Your Feedback: Potential New Downtown Condo Development

One of the most important debates we are going to have as a community this year will centre on condominium development proposals and what these will mean for the future of our downtown skyline. To help get this community conversation going, I’d like your opinion on a proposal by Homestead Land Holdings that is expected to come forward at the February 18 Planning Committee meeting. The Homestead proposal is for two 20-story condo towers along Queen Street.

Here is a drawing of the first proposed condominium tower and office building complex that would be located on Queen Street between Ontario and King Streets (where there is currently a surface parking lot).

Homestead - 1

Here is a drawing of the second proposed condominium tower that would be located next to the Goodlife Fitness building at the corner of Queen and Wellington Streets (also currently a surface parking lot). Note that the four story red and white brick building, seen on the right hand side of the image below, is a proposed parking garage half of which would be for public parking use in the downtown.

Homestead - 2

To get an idea of what the developments might look like from the street, here is an image of the street view looking up Queen Street from the intersection of Queen and Ontario Streets.

Homestead - 3

And finally here is the street view looking down Queen Street towards the water.

Homestead - 4

So, what do you think?

[polldaddy poll=9288964]

31 Responses

  1. Randy says:

    To keep and bring the downtown alive you need people and people need places to live.

  2. Brian Reitzel says:

    This is a beautiful project that blends the modern architecture into the skyline while maintaining a streetscape in keeping with Kingston’s charm. This is an example of where “History and Innovation Thrive”.

  3. Chloe says:

    You better ensure that for every one parking space you remove, you replace with two more, otherwise you will slowly kill downtown.

  4. James L. says:

    I am all for the densification of downtown however I am concerned about the use of surface parking lots to achieve this. The lack of parking downtown is already at a premium during high volume times and further limiting the spaces available will discourage people from coming downtown.

    I’m sure that these buildings will be built with underground parking for their tenants but that will not solve the loss of 100’s of spaces for people who live outside of the downtown core.

    With the continued densification of downtown the planning committee needs to consider a city run, multi level parking garage. Yes they are not as “sexy” as a new building but the spaces are needed.

    Thank you.

  5. Amy Bello says:

    This is absolutely terrible. It’s just one more step toward destroying the downtown core by adding more and more high-rise buildings. It’s the quaintness of this city that makes it a draw. We do not want to be Toronto or Ottawa Jr. This is a small city with a fantastic, historic downtown. Don’t ruin it. No more high rise buildings.

  6. Valerie says:

    How many parking spots overall would be compromised with this proposal? Parking is an issue downtown. With two of our largest parking lots being removed, this is concerning. Yes you are adding a parking garage with half being available to the public, but will those total number of public parking garage spots be less, equal to, or greater than the total number of spots currently in those lots?

  7. As I understand it, the Homestead proposal is not condominiums, they are apartments. I am not apposed to apartments, but let’s make sure we call it what it really is. Also, I think it is important to look at the composition of the units within a building: larger square footages allow for families to live in the downtown. Most developments are one or two bedroom and a small square footage.

  8. ERJ says:

    I like the idea of more accommodations downtown to encourage growth where walking and public transportation would grow. I would have voted as “strongly agree” but I have concerns about the height and can people afford to live in these buildings/fill them up. I would hope that the vision is one for the benefit of the community and our efforts to become more sustainable. There is a sense that developers lately have dictated the design and growth of our neighborhoods rather than coming from a long term vision that is based on the right plan for the future of our community (and not the pockets of developers). Thank you for engaging the public.

  9. Ted Brooks says:

    I believe that holmested condos should have more than 4 floors of parking. They need to go 3-4 stories underground not just one.

  10. I have one huge problem with both of these designs – street level dead space.
    Please ensure that there is commercial space for businesses on all street fronts.
    Otherwise the streets are totally dead – like Ontario St. That was a mistake. Let’s not repeat it.
    With increased population there will be a real need for more stores.

  11. Graham Lodge says:

    We have an Official Plan that sets limits on the heights of buildings in the downtown area. Citizens should be able to have confidence that these height limits were enacted based on sound planning principles that benefit the City of Kingston including the downtown business community, citizens of Kingston and the many tourists and visitors that come to the City. There should be no ad hoc major exceptions to the height limits without undergoing a comprehensive planning process. The above visual representations are totally insufficient to develop an informed opinion. Let’s get away from developing Kingston based on greed and spin as we have too often done in the past.

