Best of 2012: Heritage vs Development

Our final post from our Best of 2012 is a recent poll regarding the construction of new buildings or the revitalization of old buildings in Kingston’s historic downtown.  Prompted by the latest additions of Milestones and other shops and offices in the old S&R, and the reformation of the TD bank in Market Square to a Jack Astor’s, the poll asked how Kingstonians felt about how well these buildings were incorporated into our historical architecture.  As always, our readers came through with interesting comments resulting in a lively debate.
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Downtown Kingston architecture, Jack Astor's, Milestone's, The Keg

Weekly Poll: Heritage vs Development

In a city like Kingston, it’s hard to miss the history that is all around us. From our narrow roads and nineteenth century architecture, to our historic landmarks, the past is everywhere. This is a gift in many ways. It’s an authentic part of Kingston’s culture that people come from far and wide to see and experience, but it is also a difficult thing to work around when new development is in the air.

I am proud to live in a city that doesn’t tear down every old building in the name of progress, and I find it interesting to see how new businesses and our various institutions of higher learning will handle the incorporation of new buildings. We have seen a lot of this type of development over the past few years – at least in the downtown core. With the rejuvenation of S&R, the opening of the Keg in the former British Whig building and, most recently, the take over of the old TD by the incredibly popular Jack Astor’s across from Market Square, this week’s poll question asks:

How well has Kingston balanced the contrasting needs of heritage lovers, and developers?

  • Generally OK. (48%, 62 Votes)
  • Outstanding! (26%, 33 Votes)
  • Not so great. (20%, 25 Votes)
  • Horrible. (6%, 8 Votes)
  • Something else entirely. I'll tell you below. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 128

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It’s always nice to see local downtown businesses doing their best to maintain the beautiful details of storefronts along Princess and Brock. As I type, some store fronts in the Wellington-King block are being repainted, maintaining the integrity of the history of these buildings. But we certainly aren’t perfect. New buildings on Queen’s campus have always brought on discussions of which direction we should be headed. I arrived in Kingston after it was built, but the architecture of Stauffer library, for example, is still talked about today. How could they possibly build something so modern amongst ancient limestone buildings? But this type of development is showing no signs of slowing. In the very near future we will see Queen Street United Church transformed into condominiums, not to mention the many other locations downtown that have seen, or will soon see, brand new apartments and condominiums sprouting up.

How much responsibility do we, or does the city, have in insuring that we maintain our historic reputation? How important is it to you personally? Drop us a comment and tell us how you feel about new development in this fine, old town.

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