Steel mills in Hamilton were once the city’s largest employer and one of the main reasons that the downtown core was thriving. However, when the steel industry began to lose its edge, so did the city, leaving a lasting effect that shook Hamilton down to the core.

Hamilton’s downtown looks significantly different than it did a few years ago. In particular, the King Street strip, which once hosted abandoned storefronts and eclectic businesses, has entered a new state of revitalization.

Businesses of all types have been flocking to the Steel City over the past decade in an effort to contribute towards Hamilton’s “renaissance”, a term being used across the board to explain Hamilton’s urban revival.

The options are seemingly limitless when it comes down to what you can do in Hamilton. The changes that the core has faced within the last five years, specifically along King Street East, has given the city of Hamilton a breath of renewal.

However, the changes in infrastructure with the Light Rail Transit project moving forward and the rise in costs of living and operating a business are challenges that several businesses amongst the downtown core are facing head-on.

You can do anything on King Street

From chain restaurants, to co-working spaces to niche, experimental business concepts, the versatile nature of King Street proves that there’s something for everyone. The street is home to a ping pong bar, a game store that doubles as an arcade, several boutiques, vintage purveyors and an escape room, in addition to several other hospitality and retail destinations.

Whitney McMeekin opened her business, Girl on the Wing, along King Street nearly four and a half years ago. Amidst several abandoned storefronts and a diverse range of businesses, McMeekin opened up shop in an effort to bring attention to the area.

“I liked the idea of being off the beaten path a little and attempting to bring some attention to an area that not many people frequented,” said McMeekin. “I also loved the diversity in types of businesses here.”

McMeekin’s business is one of several specialty retail stores that finds its home along King Street and who have opened for that same reason. There is definite character to be found in storefronts along King Street that is hard to find anywhere else. The eclectic range of business ventures, the architectural attributes in which many store owners take pride and the rich history several buildings along King Street hold often make it the best place for one to set up shop.

"It's only going to grow more. Especially with projects like the Spallaci buildings and the condos near King William"

 

Trevor Hunt
Co-owner,
The Fizz

Rising costs of operating

The rise in popular entrepreneurial ventures within the city has also contributed to the overall rising cost of living within the city itself. With a tremendous spike in higher-end business ventures and hospitality services, there has also been a significant spike in the cost for both residential and commercial rental spaces.

From 2013 to 2015, vacancy rates within the city of Hamilton fell to 1.8 per cent from 3.4 per cent, forcing rental costs to skyrocket and lowering the means for affordable rental spaces across the city.

“When I hear other people’s rents around me, especially newer people, I’m always a bit surprised that it’s so much higher than mine. But I signed my lease almost five years ago,” noted McMeekin.

This past spring saw the opening of The Fizz: Soda and Sandwich shop on King Street East. The niche, specialty soda shop, run by Trevor and Amanda Hunt, is just one of many new businesses to open up shop along the King Street strip who pay significantly more than their neighbouring entrepreneurs.

“Property prices are rising for sure. I myself pay more than my neighbour who has been here for only a few years prior to me,” said Trevor Hunt. “It’s only going to grow more. Especially with projects like the Spallacci buildings and the condos near King William.”

With higher-end condos on the rise within the city, specifically projects such as the Royal Connaught, the costs of living and working within the city will most likely continue to grow over the next several years.

Moving forward at light speed

In August 2017, the province  gave the city of Hamilton a green light on the well-debated Light Rail Transit project. In its current state, one of the LRT routes takes form along both Main and King Streets from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.

Major construction of the LRT lines are set to take place from 2019 to 2024, a five-year gap that may reduce traffic for business and host other complications that construction often sees.

Kerry Jarvi of the Downtown Business Improvement Area notes that the specifics of how this construction will take hold are still up in the air.

“I think most people are aware that there is going to be construction and that construction can be difficult. Our role [at the BIA] is to make it as seamless as possible,” said Jarvi. “We don’t have a lot of specifics on what exactly [construction] looks like yet. It could be that the whole route is up for the whole few years or it could just go block by block.”

Other business owners along King Street have voiced their concerns regarding how this construction can impact their business. Some businesses have come up with secondary access points to consider, depending on the nature of the construction. 

