A Scaled Down Capitol Condo

Capitol condo Kingston, OntarioThe next chapter in the controversial bid to build a condominium at the former home of the Capitol Theatre was revealed this past week by IN8 Developments. In response to public objection and a city commissioned peer-review report by E.R.A. Architects, which recommended a height “in the low teens”, the developer has scaled down their original 20-storey plan to 16 storeys; plus one if you count the rooftop patio. Revised renderings of the Capitol condo continue to show the building towering over its neighbors by a factor as much as eight times. That disproportionate relationship and the importance of our downtown’s human scale, contributed to the original plan’s downfall, and may continue to haunt this latest iteration, which developers are suggesting as “…kind of it for us“.  All things considered, this week’s poll asks:

[poll id=”318”]

IN8’s pseudo-final offer is based upon their claim that the project would not be profitable if further height reductions were required. While that may in fact be the case, the hard position provides little optimism for those who support development in principle, but aren’t entirely satisfied with a 4-storey reduction.

The developer’s position puts the city between a rock and a hard place with respect to promoting development, expanding the tax base, rejuvenating downtown and respecting heritage and proportional scale.  Thus the multi-million dollar question is whether or not the city will respect the official plan and the results of the peer-reviewed study by rejecting the 16-storey Capitol, and ultimately risk killing the idea once and for all. But if by some miracle another revised pitch is forthcoming, what might plan c resemble? With pressure mounting and a precedent in the making, how many storeys are too many?  More importantly, how many storeys would you limit this project to?

Image credit IN8 Developments.

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...

3 thoughts on “A Scaled Down Capitol Condo

  • For the downtown to have a human scale, it needs to have humans, living there, shopping there, working there. There are many more pluses and minuses in allowing this significant intensification of the downtown core. The naysayers will protest at anything that doesn't keep the downtown in a 20th century time capsule, but if we want to keep the downtown growing strong, we need to increase the tax base and get people down there.

  • So, we've already had the first overly simplistic black-and-white comment. It really isn't about 'development' vs. 'time capsule'. I'm an urban geographer and actually taught urban planning for over ten years, and one thing that everyone involved in this debate should realise is that there are multiple ways of acheiving greater urban density and increasing the numbers of downtown residents. As most small towns in Europe demonstrate, 'density' is not the same as 'high-rise'. It's also certainly the case that the city could easily cope with some height without fundamentally altering the character of the city. In other words, there are other ways. The big problem here is that the local authority, the City of Kingston, seems to have no idea what it is doing. If a policy of densification, of attracting more residents, is to be pursued, it needs to be properly thought out and a process of participatory planning undertaken so that we get the city we want. Instead we have given over the planning and design process entirely to private developers, who don't have the interests of the city or people as their primary goal. Just respinding reactively to developer proposals is never going to arrive at a satisfactory result or make more than a small number of people happy. This is what planning should be about, it is what it is for.

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