The State of… Williamsville’s Main Street (Part 3 of 3)

for lease on Kingston, downtown Kingston businessesIn today’s final snapshot of downtown Kingston, we turn our gaze to what is arguably the most exciting and promising region of the core in terms of the city’s future. The long term revitalization of Williamsville’s main street has been the subject of a major study, debate, and perhaps even controversy. During past explorations of this 12 block section of Princess Street, we have noted dozens of used car dealerships, car rental companies, gas stations as well as vacant lots and abandoned buildings. While that overview paints a bleak and unexciting picture of the region, numerous transportation and parking upgrades were recently approved by City Council, and developers have been jumping at the opportunity to create large scale student rentals in Kingston’s midtown.  Such change always comes at a cost, as the addition of bike lanes could eventually result in the demise of businesses such as The Star Dinner, who rely on on-street parking to accommodate their clientele.  Furthermore, an increased student population is bound to be a radical change for this generally quiet, family-friendly community.

Although blocks away from the main street, the Memorial Centre farmers market has garnered significant attention in its two years of existence.The Memorial Centre’s revitalized park, splash pad, pool and new purpose as the home for the city’s rollerderby have also contributed to the vitality and resurgence of this neighborhood as an exciting place to live, work and play. That ongoing pursuit, the revitalization of Williamsville and its main street, is the vision I want you to keep in mind as we explore what has changed, and is otherwise ripe for exciting development in the not too distant future.

Closures and Vacancies

  • Mixed Used Office Building, 449 Princess Street: with vacancies consistently advertised, this Springer-owned property is a stone’s throw away from one of the downtown’s busiest intersections.
  • Lawyer’s Office, 464 Princes Street: sandwiched between the Kingston Heart Clinic and Credit Union, this former law firm and massage parlor is a quaint space for a professional office.
  • Good Fortune Chinese Deli and Bakery, 527 Princess Street: while I lived just around the corner from the Chinese restaurant that used to occupy this space, I always thought it seemed like a dive.
  • 7 Eleven/Esso, Princess and Alfred: now a vacant lot, this former dispensary of petroleum products and Slurpees is a key brownfield in the revitalization of Williamsville’s main street.
  • Vacant Storefront, 561 Princess Street: with the likes of Canadian Tire now training new drivers, the Excel Driving School Inc. no longer parallel parks next to and on the curb at this address.
  • Pizza Hut, 572 Princess Street: with new additions such as Little Caesars and Papa John’s setting up shop just down the street, there was little room for the greasiest pizzeria of the all.
  • Vacant Lot, 601 Princess Street: what remains from Budget Rent-a-Car is a mere parking lot a derelict shack that used to serve as the office. Please note any deficiencies before signing for your vehicle.
  • Vacant Lot, Princess and Nelson: with the cleanup of yet another rotting gas station complete, here lies another brownfield that’s ripe for the right kind of development and revitalization.
  • Vacant Lot, Princess and Nelson: this vacant lot, and former home to The Keg, is quickly become one of the longest standing vacancies on Williamsville’s Mainstreet.  Park some food trucks here.
  • Vacant Storefront, 670 Princess Street: another seemingly abandoned commercial property that has been lying in its own filth since the last time we took stock of the area.
  • Jerry Jackson Motor Sales, 677 Princess Street: with a few used car dealerships still clinging to life downtown, it’s only a matter of time before they go the way of Jerry and company.
  • Vacant Storefront, 731 Princess Street: the former location of 420 Kingston isn’t much to look at, but it’s footprint may be the ideal spot for someone looking to start out small and test the waters.
  • Mixed Used Office Building, 797 Princess Street: this 5-storey mixed use office building has fewer vacancies than last time around.  This should be an exciting health centre.
  • Kingston Medical Arts Building, 800 Princess Street: more pharmacies and physiotherapists just across the street from 797 Princess.  Still a few spots for related services.
  • Vacant Storefront, 837-845 Princess Street: in comparison to some of the other vacant properties along the strip, you don’t have to drastically stretch your imagination to see something working here.
  • Vacant Storefront, 853 Princess Street: steps away from Star Diner and other businesses who seem to be making a go of it, this is the last vacancy along Princess Street before the Bath Road intersection.

