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.


  1. Andy December 22, 2009
  2. Andy December 22, 2009
  3. Harvey Kirkpatrick December 23, 2009
  4. Kook December 23, 2009
  5. Andy December 23, 2009
  6. Duke Smythe December 23, 2009
  7. Blake December 28, 2009

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