It's not too difficult, given the length of time consumed discussing the future of Hamilton's Lister Block, to shrug one's shoulders and wish they'd just tear the damn thing down. End the on going ups and downs we've all be reading and hearing about for the last 8 to 10 years and just get rid of it. Get rid of that decaying purple bricked building you'd see in a city like Detroit sitting in the heart of downtown Hamilton. It can't be doing anything good in terms of attracting business to the downtown. Indeed, many have said it's a symbol of the rotting downtown core and the lack of leadership on the part of city hall to get things moving. Time has run out! It's do or die time!
Or is it?
First thing that comes to my mind is the urgency of all this. Beyond all the politics of lease rate increases and provincial grant money and deadlines for action there sits a rather ramshackle looking building to be sure, but it's still a solid steel framed concrete and brick building of the 1920's that really isn't going to fall over if left alone for many more years.
What's rather maddening, and completely underplayed in the media, are the owners of the building who have left it open to the elements and riff raff and have done nothing to keep it clean and respectable looking since taking ownership 10 or so years ago. For everyone who has been turned off by the site of the Lister Block only its owner, LIUNA, not city hall, carries the blame. If, by leaving it to look so decayed is the impetus to provoke action on the site, well good, the point has been made by LiUNA. Obviously, not even council is going to be duped into forking over loads more money to a landlord that has done a great job of making a gem of building look so awful.
We're looking at several more months or years of talk and debate on the building's future. The people of this city are stakeholders in the future of this building and it is up to the people and the council they elected to demand owners clean and maintain their properties. A few thousand dollars is really all that's needed to properly board and polish up a once proud building in the downtown. It's time to clean it up now if only to show that it cares about the image of downtown Hamilton.
A great Lister Block photo gallery by Lopix.