The State of… Downtown Sidestreets (Part 2 of 3)

Downtown Kingston, sidestreets, Brock, Montreal, Wellington, Clergy, Barrie, Kingston, OntarioLast week we introduced the state of…Lower Princess Street, which sparked an unbelievable debate and received a record number of comments regarding the downtown business-scape.  Kingstonist’s readers weighed in on the cost of rent, the normalcy of vacant storefronts, as well as who owns property downtown.  In episode two, we focus on what’s new and otherwise derelict on the side streets that intersect and are adjacent to lower Princess Street.  A general guide to our area of interest is highlighted in red on the map, which is displayed above.

Recent Closures and Vacancies

  • Vacant Keystone Studio, 179 Sydenham Street: I vaguely remember a yoga or aerobic dance studio being located on the second floor of this building, but I can’t find any record to confirm my suspicions.
  • Vacant Lot, Montreal and Brock: a 2-storey building that was once home to H’Art Studio was demolished and is now a vacant lot.  Highly likely that this will become an extension of the adjacent parking garage.
  • Chez T’s, 15 Montreal Street:  the former location of a long standing hair salon, which relocated to Princess Street between Division and University.  This storefront has been vacant ever since.
  • Pharmacy, 255 Bagot Street: this corner was once home to a pharmacy, which closed shortly after the arrival of Shoppers Drugmart.  After renovation, smaller units were leased, while this one remains vacant.
  • Vacant Lot, Bagot and Queen: a former parking lot at this location was transformed into a deep crater in support of a low-rise residential development that has been stalled for over two years.
  • Peak Experience, 166 Wellington Street: this building has a bit of a flatiron feel to it.  Once home to Peak Experience, who pulled out ages ago in favour of their other location in a stripmall on Gardiners Road.
  • Bank of Montreal, 165 Wellington Street: there’s a bit of a debate as to whether this used to be a BMO or Scotia Bank.  In any case, the tellers have been closed, and ATMs out of currency for some time.
  • First Step Kingston, 208 Wellington: another one where there is a bit of debate.  I believe that this Springer-owned property was once home to a Podiatrist specializing in custom orthotics.
  • TD Bank, 330 King Street: with views of Springer Market Square, this 2-storey, Springer-owned building occupies a prime downtown corner, and was once home to a TD Bank branch.  An unmissable vacancy.
  • Sultan’s Bazaar, 339 King Street: once home to purveyors of fine Asian home decor, teas, and spices.
  • Sotto Sopra, 354 King Street: formerly Luigina’s, then Sotto Sopra, this 2-storey gourmet Italian resto was a personal favourite of mine.  Amazing food, but the outrageous prices made it affordable once a year.
  • Joy Supper Club, 178 Ontario Street: with long lines that frequently snaked up the block, and sometimes around the corner, this popular, somewhat pricey night club simply could not compete with the Hub.
  • Vacant Storefront, 267 Ontario Street: we’re not certain as to what business used to call this place home, but it had a front row seat to the demise of one of Kingston’s legendary shopping institutions, S&R.
  • Vacant Storefront, 275 Ontario Street: this storefront was recently once home to a travel agency that sent vacationing Kingstonians around the globe.  Nowadays it’s going nowhere fast.
  • Vacant Storefront, 369 King Street East: another vacancy that has been without action for so long, I cannot remember what, if anything, used to call it home.  A prime location between City Hall and the KRC.

Recent Additions and Relocations

  • Mino’s Restaurant, 340 Barrie Street: Mino’s Take Out grew their downtown operation to include a dinning area. They knocked down a wall and took over the space once used by Carr’s Dry Cleaning.
  • Carr’s Dry Cleaning, 341 Barrie Street: expanding on the story above, Carr’s relocated across the street into a new storefront in a brand new, 5-storey building.  New apartments upstairs were also created.
  • Sydenham Street Studio, 178 Sydenham: once home to the Kingston School of Music, which relocated to Division and Garrett, this place offers studio space to burgeoning artists, musicians and creative types.
  • Starling, 188 Sydenham Street: a below ground used and lovely vintage clothing boutique.
  • Life Labs, 255 Bagot Street: a Province-wide community medical testing network, which facilitates the diagnostic testing needs of outpatients, homebound patients as well as those in long-term care facilities.
  • Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre, 255 Bagot Street: formerly located on the corner of Bagot and Queen, this site is responsible for selecting future Canadian soldiers, sailors, airmen and air women.
  • Borderline Gallery, 197 Wellington Street: a unique art gallery, specializing in glass framing.
  • Ly’s Place, 203 Wellington Street: fine Asian cuisine, that I have not yet had the pleasure of tasting.
  • The Iron Duke, 207 Wellington Street: this gorgeously renovated pub is a favourite destination for students and young professionals alike.  It is our home base due to its close proximity to our homestead.
  • Dwell Boutique, 207B Wellington Street: Jen Storey’s outstanding interior design shop sells everything from cute owl pillows, to reclaimed wooden furniture, vinyl wall decals and custom window coverings.
  • Designer Baby, 60 Brock Street: for those expecting parents who want to dress their newborns in shirts that say “born to shop”, this place is for you.  Pricey doesn’t begin to describe this place.
  • Accent Details, 62 Brock Street: very little on the shelves in this store, but what they have for sale is a mix of hand made pottery, and gallery style vases.  You’d best have your credit card handy at this place.
  • The Raging Bull, 189 Ontario Street: the former home of Stoney’s has been split in two, with half going to the RCHA Club, and the other being transformed into a steakhouse.  Can it compete with the Keg et al?
  • The Kitschen, 250 Ontario Street: a homemade, frozen dinner retailer, serving gourmet dishes for people on the go. How can these guys stay alive with all of the options in your grocer’s freezer aisle?
  • Cafe Church, 259 Ontario Street: according to their site, this is an “evangelical, seeker driven, culturally relevant, theologically well-grounded church for people who live, work and play in downtown Kingston”.
Interested in learning more about the state of downtown Kingston? Check out part three of this series, which focuses on Upper Princess in 2009. Want even more? The 2015 edition of this series is now available.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

