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

Downtown Kingston, sidestreets, Brock, Montreal, Wellington, Clergy, Barrie, Kingston, OntarioLast week we revisited a topic that’s near and dear to the hearts of many Kingstonians: the ever-changing landscape of downtown Kingston, specifically lower Princess Street. In our original three part series that was published two years ago, we provided a snapshot of new, relocated and recently closed local businesses.  After publishing last week’s update, we learned more about some of the new tenants in the revitalized Smith Robinson building, as well as an Apple reseller store possibly opening up downtown.  In part two of our updated three-part series, Kingstonist bounces in between downtown side streets including Ontario, King, Brock, Wellington, Bagot, Montreal, Sydenham, Clergy and Barrie to document what’s new, vacant and new again.

Closures and Vacancies

  • Unknown, 267 Ontario Street: two years ago Kingstonist noted that this storefront was vacant.  Since then, there have yet to be any takers, nor any hints as to what business used to call this address home.
  • Mexicali Rosas, 172 Ontario Street: I am convinced that this is where businesses come to die.  After Mexi’s closed, Lone Star temporarily relocated here during the neighbouring parking garage collapse.
  • Catwalk, 320 King Street: I don’t think this is technically a part of the British Whig building, but it’s hard to tell as the structure is connected.  Catwalk is moving around the corner to Trugs’ old shop.
  • Block and Cleaver, 322 King Street: shortly after publishing this piece we confirmed that the Block and Cleaver is in fact closed.  An exciting business is opening up shop here. Find out more below.
  • TD Bank, 330 King Street: in 2009 we noted that this former TD Bank branch had been vacant for years.  Talks are underway to bring a Jack Astor’s here complete with new a facade and rooftop patio.
  • Sultan’s Bazaar, 339 King Street: another long standing vacancy in downtown Kingston.  With any luck the new neighbour, Sir John’s Public House, will help generate more foot traffic in the area.
  • Unknown, 339 Brock Street: yet another storefront that’s been vacant for well over two years.  Recently, the most action this address has seen was when a car that drove through the north side of the building.
  • Bank of Montreal, 165 Wellington Street: it doesn’t take a genius to notice the trend here, but this address has also been vacant for as long as those listed above.  What’s the root cause of these empty spaces?
  • Sun Restaurant, 41 Montreal Street: the reason for this vacancy is a bit more pleasant and easy to swallow than the rest.  The owner and chef of Sun Restaurant recently closed up shop to enjoy retirement.
  • Lotus Heart Blossom, 185 Sydenham Street: quite honestly, I never truly liked Lotus Heart Blossom, so I wasn’t surprised when it closed.  That said, I’m still wishing for a good veg/vegan resto downtown.
  • Blockbuster Video, 145 Clergy Street: did the Internet kill Blockbuster, or was it their failed attempt to cancel late fees?  This property is huge, which might result in another long term vacancy.
  • Office Space, 327 Barrie Street: rounding up our list of property that’s ripe for business is this quaint office space in a limestone building.  Given the small size and purpose, it won’t sit empty for long.

