The Imperial Cotton Centre for the Arts is located in the former Imperial Cotton factory. Built in 1900, as one of the first textile mills in Hamilton's early industrial history, the factory produced cotton tarps, tents, vehicle covers, and was a major production hub for military applications for WWI and WWII. The property served this function until the early 1980s when it was converted into a children's clothing manufacturer (Beauty Industries) and mixed industrial use property. In 2001, Beauty Industries closed its doors leaving the property approximately 80% vacant. The buildings form one of the most complete historic textile mill complexes in Canada. The complex has 5 main buildings, with more than 150,000 SF of mixed use floor space.
The building is surrounded by a mix of residential, light industrial and heavy industrial facilities. This area is still very much a part of Hamilton's working industrial heritage and the site is one of many stops on the Industrial Heritage Trail managed by the Workers Arts & Heritage Council.
The area was once a thriving retail district with stores and services on both Sherman and Barton Ave. contributing to the neighbourhood feel of the area. In the mid 1980's this area was forecasted to become the cultural centre of Hamilton with numerous developments receiving seed funding to renovate existing structures and launch organizations to head this movement.
Today Sherman Street has not undergone a successful revitalization similar to James St. N, or Ottawa Street, and none of the cultural developments that were planned have come to fruition.
The redevelopment of Brownfield developments is a priority for most post-industrial cities in North America. The North Eastern states and urban areas in the Windsor to Quebec City Corridor contain many such Brownfield developments.
Hamilton, because of its industrial economic base, has a great number of such buildings. As stated above, there is however significant cost associated with the clean-up and remediation of such facilities even before the buildings themselves can be renovated and return to usefulness.
There are many excellent examples of revitalized urban communities through successful remediation and renovation of former industrial sites. Major urban centres such as New York, Pittsburgh, Copenhagen and Monterey have successfully redefined whole neighbourhoods based on the revitalization of Brownfield sites.