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How Hamilton's community improvement plan is creating opportunities

Posted by Greg Chew on Jan 16, 2015 4:30:00 PM

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes


Community Improvement Plans (CIP) provide a variety of financial incentive programs to encourage development/redevelopment in key areas. As part of an ongoing series, I will be assessing the CIPs of specific areas within the Greater Horseshoe. The series will begin with an overview of the community improvement plan for downtown Hamilton, Ontario.

The City of Hamilton has several different programs in place to provide developers with incentives to restore/renovate or build new in areas where there are under-performing properties. These programs include grants, low interest loans, reduced development charges and incremental tax reductions.


Hamilton helping to improve

(ERASE) Environmental Remediation and Site Enhancement is a CIP that offers financial incentive programs in the form of loans and grants with regards to development/redevelopment in the Hamilton area. The plan is designed to minimize brownfields, underdeveloped or previously developed properties that may be contaminated, with financial incentives dedicated to encourage cleaning up and replacing them with productive economic land uses. This provides greater economic opportunities within the City of Hamilton.

The downtown area of Hamilton represents a component of ERASE and encompasses its own program: The Hamilton Downtown/West Harbourfront Remediation Loan Program (RLP). The program was developed to stimulate both residential and commercial development and redevelopment of properties in the downtown and west harbourfront areas. The RLP program financial assistance involves a low interest loan equal to 80% of the cost of remediating a property, with a maximum of $400,000 per project.

Focusing on the downtown area

Working in conjunction with ERASE is the Downtown Hamilton Community Improvement Plan (CIP). The CIP and ERASE overlap, both drawing from the same tax-increment dollar to pay grants. However, the CIP provides a narrow focus for the downtown core and provides a series of loans and grant programs for property owners to encourage new residential and commercial development in the downtown core of the City of Hamilton. The plan includes: Hamilton Downtown Residential Loan Program, Commercial Property Improvement Grant Program, and the Hamilton Downtown Property Improvement Grant Program. With the CIP, defined areas of the downtown area see municipal development charges reduced by 90%.

Providing a commercial focus

1. The Commercial Facade Property Improvement Grant Program

The program aims to improve the physical appearance of properties within the downtown area and the maximum grant amount will paid on a matching basis to a maximum of $10,000 per property. Corner properties will receive an additional grant of $2,500.

2. Office Tenancy Assistance Program

The program's focus is to attract new office tenants and owner-occupied office uses from outside the city. The program provides a low interest loan to building owners or tenants to support eligible leasehold improvements to office buildings within the downtown core. There is a maximum of $450,000 per application.

3. Hamilton Tax Increment Grant Program

Involves the development or redevelopment of both residential and commercial land and buildings in downtown Hamilton. The program involves a five year grant to offset any increases in property taxes caused by the redevelopment and increased assessment of the value of the property in an amount not exceeding the increase in municipal realty taxes. The grant is not to exceed 100 percent of the municipal realty tax increase during the first year, 80 percent in the second year, 60 percent in the third year, 40 percent in the fourth year and 20 percent in the fifth year.

With a wide range of incentive programs in place, the City of Hamilton is committed to development and redevelopment in the downtown area. Connect with me if you are looking for more information on the development advantages and opportunities within downtown Hamilton.

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Topics: Commercial real estate investment, CIP

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