Additions, Relocations and Coming Soon

  • Pat’s Restaurant, 447 Princess Street: after establishing then selling half a dozen Thai and Cambodian restaurants downtown, chef Pat is moving back to the heart of the city.  Very exciting times!
  • The Colour Bar, 459 Princess Street: salons of various names have called this address home over the past decade, including James Brett.  Renaming establishments is preferred over vacancies.
  • Cyclepath, 471 Princess Street: we aren’t 100% certain as to whether or not this business was here last time we walked the strip. Nevertheless, it’s a welcome reprieve from big box sporting retail.
  • Ted’s Road and Triathlon Bike Shop, 477 Princess Street: practically collocated with Cyclepath, Ted’s shop keenly caters to Kingston’s niche tri crowd.   What do they do during the winter?
  • Izumu, 499 Princess Street: it should come as no surprise that this section of downtown Kingston is also home to yet another sushi restaurant.  In the former location of Discover Japan.
  • Dim Sum Kingston, 501 Princess Street: a relative newcomer to downtown Kingston.  There was lots of buzz and anticipation regarding this place, while the customer base seems to be stable.
  • Papa John’s, 503 Princess Street: Chatham and Princess is now the unofficial Pizza Corner thanks to Papa John’s and Little Caesars.  Corporate and independent pizzerias have taken a hit.
  • Little Caesars Pizza, 507 Princess Street: with walk in deals under $10, Little Caesars and Papa John’s have created a price war amongst pizzerias, and contributed to the demise of Pizza Hut.
  • University Barber Shop, 521 Princess Street: formerly Olympic, this barber shop simply changed its name.  A prime location for the student crowd and a very attractive/competitive price.
  • Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addictions Services, 544 Princess Street: this non-profit has been providing services to those with mental health issues and addiction since 1972.
  • Kingston Royal Rugs, 575 Princess Street:  a relative newcomer since our last look at the strip who specializes in rugs and throws that are truly works of art.  Priced accordingly.
  • Taylored Training, 547 Princess Street: celebrated by their faithful members who swear by the challenging methods employed by friendly staff.  Not the cheapest gym in town, but they get results.
  • Stinson Gas Station, Princess Street: in the absence of any other gas stations along main street, the addition of a new petroleum peddler isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  • Student/Residential Apartment Complex: construction is in full swing at this former Toyota dealership, which will soon become a massive student accommodations complex.
  • Fitzpatrick Interiors, 467 Princess Street: formerly a used book merchant, this sort of unique business helps contribute to the identity of the neighborhood.  More please.
  • Pyschic Astrology Shop, 662 Princess Street: whether you go for shear entertainment or because you base life on their readings, its better than a vacancy.  I’m skeptical.
  • Nightlight, 666 Princess Street: a Christian-based drop-in centre for adults who offers a safe place to build meaningful relationships.  Entirely volunteer-run, open 3 nights per week.
  • 420 Kingston, 726 Princess Street: relocated from a tiny hole in the wall, this smoke shop offers everything and anything to those looking to enjoy a session or two.  They even sell munchies.
  • LA Bobs, 791 Princess Street: formerly Casey’s Deli, this independent catering service also offers delicious carry-out meals. Their menu boasts unique twists on old, family favorites.
  • Merry Family Foot Clinic, 791 Princess Street: specializing in orthopedic services and products, this business is a good fit for the concentration of medical businesses in the area.
  • Kawartha Credit Union, 850 Princess Street: finally, the re-branded and renamed Unity Savings and Credit Union offers a personal touch you really can’t find at a larger institution.
Interested in learning more about the state of downtown Kingston? Check out the 2015 edition of this series.

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...

9 thoughts on “The State of… Williamsville’s Main Street (Part 3 of 3)

  • Someone didn't like your comment about the 7 Eleven/Esso: a chainlink fence has gone up this week. Future parking lot?

  • The vacant lot you list where the Keg use to be, is actually one of Springer's parking lots. It charges $45 monthly at this location (check their website).

    Forget the food trucks there, I rather see the area of that lot that is still covered in grass made into a nice parkette. I see a lot of people walking their dogs there.

    • …actually should check out that lot , i believe the underground oil-holding tank from Edwards Ford is still present there….on a hot summer day a stroll through this lot and you can smell and see the oil seppage coming up to the surface .

    • A green space would look nice indeed: flower beds, benches, fruit trees, art…

      Remember what happened to the giant evergreen on that lot?

      • Springer cut down that evergreen because the Christmas Tree at city hall had the top of it broken off and they needed a replacement fast. I believe they cut it down the day of the Santa Clause parade. That evergreen was so tall and the most beautiful one I ever saw in the city. It was a shame when it was taken down.

        I was told that Springer didn't have to follow the Tree By-law for cutting down trees, because they were donating it to the City of Kingston.

        I guess you don't have to follow the city's by-laws as long as you tell them you are donating it to the city.

  • Seepage? Really? Where? For the innumerable times that I have crossed that lot by foot, I have never seen any seepage. Edwards Ford was a very large building with very large display rooms for brand new cars. I would LOVE to see concrete proof (no pun intended) of an underground tank, because to the best of my memory there was NO gas pump. Stu Duff's garage was used for that purpose. I think that this might be a bit of brownfield propaganda in the making, or maybe not, we'll see.

    • the "oil tank lid " is exactly near the cluster of overgrown trees and also near what used to be the main entrances fro Biggs and the Keg ….walk in that area and you'll see the lid

  • …actually, I am mistaken. I was thinking of "gas" tanks. You refer to an oil tank, presumably for heating oil. You may be right.

  • heating oil was always stored above ground , this here is probably a holding unit for oil that was discarded from oil changes from vehicles in the garage area

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