City Council has approved a revised plan for development in the Williamsville corridor, the stretch of Princess Street between Division Street and the Kingston Centre.
The revised plan will allow for construction of residential towers of up to 20 storeys in the area around the Princess and Division St. intersection, but will cap any future buildings built along the corridor at a height of no more than six storeys.
According to Paige Agnew, Director of Planning for the City of Kingston, the taller buildings will only be allowed in about 30 per cent of the corridor, with the remaining 70 percent kept at the lower height. The six-storey buildings will be interspersed with other, existing towers along the corridor already built with heights up to ten storeys.
Agnew told Council on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 that a number of considerations went into the revised plan.
“We looked at the intent of the Main Street Study as well as the direction from Council to reevaluate the policy based on the concern that potentially too many tall buildings were being built within the corridor,” she said.
Agnew noted that the land is currently underutilized, and that the City wants to increase the population density in the area gradually over the next 25 years.
“We looked at the length of the corridor, we looked at the overall area, we looked that the population that we wanted to achieve. We looked at the fact that the community, originally …had intended this to primarily be a mid-rise corridor,” of four to six storey buildings.
“And then we looked at the additional growth that we want to allocate here, from a sustainability and a smart growth perspective, following the direction that’s already in our Official Plan. All of these things factored into the recommendations that we see today in terms of the zoning changes, and primarily keeping the majority of the corridor within the six storey scale.”
City Planning Consultant Brent Toderian also advised on the new plan, and spoke at Council Tuesday night.
He noted that 20-storey towers were considered the optimum height in terms of economic viability for developers in the area. While 15 storey towers would have also been suited to the urban design, he said he thought that height might “cool the market,” and delay development.
“Based on the viability piece, the population and projection piece, and the urban design piece, we were quite comfortable recommending 20 floors,” he said, noting they will be what he called “slim floors.”
Council discussed whether the revised plan could encourage more wood-framed construction, and a reduction in the number of parking spaces required per building. According to Mayor Bryan Paterson, this reduction will help to lower the cost of construction and in turn help to make housing more affordable in the neighbourhood.
Mayor Paterson also said that the plan encourages more efficient development and with good walking, cycling and transit options. “This will help to ensure that even with a lot of new housing built in the Williamsville corridor, it will help to lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions across our community,” he said.