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Building renovations a sign of changing times on Barton Street

Posted: February 3, 2017

Former Hendry’s Shoes building being rebuilt from the inside out

By Adam Carter, CBC News Posted: Feb 01, 2017 9:51 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 01, 2017 10:38 AM ET

Greg Clewer (left) and Tyler Pearson (right) say their new residential development on Barton Street East is about a month away from being finished. (Adam Carter/CBC)

When Greg Clewer and Tyler Pearson bought the old Hendry’s Shoes building last July, it had fallen into the kind of disrepair that has been all too common on Barton Street East.

There was graffiti everywhere, sprayed over the walls. Drug paraphernalia was strewn throughout the building’s bottom floor, and in the derelict apartments upstairs.

“It was, for lack of a better word, used as a crack house,” said Clewer.

​But that’s changing. Clewer, with his managing partner Pearson from Malleum Partners, are about a month away from renovating the building’s upstairs units, with an eye for commercial spaces downstairs (hopefully) come spring.

The two are convinced there is life in Barton Street East, and see it as a hub ripe for revitalization, like James Street North in Hamilton, or the Ossington strip in Toronto. And their project on Barton, just west of Sherman, is one of two on the street that are up for grants at city hall today.

Soon, this building on Barton, just west of Sherman, will no longer look like this. These sections are being gutted. (Adam Carter/CBC)

“We saw an opportunity to completely revitalize the building,” Clewer said. “There will be brand new units, which is sorely lacking in this part of town.”

Hendry’s was once a Hamilton staple, having opened in 1928 and lasting over eighty years. The business shut its doors in 2009, going the way of other independent local shoe stores like the former Woolcott’s Shoes on Concession Street.

Clewer and Pearson have stripped the building right to its bones, and rebuilt the insides from the brick walls out. It’s a jarring change of scenery to walk out of a staircase that looks like a set piece for a post-apocalyptic film and into a bright, freshly painted room, mid-construction.

The pair has applied for a city grant of just over $44,000, as well as a $120,000 loan, which they say would be used to offset construction costs.

The building’s six residential units are about a month away from being finished. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The first phase of the project is the six residential, 1,000 square foot units on the top floors, with further plans for three commercial spaces on the ground floor.

The current assessed value of the property tops out at $213,000, but redevelopment should bump that up to around $600,000, the city says.

Both Clewer and Pearson know the Barton area has had its problems. There are long-untouched storefronts in the area that once held vibrant businesses, and large swaths of neighbourhood stores are empty.

This property at at 374 Barton Street East is also up for a Barton/Kenilworth tax increment grant program grant that’s estimated at just over $37,000. (City of Hamilton)

But their vision seems to fit in with the city’s Barton-Tiffany redevelopment plan, which includes a sweeping re-imagining of the area. And theirs isn’t the only one — other developments are starting to spring up, too.

Both men have recently moved to the Hamilton area, and say they see real promise in what’s happening here.

Their company name — Malleum Partners — is even a little nod to the city. Malleum stems from the Latin word Malleus, which means “hammer.”

“We’re definitely all in,” Pearson said.

A second development looking to access the city tax incentives for the area is for a vacant building at 374 Barton Street East.

The $750,000 renovation in that property would turn the building into six residential units on the upper floors and commercial space at street level.

The city says the proposed redevelopment will increase the assessed value of the property from roughly $90,000 to approximately $500,000.


With files from Paul Wilson