The waterfront building located on Pier 8 known as the Discovery Centre has had a rough decade, to say the least.
Ever since Parks Canada opened the centre in 2004 as part of an effort to draw people to the waterfront, the building constantly struggled to hit its annual visitor targets. This culminated to the closure of the Discovery Centre in 2010 where Parks Canada transferred property management of the facility to the Hamilton Waterfront Trust, which is an arm’s-length city organization.
2012 saw the opening of Sarcoa at the former Discovery Centre; a high-end restaurant with arguably the best patio view in the entire city. However, just three years after its launch the restaurant filed a $15 million lawsuit against the Hamilton Waterfront Trust.
Sarcoa was back in the news in 2015 and 2016 as the number of complaints from neighbours in the North End due to the restaurant’s loud patio music was reaching peak ridiculousness.
Then in the summer of 2017, Sarcoa posted on their doors that they’d failed to pay over $200,000 in rent in addition to other contract breaches at which point the Trust then terminated Sarcoa’s 20 year sub-lease. The restaurant started auctioning off all of their furniture, fixtures and equipment shortly after.
We’ve now come to learn on Wednesday that council voted to buy out the 45-year lease of the former Discovery Centre and its parking lots for $3 million, which is to be paid in annual installments.
Now the city will try to sell it themselves in an effort to have the lands be part of the Pier 8 redevelopment where condos, commercial space, and parks will reimagine the historic pier.
The Hamilton Waterfront Trust will continue to run public harbour amenities like the popular rollerblade and skating rink, Scoops ice cream parlour, and trolley service.
It’s too early to tell how this will affect the planning of the new waterfront redevelopment but seeing as the Discovery Centre is an integral corner of the pier, having the city be in charge will likely create a better outcome for the project.