The Ken Soble Tower at 500 MacNab St. N. is being transformed through a major retrofit into best in class affordable housing. This project will bring together innovations in ultra-low energy retrofit, financing, and community benefit.

Project Rationale

Built in 1967, the Ken Soble Tower is the oldest high-rise multi-residential building in CHH’s portfolio and has been in decline for several years. After a study of several options, including sale, rebuild, capital repair and rehabilitation, CHH has determined that rehabilitation is the preferred approach to revitalizing the site. In addition to being an excellent candidate for retrofit, at a fraction of the cost of rebuilding, the tower is a landmark in the West Harbour and its transformation will allow CHH to continue to provide affordable housing for a neighbourhood undergoing change.

Energy Innovation

The Ken Soble Tower will be North America’s first Passive House high-rise retrofit.  Passive House buildings have ultra-low energy demands, eliminating dependence on fossil fuels for heating and cooling, while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Ken Soble Tower will be designed to meet the EnerPHit standard, developed by the Passive House Institute and geared to retrofits. This retrofit will provide residents with improved comfort, health, and control of their indoor environments, while radically reducing the environmental footprint of the building.  Following rehabilitation, the Ken Soble Tower will be a model for housing quality and energy performance for thousands of postwar apartment towers across the country. 

Financial Innovation

Significant reductions to operating budgets, both from the construction debenture being paid out and dramatically reduced utility expenses post-retrofit, allow for upfront capital to be leveraged to finance the construction project. These capital requirements will be generated by repositioning the building to enable enhanced debt capacity, a strategy complemented by critical grant support from government partners. The ability to service debt, operations, and replacement reserve post-rehabilitation will be enabled by a new revenue model that provides an operating surplus.

Community Benefit Innovation

The tower has accumulated deferred maintenance to the point of becoming in disrepair, carrying a significant capital deficit. With a City of Hamilton waitlist of over 6,000 households, it is urgent that this housing asset is brought back online. The Ken Soble Tower rehabilitation will reinstate 146 best in class units geared to senior citizens within a transformed building, alongside comprehensive accessibility and community amenity upgrades. The rehabilitated building will have enhanced common areas, including the creation of a new penthouse community cooling room. Community partners offering key services will be provided access to a portion of the ground floor.