reasonable standard,” about $6 million is needed. It costs about $20,000 annually to maintain the property.

“They have ignored the work of the volunteers,” said Saunders. “I would have though the city would have worked collaboratively with volunteers to keep Auchmar for the betterment of all the residents of Hamilton.”

Auchmar, built in 1852, has been described by some mountain heritage advocates as the Dundurn Castle of the mountain.

Saunders says heritage staff’s suggestion of selling the property is a terrible blow to the idea of the city trying to save its important historical buildings. Saunders has been involved in saving Century Manor, one of Hamilton’s oldest structures, as the provincial government mulls over what to do with the building.

“What is the matter with us? We have already lost so much of our heritage buildings on the Mountain,” said Saunders.