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

for lease on Kingston, downtown Kingston businessesIn our final snapshot of downtown Kingston, we turn our gaze to the ongoing revitalization of Williamsville’s Main Street. This section of Princess Street, spanning from Division to Bath Road, has been the subject of a major study, debate, and  fiery controversy over the past few years. One of the most contested issues has been the recent addition of bike lanes to Williamsville, which reduced already limited on-street parking and “put many businesses in jeopardy of closing”. Past explorations of this 12 block section of Princess Street documented numerous used car dealerships, car rental companies, gas stations as well as vacant lots and abandoned buildings.  Some of those long standing vacancies have recently been turned into large scale student rentals, bringing new life, new business opportunities and new problems to Williamsville’s Main Street.  Don’t let the high number of vacancies and closures fool you, as a handful of new and expected student housing projects as well as spin off businesses will soon start to take shape.  With the ongoing pursuit of a revitalized Williamsville in mind, let’s jump right in and explore what has changed, and is otherwise ripe for exciting development in the not too distant future.

Closures and Vacancies: 28 in 2015. Compare that to 15 in 2009, 12 in 2011 and 15 in 2013.

  • Colour Bar, 459 Princess Street: this seemed like a strange addition to the block, but they were making it work until quite recently.  Perhaps sharing space with a dry cleaner was an indication of the lack of business.
  • Credit Union, 462 Princess Street: the corner of Princess and University is set to undergo a huge transformation making way for the sold-out University Suites.  Existing buildings will be demolished.
  • Rhea’s, 493 A Princess Street: rest assured, Rhea’s has found a new home on Concession and Landsdown.  Their former location will also be turned to rubble and become a small corner of University Suites.
  • Domino’s Pizza, 493 B Princess Street: you may be noticing a theme here.  Domino’s has relocated up Princess Street near Tata’s, while their former NOP shop will be torn down as a part of the University Suites project.
  • Automotive Repair Shop, 464 Princess Street: feeling like a broken record here.  This spot will soon be torn down and give way to University Suites; student condominiums complete with yoga studios and guest suites.
  • 525 and 527 Princess Street: I can’t recall what used to be here, but the building recently underwent a nice face lift giving it a more modern flair.  Neighbours include Royal Angkor and University Barber Shop.
  • Vacant Lot, Princess and Alfred: former home to 7/11 and a gas station, which have been leveled and surrounded by fencing for far too long.  I am guessing another massive student condo will go here.
  • 552 to 556 Princess Street: the former home of OpenText, an Enterprise Information Management.  This building is nice and clean and slowly being surrounded by new student rentals. A great opportunity!
  • Gino’s Pizza, 557 and 559 Princess Street: I learned that my favourite pizza place moved near Regi during this walk.  Thankfully when I ordered from them a few weeks ago, delivery wasn’t negatively affected.
  • Rufina Uniforms, 561 1/2 Princess Street: storefront advertises a move to 172 Ontario Street.
  • Kingston Royal Rugs, 575 Princess Street: I’m not in the market for a new rug, but I’m not adverse to visiting a place selling them.  Foot traffic will keep this place going, so the move down to Princess makes sense.
  • 5-6-7-8 Dance Studio, 579 Princess Street: (edit/update) this dance studio has moved to a new home at 370 Nelson Street.  Their former home along Princess will undoubtedly become a massive student rental complex.
  • Budget Rental Car, 601 Princess Street: one of the longest standing vacancies on this stretch of Princess Street.  Budget has relocated further on up Princess and this lot is an ideal for a future student condo development.
  • Kingston Archaeology Centre, 611 Princess Street: definitely too far up Princess Street to attract the sort of foot traffic this sort of centre deserved.  They’ve since closed, but CARF is still digging up great history.
  • Vacant Lot, Princess and Nelson: former gas station.  Would be nice to have it back, but looking forward, perhaps an car charging station or car sharing centre would be more appropriate.
  • 647 Princess Street: this limestone building was ground zero for the great mid-town fire of 2013.  It hasn’t been resettled, but it’s prime real estate can’t sit vacant for long with 663 Princess coming online.
  • 670 Princess Street: vacant for so long, we can’t recall what used to be here.  Another prime location, that’s ripe for a fresh new business to come in and serve the many satisfied residents of 663 Princess.
  • Howard Johnson, 686-696 Princess Street: this casualty of the fire at 663 Princess Street has been rebuilt.  It was part of the HoJo, but will likely become a restaurant? Is this the future home of Don Cherry’s?
  • 797 Princess Street: many vacancies within this building, which would normally go unnoticed however one happens to be on the main floor.  A few vacancies can’t be that bad, so nothing to worry about here, right?
  • Medical Arts Building, 800 Princess Street: this building is dedicated to services ranging from physiotherapy to chiropractic, a pharmacy and dentist.  Perfect location for a family doctor, with parking too.
  • Westgate Square, 837, 841-847, 853, 855 and 857 Princess Street: this building has always had a number of vacancies, but after the recent Williamsville main street reno, there seems to be many more than normal.

Additions, Relocations and Coming Soon: 10 in 2015. Compare that to 15 in 2009, 15 in 2011 and 28 in 2013.

  • Just a Trim, 428 Princess Street: this place has seamlessly transitioned from one hair studio to another.  Just a trim looks to be unisex, and a prime location for students making their way too and from campus.
  • Pat’s Restaurant, 455 Princess Street: when we last looked at this stretch of Princess Street, Pat was just starting to transform this space.  Open now for just under 2 years, this is the right spot for his delicious fare.
  • Flavours of India, 461 Princess Street: formerly an under performing Asian restaurant, and now a really nice looking Indian spot.  Will their foray onto Darbar’s turf cause issues, or can they ride on Darbar’s success?
  • Kingston Asian Super, 461 Princess Street: I recall an Asian supermarket being located at Pat’s.  This might be same, or otherwise inspired.  Suffice it to say, there’s a real market for steamed buns and dumplings.
  • Domino’s, 561 Princess Street: relocating from their longstanding home at the end of Princess and University, displaced by the University Suites project.  Will they move back to the massive retail space on the ground floor?
  • Limestone Credit Union, 572 Princess Street: strangely, this place used to be a Pizza Hut.  It’s odd to see it as anything but, however the exterior transformation is truly easy on the eyes, and fits with the surroundings.
  • Lulus, 573 Princess Street: guys, we found Lulus!  This spot relocated without much notice and another salon can be found at their former location.  Their relocation still hasn’t yielded an apostrophe…
  • The Edge, 663 Princess Street: from the massive fire and subsequent rescue to the fast and furious reconstruction project and the many, many stories/photos from those moving in to unfinished suites, this is the biggest thing to happen to this section of Princess Street in the last century.  Seriously though, please finish this place.
  • Cash Money, 677 Princess Street: have I made my distaste for payday rental places known?  This place is no difference than the others.  I would rather see nothing here than this sort of business.
  • Just Bead It, 728 Princess Street: puns galore! And remember, don’t stop until you get enough… beads that is.  This block is an interesting potpourri including a pawn shop, tattoo spot, 420 specialists and comics.

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...

One thought on “The State of… Williamsville’s Main Street (Part 3 of 3)

  • Fortunately, the large number of vacancies appears to mostly be caused by upcoming redevelopment. In another five years this area could be booming. As it is, it is an area of the city with a lot of untapped potential.

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