85 Holton Ave South
85 Holton Avenue S & 679 Main Street E
Previously home to the former St. Giles Church
The congregation of New Vision United Church represents an amalgamation of two faith communities: St. Giles United Church and Centenary United Church. When two communities amalgamate, they are understood to continue within the newly amalgamated congregation. In other words, the congregation of St. Giles U.C. is part of New Vision U.C. No one knows, or cares, more deeply for the existing property than the members of New Vision U.C. It was one of their spiritual homes. This area has been home to the congregation since before the construction of the building in 1912 and the congregation continues to believe itself called to be present and to serve at this site. Our goal is affordable housing and our continuing presence in the place we have called home for over 100 years.
New Vision congregation at 24 Main St W
Formed in 2019, the United Property Resource Corporation (UPRC) was founded by the United Church of Canada and prioritizes the development of safe, stable, affordable housing and works in partnership with faith communities across the country – helping them reimagine their real estate for positive community impact and to meet community housing and social needs.
Our model invests profits back into the local community through the provision of affordable housing, community services, and congregation and neighbourhood programs.
UPRC has committed to delivering 5,000 affordable housing units nation-wide by 2037.
We also incorporate industry leading Net-Zero standards into our developments to help combat climate change.
What we heard
At a community Town Hall on February 11, 2021, you shared with us what you are hoping to see on this site.
New play structure.
In scale with the surrounding community.
Additional community green space.
Preserving Hamilton's heritage
More rental housing options in the community.
Off street/underground parking.
The recent history of
85 Holton Ave South
2012 + Earlier
The former St. Giles United Church recognizes that there are significant structural deficiencies at 85 Holton Ave S. Many of these vital repairs are outside of the operations budget, including repairs to the balcony, which is no longer accessible due to structural failure. The Chapel is also unusable due to water damage from the roof and a number of subsequent activity rooms are vacant due to mold or pre-existing hazardous materials on site.
New Vision establishes the desire to maintain ownership of the 85 Holton Ave site while planning for its future use through the lens of greater social purpose.
In 2013, the former St. Giles United Church (85 Holton Ave S) and Centenary United Church (24 Main St W) began working together to explore joint ministry opportunities that would help address rising concerns around a decrease in central funding & volunteer capacity and overwhelming increase in building related expenses.
In 2013, capital budgets were completed in cooperation with Edison Engineers to assess the long-term viability of the church remaining in each location. The 85 Holton Ave S building was in much worse repair than the 24 Main W building.
In 2014, the former St. Giles congregation merged with the former Centenary United congregation to form the New Vision United Church at 24 Main Street W.
New Vision United Church began exploring options for redevelopment with the community, Ward Councillor, and developers. During a community round table meeting, New Vision heard that affordable, mixed-income, housing was a key priority from the local community.
During this time, New Vision worked with a number of developers who presented proposals that incorporated strata housing (i.e., high rise condominiums), and the potential to retain the former St. Giles United Church. New Vision deemed condominiums to be an unsuitable use for this site, since it is not aligned with their commitment to affordable rental housing.
In 2016, the City of Hamilton approached New Vision about renovating 24 Main St W's former sanctuary into a community music venue to help to fill the cultural infrastructure gap in Hamilton. New Vision is pursuing this renovation, which limits the ability of 24 Main St W to redevelop and making 85 Holton Ave S an important site for the delivery of much needed housing.
In April, New Vision United Church submitted a demolition permit application to the City
In June, an auction was held with over 500 items up for purchase including stained-glass windows, light fixtures, furniture, and various wood elements such as doors.
On July 10, Council turned down a recommendation to designate the property under the Ontario Heritage Act. Council is aware of New Vision United Church’s commitment to the preservation and protection of 24 Main St W (built in 1868).
The private developer who was working with New Vision United Church in 2018 did not continue with the project.
UPRC commenced work to identify redevelopment options for the site and is working with a full project team that includes experts in heritage conservation and building retrofit. UPRC is also committed to the preservation and protection of 24 Main St W.
In February, the demolition permit application was closed by the City due to inactivity even though a Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment (CHIA) and community consultations were being undertaken. New Vision & UPRC reached out to the Building Division to renew the permit but was advised that as the City’s database does not allow an application to be renewed, the best approach was to submit a second application. A second demolition permit application was submitted on April 1, 2021.
On April 6, the Planning Committee passed a motion recommending Council pursue a heritage designation for the site. Ward Councillor Nann asked UPRC to undertake public consultation and present three options for the site before bringing this item back to Planning Committee in mid-June 2021.
The vision for the future of
85 Holton Ave South
The vision for the site is to transform it into a 100% rental housing project with a mixed-income model - providing both market rental and below-market rental housing options, in building form that is compliments the surrounding community.
Approximately 30% of the homes will be affordable (rented at 80% median-market rental, which equates to approximately 50% of the price of a market rental) and we will work with Hamilton Housing to explore additional opportunities for increased affordability.
A new playground and community garden is proposed to be incorporated on site and will be accessible to the public.
The addition of new community/commercial space to support current and future residents of the Gibson neighbourhood.
The development will have a focus on environmental sustainability including construction out of mass timber to passive house standards, a commitment to zero on-site carbon, and incorporation of geothermal.
The restoration, rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance of the historic 24 Main St W building is proposed to be partially funded by the operating revenue of the rental housing on the St Giles site. Preservation of 24 Main St W also ensures the continuation and enhancement of cultural programming.