On July 17, 2020, in a historic decision, Hamilton City Council announced that the City would move forward with the development plan from Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group L.P. (known as 'the Precinct Group') to deliver entertainment, culture, and renewed vitality to Hamilton's downtown core.
The Precinct Group is a private-sector consortium including LiUNA, Fengate Capital, Meridian Credit Union, The Paletta Group, and Carmen's Group. The Group's mission is to honour and enrich the communities it builds in with thoughtfully designed arts, entertainment, sports, residential, commercial and mixed-use properties.
The Precinct Group's plan for the City includes a $50 million renovation of FirstOntario Centre, over $16 million in capital upgrades to the existing Hamilton Convention Centre, FirstOntario Concert Hall and Art Gallery of Hamilton, and an estimated $340.5 million in auxiliary mixed-use development, including affordable housing to be included in any residential developments that stem from this initiative.
The Precinct Group will take on all capital costs for the renewal of the City's entertainment facilities. It will also take over responsibility for the operations and maintenance of the FirstOntario Centre and the FirstOntario Concert Hall for a period of 99 years and of the Hamilton Convention Centre indefinitely, without any monetary contribution from the City.
The elimination of the City's ongoing subsidization and capital commitments at its entertainment assets are expected to provide Hamilton taxpayers with $155 million in savings over the next 30 years.
Gowling WLG is counsel to the Precinct Group, having played an integral role in bringing both the consortium and the proposal to life. From the very beginning, the firm – through significant efforts of Louis Frapporti and others – was instrumental in bringing the right parties to the table to assemble and formally establish the consortium.
When discussions eventually began with the City in relation to the redevelopment proposals (from the Precinct Group and other private-sector proponents), Pamela Green, who oversees Gowling WLG Hamilton's Real Estate & Lending groups, along with Louis Frapporti and Travis Evens, led a team that did far more than provide legal services, but was in fact instrumental in the negotiations themselves. Other key members of the team included in-house land use planner Julia Sjaardo, municipal lawyer Peter Gross and law clerk Michelle Chiaravalloti.