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‘It’s frustrating’: Hamilton City Centre mall closing for good

After the holidays, Hamilton City Centre will officially close its doors to the public for the very last time – but until then, it’s getting a very warm send-off.

On Nov. 19, the mall’s white and pastel hallways were once again filled with vendors, shoppers and community members as they gathered for Hamilton Flea’s takeover of the space. The event was officially dubbed the ‘Hamilton City Centre Celebration’ – an informal celebration of life for the dying location.

Hamilton City Centre has stood on the corner of James Street and York Boulevard for over 30 years. Once a hub of retail and entertainment in the 80s and 90s, recent years have seen the space turn into a frozen-in-time reminder of Hamilton’s past. Very few vendors remain in the mall, leaving the building’s long white halls, set with grandiose archways and iconic pastel tiles, mostly empty.

In 2019, the space was purchased by IN8 Developments, which plans to demolish the mall and build four residential towers with commercial space. Construction is set to begin by February, giving the mall’s remaining storeowners until Jan. 10 to vacate the building.

The event kicked off with a group power walk around the mall’s upper levels. Afterwards, attendees made their way down to the bottom floor to watch a vintage-inspired fashion show and shop from over 30 local vendors.

“This space is meant to be enjoyed this way,” read a statement from Hamilton Flea organizers Whitney and Erika McMeekin. “It was built to hold this large group of excited attendees, it was planned to be a space you can come to shop or just hang out, it was meant to be appreciated.”

While the halls of Hamilton City Centre were filled with the echoes of laughter and music – paying homage to the way the mall used to be – the tone of the day was bittersweet as people said goodbye to the iconic space.

“I’m sad to see [the mall] go,” Hamilton resident Chelsea Henderson said. “It’s a gorgeous space, and I have memories here from when I was a kid, so I still like to visit – just to walk around and appreciate.”

“I’m happy to be here and I’m grateful for the event, but it’s frustrating,” she added. “Hamilton keeps losing spaces like this in favour of condos that no one can afford. It’s happened all over the downtown core. They’re calling it revitalization but for anyone who remembers what Hamilton used to look like, we know it’s gentrification.”

By 5:00 p.m. most of the vendors had begun packing up their stands, but the party didn’t stop. The remaining event-goers danced away their goodbye blues at an 80s- and 90s-themed dance party held at the long-abandoned HMV store – a perfect end to the day’s events.

Here are some other shopping centres in Hamilton you can check out:


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