Hamilton rising

The revival of the downtown core, specifically throughout King Street, has brought an onslaught of change within its demographics. The former blue-collar, working class individuals who were once at its centre are now being overwhelmed by a rise in students, families and Torontonians who are looking to make Hamilton home.

In addition to the changing demographics that the city is seeing, dozens of investment companies are looking at Hamilton as a new hotspot for new opportunities in business or financing. Several vacant apartment units along King Street are seeing investment and restoration as Hamilton continues to grow, which ultimately increases the overall value of the buildings and testing the affordability of the lower storefronts.

This rise within these demographics and investment opportunities that Hamilton has to offer can ultimately lend to the increase in specialty business ventures, but the thriving nature of the city’s state of renewal will most definitely continue throughout the next several decades, which may challenge the state of independent businesses within the core.

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By: Trisha Gregorio/ANDY Writer

On April 8, 1990, Twin Peaks aired its pilot. In 1997 the episode made it to TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time, and by the early 2000s, the series has been consistently named one of the best television shows of all time. It wrapped up on June 10, 1991 with two seasons and a total of thirty episodes, followed by a movie called Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me in 1992.

Twin Peaks revolved around the murder of high school student Laura Palmer, whose death starts a chain sequence of events that becomes the catalyst for the show’s main storyline. As with many of director David Lynch’s works, the show does not adhere to norms of any particular genre. The show, all at once, contains supernatural factors and surrealist elements, underlined with both melodrama and humour. It achieved cult movie status over the years that followed its second season, and has become widely considered a television classic.

25 years later, co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost are bringing the series back for a new season. The sequel has been in the works for a year now, but budget issues have stalled production. Originally slated for a 2016 release, Dazed recently revealed that the third season has been pushed back to a 2017 broadcast on Showtime.

Eighteen episodes have been confirmed, all shot digitally, and will continue to be directed by Lynch and co-written with Frost. The creators have stressed that the new season is not a remake — rather, it will directly follow and allude to the events of the first two seasons, chronologically set 25 years after where the last episode left off.

“The story continues,” clarifies Frost. “The seeds of where we go were planted where we’ve been.”

Long-time fans are apprehensive about the changes the time skip would add to the classic small town setting the series is known for. Even more so, there’s much debate about who from the original cast is coming back after 25 years, and who’s done with the show for good.

So who’s in and who’s out? Nothing’s set in stone quite yet, but last week, along with the announcement of the pushed back release, Dazed also published a basic run-down of who’s in talks to return.

Unfortunately, many supporting actors have passed away since the end of the show’s last run. Catherine E. Coulson passed away earlier this year, and will not be reprising her role as the fan favourite Log Lady. Similarly, Jack Nance, who played her lumberjack husband Pete Martell, passed away in 1996.

Michael Ontkean, who played Sheriff Harry S. Truman and has discreetly avoided the limelight since, also declined the offer to return.

The good news, however, is that many crucial main actors are back to reprise their roles. Kyle MachLachan and Sheryl Lee are back as central characters Dale Cooper and Laura Palmer, respectively. Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie are also set for return as Leland and Sarah Palmer, and Peggy Lipton returns to the Diner as series staple Norma Jennings. Other returning actors are Lara Flynn Boyle as Laura’s best friend, Sherilyn Fenn and Richard Beymer as the Hornes, Kimmy Robertson as secretary Lucy Moran, and Michael Horse as deputy Tommy “Hawk” Hill.

Additionally, aside from the series’ creators taking complete control of the follow-up season, composer Angelo Badalamenti is also set for return. A long time collaborator of Lynch, Badalementi is responsible for the signature Twin Peaks theme song, and will no doubt spin something new into the unsettling synth score the series is known for.

With roughly two years between today and the tentative release date, all that’s left to do is to wait. To fill the gap, creator Mark Frost revealed that a book called The Secret Lives of Twin Peaks will be published before the new season’s release, meant to cover the entirety of the time skip.

It might be set 25 years later and the storyline might be facing some contemporary changes, but the majority of the main cast and crew is looking to be the same quirky bunch that made Twink Peaks the television classic that it is.

Photo Credit: David Lynch

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