BIGGER AND BETTER: URBANIZATION IN HAMILTON
A recent United Nations projection determined that by 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities. The tide of urbanization is inevitable, which is why it is vital that it be used as a means to create strong, sustainable communities. Cities must therefore ensure housing reflects the needs of the population: that employment opportunities are ample and accessible and that a collectivist approach is maintained with urban planning.
The advantages of urbanization are enormous. The process can provide solutions for many of our modern problems, such as unemployment, pollution, an aging population, social exclusion, and inefficient transportation. Already, Hamilton has been reaping the benefits of urbanization in some of its now booming areas: Jamesville has become an artist’s mecca; our downtown core has never been more diverse or more robust; across the city, SoBi bikes are available for use; and soon, we will have Light Rail Transit, a major step forward for this city’s green transportation initiative. As real estate professionals, it’s important to understand what drives the phenomenon of urbanization and how you can be part of the change in a positive way.
The Healthcare Sector
When we speak of healthcare, one should recall that the largest employer in our city is Hamilton Health Sciences. We as Hamiltonians are proud of the number of medical positions our city produces. We got the chance to connect with a director and PhD at McMaster University who insightfully answers the question “What is one major fact people should know about Hamilton’s health sector right now?” He explains, “Hamilton is booming because of the healthcare sector and, as a result, is becoming Toronto’s Brooklyn. We get lots of job inquiries because people from Toronto are interested in moving to Hamilton for the lower cost of living, higher quality of life, and easy public transportation to big city amenities when they want them.”
Undoubtedly, this new venture provides great incentive for serious, well-trained professionals to reside in Hamilton. With an influx of these professions comes a positive effect on the city’s real estate market. The condominium market in particular is expected to increase significantly as more and more qualified workers seek gainful employment in the area. Recent trends solidify this notion as single, urban, professionals in their middle adult years demand big city condos priced in the $400,000 range. Within this ideal, these singles are searching for buildings in appealing neighbourhoods, close to transit.
The Aging Population
Hamilton’s is an aging population, and as baby boomers enter retirement age, it is important that Hamilton’s downtown core be prepared for them. Hamilton has already begun the process of revamping its infrastructure to accommodate for these changes. If it’s not our newly added LRT route, it’s the city’s Smart Streets, which includes an overall design to: a) be shared by all modes of transportation; b) maximize safety for all uses; and, c) minimize life-cycle environmental impacts. In addition to the ongoing inclusive transportation changes, the city is in its primary stage of providing affordable housing in service–rich, dense neighbourhoods.
What does this Mean?
Whether you are an investor or builder, it is important to realize that the city will need to increase its number of both commercial and lifestyle components to catch the eye of the new urban dwellers. With this comes opportunity for the unique bar you’ve been thinking of, or that fresh bakery with a twist. Especially if these establishments are a short distance from the condominiums in the downtown core.
Other Factors to Consider
Tax Incentives – The trend of urbanization provides exciting possibilities for businesses to collaborate with the public sector. Sale of Land – Funding larger projects for the city creates new opportunity for investors to purchase land that otherwise would be harder to access. Densification – The increase in residential density in the downtown core is currently being expanded by the city, which also serves to expand Hamilton’s tax base.
Undoubtedly, people are driven by connection to opportunity and Hamilton has a strong connection with the surrounding area. Perfectly situated in terms of geography, possessing an increasingly strong workforce and boasting a surprising natural beauty, Hamilton is poised to be the Canadian city of the 21st century.
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