Additions, Relocations and Coming Soon

  • Copper Kettle Chocolate Company, 250a Ontario Street: with an operation  in the heart of Picton, they have over 30 varieties of homemade chocolate, chocolate bark, and truffles.
  • Damask, 254 Ontario Street: specializing in fine jewellery with a wide variety of rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.  Is this high-end boutique a good fit for downtown Kingston?
  • Limestone City Cupcakery, 248 Ontario Street: cupcakes were all the rage when my wife and I were picking the perfect wedding cake three years ago.  Seems the trend is still alive and well.
  • Pasta Shelf, 195 Ontario Street: this well established import from the township set up a second location on a high traffic corner that was once home to Stoney’s.  Definitely worth a taste.
  • Mio Gelato, 178 Ontario Street: one of my favourite summer treats from 2010 and 2011.  Everything is made in-house, and the owners are keen on experimental flavours that will impress.
  • Unknown, 172 Ontario Street: developers have announced that this property is about to receive a massive face lift, complete with luxury condos and two ground floor retail opportunities.
  • Coffeeco, 322 King Street: we were delighted to learn that Coffeeco is (finally) opening up shop downtown.  This is a fantastic addition on the doorstep of the high traffic Market Square.
  • Sir John’s Public House, 343 King Street: from the folks behind Fort Henry resto and the Renaissance event venue, this pub features traditional Scottish and contemporary cuisine.
  • Unknown, 354 King Street: I’m still mourning the loss of Luigina’s, the former tenant here.  It has sat vacant for far too long, and I’m truly excited about the ‘leased’ sign recently posted here.
  • Red Maple, 55 Brock Street: the owner of this tourist magnet, Per, is an acclaimed illustrator and who designs and sells humorous “Canadian” apparel and gifts. Recently relocated from Princess St.
  • Runner’s Choice, 56 Brock Street: another relocation from Princess St, Runner’s Choice has been a downtown staple for as long as I can remember. A chain with only 3 locations nationwide.
  • Catwalk, 65 Brock Street: this boutique temps with purses, shoes and other shiny bits.  They’re in the midst of relocating from King Street, taking up the former home of Trugs.
  • Trugs, 66 Brock Street: after years at 65 Brock, Trugs made a huge move across the street.  Okay, the move wasn’t huge at all, and was likely due to a rent increase or something along those lines.
  • Some Hair Salon, 82 Brock Street: this salon is somewhat unassuming, as I initially walked right on by without realising it was even in business.  It looked rather vacant, but it’s operational.
  • Hatley, 86 Brock Street: a retailer of reasonably-priced family threads, clad with cutesy animals, quotes and no logos.  This is one of the company’s 8 locations across Canada.
Interested in learning more about the state of downtown Kingston? Check out part three of this series, which focuses on Upper Princess in 2011. 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...

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

  • Very happy to announce that I missed a new business opening up shop on King Street. Just learned (and updated the list above) that Coffeeco will be taking the place of the Block and Cleaver at 322 King Street. Exciting, and long overdue!

    Did I miss anything else?

      • I had high hopes for Mug and Truffle but the owner parks himself at one of the rear tables and hogs the newspapers.

    • Excellent news … I've been looking for an alternative coffee hangout downtown… very surprised to hear Block and Cleaver is gone though…they were a Kingston institution and added much needed diversity to downtown businesses.. at least they weren't replaced with another burger joint..

  • There was talk (maybe in the Whig) about Jack Astor's moving into the old TD building at 330 King.

    • Interesting. I think a restaurant would be great at that location, not necessarily Jack Astors, and not necessarily with the building's current layout. If I recall correctly, there's a great deal of wasted space upstairs, connected by balconies and walkways. Not sure how you would use that for a restaurant.

  • Jack Astor's is supposed to be moving into that long-empty building. Last I heard there was a dispute between the developer and the city over the facade and signage on the building. As much as I like that the city cares about preserving its heritage, I can't imagine a worse eye-sore than the existing empty store so just let them get to it already!

    (Also I heard a rumour that there may or may not be a roof-top balcony included in the remodel)

    • Thanks for the tip. A rooftop patio would be an excellent addition to downtown Kingston. I've often wondered why someone hasn't done this up until now. It would offer an exclusive view of the waterfront and our historic downtown which, regardless of the food/restaurant, people would flock to.

      Having said that, I am not sure downtown Kingston can support Jack Astor's and Milestones (opening up in the Smith Robinson building), without crippling the bottom line of local, independent restaurants.

  • The problem with Kingston and it's commercial market is that Springer's control too much real estate. The problem with this is that they can refuse to negotiate any rate cuts to move long-standing empty properties because they are making so much money on the other properties.

    Unfortunately I can't think of any way to remedy this. It's just a matter of waiting for the Kingston economy to catch up with the irrational rents being listed on these properties.

    • Peter Splinter is a very hard person to deal with. Why does he have a big office here when eveything has to go to California? We tried to wait over one month to get an answer from one of his locations.

  • Regarding 354 King Street, where Luigiana's/Sotto Sopra was, there's a liquor license transference notice on the door which states it is going to be a Japanese Ramen bar! Looking very forward to this – not just another sushi place!

    • Yeah !!!! I agree. Kingston needs another sushi place like it needs another burger joint. What I really would like to see is a great Malaysian restaurant.

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