Maybe it takes somebody from out of town to dream big dreams and imagine a brighter future for downtown Hamilton. Too many locals seem to have given up. They've heard hucksters unveil plans for one grand redevelopment after another only to vanish into the night. But for the first time in a long while, something real seems to be starting and Harry Stinson is determined to be a big part of it.
Stinson has been called Toronto's answer to Donald Trump. The daring developer has soared on occasion, but he's also been known to crash and burn. His 35-year business career in Toronto began when Stinson opened the legendary Groaning Board Restaurant as a teenager, and ended with a lively lawsuit with David Mirvish over control of a luxury condo/hotel that they built together at 1 King St. West (at the corner of Yonge Street).
Stinson has now landed firmly in Hamilton with his partner, Linda Panning, and their seven-year-old daughter. They've purchased a nice home on fashionable Bull's Lane with a magnificent escarpment view of downtown Hamilton. And after circling his prey for a couple of months, Stinson's done his first big deal here.
He's just inked a $9.5-million contract to purchase the former Royal Connaught Hotel site. The agreement was secured with a $100,000 deposit and provides a 30-day conditional period for Stinson to secure financing. Stinson has conducted extensive discussions with potential private investors and is confident he will be able to raise the cash necessary to close the deal.