In a landmark decision, Hamilton City Council has voted to proceed with a $400M+ redevelopment of the city's entertainment facilities – an ambitious venture in which Gowling WLG continues to play an important role.
The redevelopment plan was first pitched earlier this year by the Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (the Precinct Group), a forward-thinking private sector consortium comprising LiUNA, Fengate Capital, Meridian Credit Union, The Paletta Group, and Carmen's Group.
The plan itself aims to revitalize Hamilton's downtown core by investing in thoughtfully designed arts, entertainment, sports, residential, commercial and mixed-use properties. This includes a modernized arena, investment in a "right-sized" convention centre and concert hall, significant investment in the Art Gallery of Hamilton, as well as new residential, affordable housing, office and retail space development.
"The Precinct Group's proposed revitalization plan lays the foundation for a world-class entertainment precinct right in the heart of downtown Hamilton that will drive additional tourism and serve as a premier sports, entertainment, and cultural centre for all Hamiltonians," said Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger in Friday's announcement.
Gowling WLG, the Precinct Group's legal services provider, 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 essential 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, led a team that did far more than provide legal services, but was in fact instrumental in the negotiations themselves. In addition to Green and Frapporti, this team included Michelle Chiaravalloti, law clerk; Travis Evens, associate; Peter Gross, partner; and Julia Sjaarda, in-house land use planner.
During this period, Green worked with the group to put forward a proposal that is both visionary and achievable, and that aligns with the City's goals and values.
"We worked closely with this consortium to develop the proposal in a way that will help to address some of the big challenges faced by municipalities everywhere," Green explains. "From increasing affordable housing and employment opportunities to helping Hamilton attract new investment, the plan promises to catalyze the revitalization of Hamilton's downtown core across multiple fronts."
In addition to taking on all capital costs for the renewal of the City's entertainment facilities, the Precinct Group would take over responsibility for the operations and maintenance of the FirstOntario Centre, FirstOntario Concert Hall, and the Hamilton Convention Centre for the foreseeable future, without any monetary contribution from the City. That shift alone is expected to save Hamilton taxpayers $155M over the next 30 years.
"We're thrilled to be driving the transformation and modernization of Hamilton's entertainment assets, creating a first-class guest experience in the urban centre of the Greater Hamilton area," says PJ Mercanti, president of the Precinct Group and CEO of Carmen's Group. "The support of Lou, Pam and the whole Gowling WLG team was indispensable in bringing this across the finish line, and we look forward to continuing this partnership as we help Hamilton reach its full potential."
The successful completion of this complex agreement between the Precinct Group and the City is a testament to the power of collaboration in building on the momentum of Hamilton's commercial renaissance. It is also a clear demonstration that there are many who share our vision of a prosperous, vibrant Hamilton.
"On behalf of my brothers Paul and Michael, The Paletta Group is very excited to assume a greater role in the helping to architect Hamilton's future. All the Paletta brothers were born in Hamilton hospitals, and with the leadership and encouragement of our late father Pasquale and our mother Anita, our family has been part of Hamilton's growth and community since 1951," said Angelo Paletta. "We'd like to express our appreciation to Gowling WLG Hamilton for its role in introducing us to this opportunity and in working with us and other consortium partners to successfully achieve this critical milestone."
Robert Neufeld, regional vice president, Hamilton Business Banking Centre, Meridian, was equally enthused about the project: "Meridian is proud to be a partner in the Precinct Group. As a local business and community partner, we share the Precinct Group's vision to transform Hamilton's downtown core in a way that creates positive impact for both businesses and residents alike."
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