  12. Kingston is not Toronto, nor should it as a small city try to emulate the vast sea of high-rise buildings in that city’s downtown. We should instead try to follow the example of Markham Village Heritage Conservation District that has been faced with much the same choices and taken a different, more sympathetic path.

    BTW: The correct spelling is “storey”, rather than “story” (the American spelling).

  13. C.n.Patterson says:

    Most urban cities today, especially those with small historical downtown cores, have realized their potential for economic growth lies in tourism not cement. With the lower Canadian dollar and tourism becoming a focus, Kingston’s main attraction lies in within its amazing historical content; this has always been its strong potential, not the basic idea that condos on main streets and waterfronts are the only resource. Although it’s important to maintain the urban core, most cities who have used this condo solution have found themselves with a host of other problems, including infrastructural issues, increase in traffic (& not on foot), and parking to name a few. Most people who live in condos do not shop in the downtown because like other condo saturated cores, there’s no where left to purchase simple household goods and the larger box stores become the preferred cheaper choice. I understand the tax revenue a super structure like this might create and the economic format you believe this would develop. However, I believe this development lacks insight, ingenuity and foresight. Kingston Mayor and Council, you can do better.

  14. Gayle Dawdy says:

    I like the idea of the condos downtown, as it may boost downtown retail business. However, we need to clean up Queen Street and some of the side streets, maybe the condos will help with some of the issues. AND we need more affordable retail space downtown to entice tourists and Kingstonians downtown. PARKING is definitely an issue.

  15. megood2014 says:

    In order to gauge the results of this poll more information is needed. The first most important piece of information that is needed at this early stage of polling is how many people voted. That should be an easy fix to the page. Can the page be modified to include that information. We also need to know how this poll was distributed, advertised etc, without this sort of information I’m not sure this poll or any poll conducted in this fashion has much weight. As a community I think it is time we took a hard look at how information/data is collected and analyzed when discussing these very important projects.

  16. Kody A. Paul says:

    Obviously the concern is parking. Parking was a concern with placement of K-Rock Centre,
    continued to be a concern for merchants and restaurants downtown (a downtown that is surviving but struggling of late), and now, with Homestead’s proposal, we’re losing two of the main parking lots with no explanation of what’s to replace them. The transparency of involving the public in the upcoming decision is appreciated, but rather than those cute little graphics about what the street view looks like, I would like to know where the remaining patrons of local businesses (businesses being asphyxiated by rent/square footage and construction) are going to park.

    Or do we say to hell with Kingston’s merchant middle class? I hope not.

    K. A. Paul

  17. Allen Sutherland says:

    The city must evolve into the 21st century.

  18. Sharron Wainman says:

    I am not against change or the idea of ‘densification’, but think that the thing that is most appealing about Kingston is its historic look. Buildings of this height will destroy the historic appeal of our downtown.

  19. H says:

    I think there should be limits to the height of the buildings, I’m not opposed to condos just the height.

  20. Christopher Laffin says:

    It is too high. We’ll feel dwarfed by the buildings. If they are seven stories high you can still call up to a balcony or down to the street. Higher than that and the building becomes impersonal and dominating. You don’t see a rendering of the street when the sun is behind the buildings, which would cast a huge shadow.

  21. Lynann Clapham says:

    Too high! I’m in favour of downtown development but these high, blocky buildings are ugly and do not foster a sense of community. Higher than 7 stories is too high. The biggest scar on the downtown landscape is Princess towers. Give it a few years and this will be princess towers ll. Shorten it…. Give it some creativity. Make it something that LOOKS like Kingston. If the downtown ceases to be attractive then nobody will want to live there, and we can say goodbye to the tourists as well.

  22. elsalvaterra says:

    I have some concerns about how high it is. What will be the impact on the view from existing buildings (as opposed to the street)?

  23. Dorene Inglis says:

    perhaps a better poll would be those living in the ward where development would take place

  24. Steve says:

    My biggest concern is infrastructure to support the increased human and vehicular traffic that this will generate. I’d love to see more people downtown on a regular basis, but I think to facilitate that there must be better road access – the long-delayed Wellington St extension and another bridge across the canal are more obviously needed than ever.

  25. HALA ISMAIL says:

    Water front at Kingston need to be kept at the same High as other building to keep Kingston
    the beautiful city we know of.

  26. wthwing says:

    It is about time this ” old ” town move into the next Century!!

