Wow! I hope this gets support from the community. It will be a big draw to downtown Burlington and definitely liven up the area. (Not that it needs it, but help is always good)Four cornerstones
The Hamilton Spectator
BURLINGTON (Jul 10, 2007)
An artist's rendering of the proposed McMaster campus for downtown Burlington.
City politicians in Burlington are expected to take their next cautious step tonight toward teaming up with McMaster University to build a new satellite campus on the site of a downtown parking lot.
Members of the community and corporate services committee will be balancing the ambitious plan and its potential to build prestige and business for the core against concerns over its impact on downtown parking and finding the money for the city's $10-million share of the project.
Already an aggressive early schedule that would have seen the campus open in time for the 2009 school year has been pushed back to 2010, as the two large and previously unconnected public institutions move slowly and carefully toward their first partnership -- with a final decision expected by December.
Tonight, Burlington councillors will discuss four cornerstones for moving the plan forward:
1) Confirming officially that the preferred site is the city lot at Elizabeth and Pine Streets, one block east of Brant Street.
2) That the capacity of the existing parking lot and parking for the building -- a total of 450 to 500 spaces -- will be accommodated below ground, for practical and esthetic reasons.
3) That a specially dedicated team of managers and politicians will negotiate outstanding issues with their counterparts from McMaster and bring back decisions for council approval as they come up. Those issues include who would own the building and how it would be managed.
4) That the city's transit terminal next to the site be integrated into the new structure.
The building itself would be as much as 10 storeys high, with the university occupying five floors and the rest being reserved for public and commercial space in an architecturally significant design.
Burlington has committed $10 million in principle to the project, but it has yet to finalize how it would raise the money -- a decision it will need to reach before it finalizes its 2008 capital spending plans. Those plans are already loaded with the tax burden of a long-planned performing arts centre, among other projects.
From its end, McMaster's board of governors voted last month to approve the project in principle -- a formality to keep the university in step with the city, and which also permits McMaster to raise money for its share of the $35-million project.
Days after the university took that step, McMaster announced that Tim Hortons entrepreneur Ron Joyce was donating $10 million toward the project. The university's final approval is contingent on an external review by independent experts who will determine if its financial model is viable.
The Burlington campus, if built, will be occupied primarily by McMaster's DeGroote School of Business, which would operate graduate-level and executive programs there. One reason Burlington is seen as a preferred location is that the campus would put students close to executive-level restaurants, hotels and other amenities.
The university's medical school would also operate a family health centre there, similar in concept but smaller in scale than one it also hopes to open in downtown Hamilton.
Burlington is also studying the potential impact of the campus on downtown traffic and parking