Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gobsmacked = Me.

The accompanying graphic is the back cover of this month's issue of urbanicity.

And when I was at Jet this morning for breakfast and finally got to it...

...I sat there and stared.

'Queer juxtaposition' came to mind.

'Hilariously ironic' came to mind.

And, as the title of this post says, 'gobsmacked' came to mind...and I became it.

It's not a biggee, I'm not criticizing Martinus for having Jackson Square (Yale) as an advertiser, nothing like that. It's just...

Well, the tenor of 'some' of its contributors is such that Jackson Square represents the worst mistake the City of Hamilton ever made, development-wise. (Oh, the screeds I could point you to... The funny thing is that almost to a one, none are old enough to remember any of it in-person.) So to have the entire back page paid for by this 'débacle-of-débacles' seemed a bit...well, rich.

All of this got me thinking about how things would have been if one, two or all of the following had happened:

-The overall design of Jackson Square hadn't been so utterly botched. (Best explored by the paper 'The Facelift and The Wrecking Ball'.) Had it cleaved more closely to the original 'Civic Square' design, had it not become a concrete monstrosity, had the streetwall been so arbitrarily and arrogantly enacted (hand-in-hand with the south side of King not having mirrored this approach) so as create an inhospitable environment, one non-conducive to authentic 'downtown' experiences.

-Even if it had been built this way, if the City had possessed the forethought and understanding regarding the implications of Stelco Tower going away and the cumulative impact this (combined with the arrival on the scene of Limeridge, Eastgate, Oakville Place and Mapleview) would have on the downtown. And acted. (Instead of effecting more sprawl.)

-Vic Copps' prophetic words regarding the utter importance of the need to focus on development from James east to Wellington once Jackson Square had been completed had been listened to and afforded the credence they deserved. 

And so here we are, forty years after the mall's Phase One opening...with this ad. 

I believe Jackson Square/Hamilton City Centre needs to be re-imagined. Just as it was re-imagined downwards as its main customers then anchor tenants jumped ship. I believe it needs the kind of makeover that all other area malls have gone through. (And not in the sense of temporarily accommodating the Farmers' Market.) 

I have no idea if Yale possess the kind of chutzpah necessary to do what I'm suggesting, whether or not they've developed a long-term, revitalizing strategy possessed of vision, faith and synergistic thinking incorporating the anticipated potential of the downtown-core,...or merely one that befits Hamilton's inner-city tendencies. ('too little, too late')

But I do know that considering that I made a living in that mall for two different employers and that my mom worked at both ends of the property over the course of twenty years, I have to admit that staring at the ad provided me with at least a little bemusement. Of the head-aslant sort, but still... 

So here's to hoping that Jackson Square has something to celebrate not necessarily in another forty years, but ten. Yeah; I'd settle for that. 

M Adrian Brassington

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I'm always interested in feedback, differing opinions, even contrarian long as they're delivered with decorum...with panache and flair always helping.