  27. Shirley Kirkwood says:

    Initial reaction on viewing is that it looks quite “unnatural”

  28. Elizabeth Hanson says:

    I am very concerned about these proposals. I live downtown and am all for densification, but these show a (really appalling) lack of understanding of what makes downtown space work. They are too tall, unrelated to the historical character of downtown and deadening with respect to street life. This last is hugely important: you need shops and texture at street level– and sunlight. The model promises an environment that you can find in suburbs all over North America, that is an environment supportive of cars and not conducive to walking, street life or real urban culture.

  29. My draft response to the proposed Homestead development at Queen and Wellington.

    It’s not as simple as building a big tower and filling it with people, hoping that they will be customers for stores downtown. It’s highly likely that these new residents will hop into their cars and drive out to the Rio-Can Centre.

    The question about downtown condo development is not as simple as “YES” or “NO”. Downtown condos are good, and they bring the potential to increase the numbers of shoppers to the downtown. But here are things to consider:
    As part of the development, there must be commercial and it should be along the Queen and Wellington street fronts excepting, of course, the required entrance and exit for the concealed parking. Commercial store frontage is vital because (a) it will attract shoppers who normally would not venture north of Princess Street (b) bring in net tax revenue, as opposed to residential, which is not as profitable for the city(c) be in conformity with the Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw which earmark the said lands for commercial use.
    Also, we must take care NOT to repeat the mistakes of the past. Based on the preliminary designs, there is a disconnect between the pedestrians on the sidewalk and the building itself. It appears somewhat raised and set back. A classic example of this approach is the Landmark condominium (picture attached). There have been attempts to have businesses in the commercial spots on the terrace but these attempts have failed. The reason – the terrace is raised and set back, so it is not welcoming to the public. On any given day, even a beautiful summer day, you seldom see anyone on the terrace. It is a wasted space and looks empty and bare.

    Another point – the proposed development should have an ATTRACTION. By that I mean something that will invite people from OUTSIDE the condominium community. For example, it could have a small open inner courtyard with a fountain, or a small waterfall. Around that space could be a couple of boutiques, cafes, etc. The space does not have to be big, and does not have to be a “green space”. It could be like a small enclosed piazza.
    Some examples of attractions downtown: The Chez Piggy courtyard, the rink behind City Hall in winter, the market in summer, Martello Alley. Lots of people visit these spots just to enjoy them and take pictures. The attract people to the downtown, and they are open and accessible all the time. The Downtown Kingston organization does a tremendous job organizing events, but we also need ATTRACTIONS. The difference? We don’t need to organize attractions – they are there all the time.
    Back in the seventies I remember going often to Hazelton Lanes in Yorkville in Toronto. It was mixed commercial/residential/hotel, and there was an open air courtyard that was just large enough to flood in the winter to make a skating rink. It was a people magnet, and it was so attractive it was in a Hollywood movie. Unfortunately a decision was made to cover the courtyard and convert it to an expansion of a cafeteria. Hazelton Lanes’ popularity as a destination fell quickly after that, and many of the stores folded or moved.
    Kingston is a great city, a place I was born in and where I have lived all my life. I try to do my best to give something back to the city that has been such a great place to live. That’s what is behind my latest endeavours – the public art displays, and Martello Alley. I want to help make this beautiful downtown vibrant.
    And I think that it’s great that developers are showing confidence in our downtown by investing. I wish them every success, and hope that their ventures will be financially rewarding. But at the same time I expect that in return, developers will provide something to the city that provides all of us with these opportunities. And I don’t mean “jobs” or “tax revenue” – I mean something tangible that everyone can enjoy.
    To sum up:
    1) We must have commercial along the street frontages to attract shoppers to areas north of Princess Street to expand the vital commercial tax base
    2) We need the structure to be open and inviting – therefore NOT raised and NOT set back
    3) We need an ATTRACTION for people who do not live in the development

  30. D. Black (downtown resident) says:

    I notice that there is no longer street parking on Queen. Second, the perspective of road width versus vehicles seems out of whack. Is it to be only one lane in either direction? Let’s have the builder provide parking alone and operate the parking garage, not city spaces paid with tax payers monies. If it is such a great or lucrative venture, let’s have individual investors purchase the parking spaces, separately or in blocks with no financial risk to the city.

    Related is the Capital project between Queen and Princess where only about 30% of the condos will have parking spots available in the complex but to be sure the mini-size will attract mostly students or non-resident rental owners …. hello air BnB which is actually like a hotel without the city receiving any hotel/business revenues.

  31. Bryan says:

    I strongly agree with this type of development. For the people who don’t want to see it, they lack vision.

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