7 thoughts on “The State of… Downtown Sidestreets (Part 2 of 3)

  • The BMO Building at the corner of Wellington and Brock underwent architectural design a few years ago to allow for a high-end restaurant on the main floor, and high-end apartments on the floors above. I saw the designs a couple years ago but have heard nothing since. Perhaps the redevelopment cost was too high (from what I was told there were holes in the floors, walls had fallen in, stuff like that) and that the entire building was to be rebuilt inside.

    The Sultan’s Bazaar is an expensive rental given the size and quality of the building. A friend of mine who opened a store just outside the downtown core this year looked into this site, but was able to finance the purchase of a store with rental unit above it for less than the cost of renting this one.

    Also do not forget the big hole at the corner of Bagot and Queen. This site was prepared for construction (I forget the exact number, but I think it was a 6 or 8 floor apartment building) before the rug was pulled out. The site has since changed hands and is nearing deadlines for development or it will have to be filled in. I was really excited about this development as it was to feature affordable units for seniors in the downtown core, we will have to see what happens to this site in the next year.

  • Also… wouldn’t it be GREAT if that hideous TD Bank building on Market Square were to be ripped down and replaced by something that fits into the surroundings a little better? I spent some time in this building a couple years ago when it was used to house equipment for the Buskers festival. There is NO WAY this building will ever be leased out in its current layout. There is no real second floor, just a series of strange balconies jutting out into a large foyer-like room. Aside from a few back offices and the walk-in safe there is nothing here. There is no use for this building, and the square footage provided for a building this size is basically nothing.

    The only thing I can see happening here is for the building to be gutted and completely remodeled, or (hopefully) torn down and replaced completely. If only the Springer family didn’t have so much money. Few people could sit on property like this as long as they have without making any money from it. If they were strapped for cash something would have happened years ago, but with pockets like theirs…

  • @Andy Thanks for pointing out the hole on Bagot and Queen. Don’t know how I missed mentioning that one, considering how I wrote about it back in Sept ’08. This is a serious blight on the downtown, and it stinks of poor planning.

    Otherwise, I agree that the old TD Bank building is considerably out of sorts, considering the architectural company it enjoys. Aside from a bank or related financial institution, what could possibly work at this location?

  • On the topic of Bagot and Queen, that hole has been there for far more than 2years. I used to work in the Artillery Park complex there between 2003-2005 and walked by this repeatedly. It has always been a hole, at least since that time. Rumours I have heard suggest the City has attempted to force the owner to do SOMETHING with that lot, i.e. fill the hole, to no avail.

    Agreed – the TD bank needs to go. It is an eyesore. The building really should be torn down and something erected that is in keeping with the historic nature of the downtown. But who has the dollars for that?

  • The hole certainly has been there for years. I currently live a few blocks further up Bagot St from this location so I walk by here almost daily. From what I last heard there was a deadline set for development to begin or the hole would have to be filled. The land was then sold (if I recall correctly) and the city extended this deadline until sometime in the spring/summer for the new buyer. So if that holds true, by sometime this coming year either construction should begin (or planning should at least ramp up speed) or the hole will be filled in and we will have a nice empty lot for the next couple decades.

  • The old Kingston Police HQ is one that could be included on your list. As to what will happen there depends on how much faith you have in the North Block development. Personally I am fearful that the size, and location of the North Block project may be too much for our slow, and inept council to effectively manage. Rankin Sound is also another closure you missed. It was eventually/recently replaced by the AKA Social Centre.

  • Don’t forget Mexicali Rosa’s! Just another restaurant that failed in a building which one has to assume is cursed/haunted.

    In recent memory it’s been: Oliver and Smith’s, Allie Lou’s, Johnny Mac’s, The Juice, Mexicali Rosa’s…. I’m sure I’m forgetting at least one.’

    Johnny Mac’s did eventually reopen at Peachtree Plaza on Princess.

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