Downtown Hamilton office vacancies high

Support TNI Subscribe

Amid conversations about increased crime, high office vacancies another sign the downtown may be dwindling. Photo credit: My Main Street


Following high-profile conversations in the media and by Council regarding the state of crime in Hamilton’s downtown, new economic data that was presented to Hamilton Council appears to show that the area is having problems attracting/retaining businesses.

A city survey estimated that the office vacancy rate in Hamilton’s downtown is approximately 13 per cent, but that number does not take into account government offices.

Other reports estimate that the vacancy rate is likely closer to 25 per cent, with some individual buildings reportedly up to 75 per cent empty. 

The city data is also only accurate as of December 2022, so current numbers could also be higher.

The city says that the vacancy rate they have calculated is the highest since 2017.

The report comes as Hamilton Police recently announced the reintroduction of “park and walks” and a “Core Patrol” program to help try to curb reports of shoplifting, abusive language, assault of workers, car break-ins, aggressive panhandling, trespassing, loitering, drug dealing, drug use, robberies, and property damage reported by downtown businesses.

While the city notes that some of the vacancies can be attributed to the rise in remote work, the executive directors of Downtown Hamilton’s two Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) believe that a lack of safety is one of the main reasons why office vacancies are so high.

Office building landlords are also reporting that they have had to increase the amount they spend on security for their buildings, cutting into their budgets.

Amid the ongoing issues, Hamilton’s Economic Development Department released a seven-point plan to try to revitalize the downtown and address some of the key problems that businesses are facing.

The seven measures proposed are:

  • Create a staff liaison position to coordinate city departments within the downtown such as garbage collection and graffiti removal
  • Look at increasing loan amounts to assist with leasehold improvements for new office tenants
  • Provide grants to businesses that experience vandalism
  • Explore the possibility of converting empty offices into residential units
  • Enhance marketing of the downtown
  • Provide funding for more initiatives such as concerts and festivals and to cover outdoor patio program fees
  • Improve parking and promote active transportation such as walking and cycling

The recommendations were passed unanimously by City Council.

International Village BIA Susie Braithwaite says that the seven-point plan is a “great start” but that improving safety and parking will make the biggest difference.

It remains to be seen what office vacancy figures will indicate in the future, particularly since offices are still adjusting to changes spurred by the pandemic.

As far as the downtown is concerned, the area is also set to see two massive reconfigurations of its core streets, with both the two-way conversion of Main Street and the King Street LRT project set to begin soon.

While it is hoped that both projects will eventually help to revitalize the downtown, both construction processes are expected to disrupt business.

Your donations help us continue to deliver the news and commentary you want to read. Please consider donating today.

Support TNI


  • Politics

  • Sports

  • Business

  • Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap