The City of Kingston announced today that it is purchasing the historic downtown landmark known as the British Whig Building as its permanent municipal administration centre in the City’s downtown core. The purchase was approved by Kingston City Council at its meeting of Feb. 15, 2011.
“The City is pleased to be purchasing this recently renovated historic downtown property, located on King Street across from City Hall, where City operations will be run effectively while contributing to our vibrant downtown,” says Mark Gerretsen, Mayor of the City of Kingston. “The decision supports our goal of being Canada’s most sustainable city and makes sense from an economic, cultural, social and environmental point of view.”
The City has been leasing the upper three floors of the building, which faces Kingston City Hall, at a rate of $337,000 a year since 2006. The lease agreement with owner Kincore Holdings Ltd., which expires in August of this year, includes an option to extend the lease for a further five-year period at a rental rate of $433,000 per year for a total of $2.2 million, as well as an option to purchase the building for $11 million. The City successfully negotiated the purchase at a lower cost — which also included the adjacent parking lot fronting on Clarence Street that was not part of the original option to purchase. With the addition of the adjacent property, which the City will continue to use for parking for the foreseeable future, this purchase meets both the current need for office space, as well as the opportunity for future expansion should that be required.
In 2003 the City’s Municipal Accommodation Master Plan outlined a strategy emphasizing City Hall’s importance as a national historic site while maintaining its traditional role as the seat of government. This plan included the development of a downtown corporate administrative centre to house City staff. The purchase of the British Whig Building is in keeping with that strategy, supported by a business plan to finance the purchase that capitalizes on rental income from both the existing parking lot and restaurant tenant, as well as money previously ear-marked for building rental.
Located at 310 King St. East, the historically designated British Whig Building has a long history. It is comprised of two historic buildings, the 1894 Ontario Bank Building and the 1895 Daily Whig Building, both designed by architect Joseph Power. The home of the Kingston Whig-Standard until its relocation in the 1990s, the building was acquired by Kincore which undertook an extensive restoration beginning in 2004.
Media contact information: Cindie Ashton, Communications Officer, 613-546-4291, ext. 3116 (cell 329-3462); The City of Kingston media hotline is 613-546-4291, ext. 2300.