Updated: Jan 1, 2021
Delta opened in 1924 and was Hamilton's oldest operating high school until it closed its doors in June 2019. The high school has been protected under the heritage designation since 2014. Delta was one of three inner city schools that was classified as excess by the HWDSB (Hamilton Wentworth District School Board). The newly built Bernie Curtis High School will now service the kids in the Crown Point neighborhood.
The first phase of the property disposition enables the city and other agencies to submit a bona fide offer within 180 days. This can include candidates such as City Housing, McMaster University, Mohawk College, etc. to take over the property. On Feb 24, the school board trustees approved the move into the second stage as no offers were made. Now the property can be put up on sale in the open market. This is great news overall for the Crown Point neighbourhood, specifically the Main Street corridor between Gage and Kenilworth. Currently there are several boarded up and underutilized storefront properties along this corridor. What’s more interesting is that this stretch intersects with Ottawa St. In 2001, Ottawa St. was identified as one of the 13 BIA (business improvement area). The area identified by the city starts at Main St. and ends at Barton St. The Delta High School sits on 2.5-hectare property. With the $7 million purchase price and heritage designation – only a handful of investments and/or developments make sense for this property. One of the most practical uses would be to turn it into condominiums and/or co-working spaces. Currently the property is zoned I2 (community institutional) and will require amendment if the buyer chooses to change property use. The Hamilton LRT was supposed to go through the Delta High School with stops at Kenilworth and Ottawa street crossings. Although the LRT project has been shut down, the B-Line bus still operates in this corridor and currently has one of the highest ridership in Hamilton.
So, what does it mean to investors? This change will help gentrify the area further – Jan 2020 results from RAHB (Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington) showed the average selling price in Hamilton East at $434k, which is slightly higher than the 2019 FY average. This area has one of the lowest valuations in Hamilton; second to Hamilton Center. The average selling price doesn’t always tell us the whole story but definitely an indicator of the activity within a specific area. If you have not read my blog on Brock University, I highly recommend it. The Brock University campus is in walking proximity of the Delta High School. Being the first in the market prior to development announcements has advantages but comes at a risk. If you do your due diligence, then you can mitigate some of that risk. In the case of Delta High School, knowing that the property will now be selling in the open market and protected under the heritage society creates opportunities for investors. In contrast, if the property was still in first stage of the disposition, we might be more concerned. For example if City Housing decided to take advantage of this opportunity then we might see an unfavorable impact on house prices in the area. It will be several years before we see any changes at the site; mostly due to the time it takes for the purchase, approvals, and development however we are optimistic that this change will have a positive effect on the neighborhood.
Fun Fact: In 2017, several classmates dug up a time capsule they buried after 50 years at Delta High School. In 1967, when the time capsule was buried, the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup and Ti-Cats won the Grey Cup. The classmates took out their memorabilia including coins that were over 150 years old.
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