Ruffles, Furbelows and Frills

King's Crossing
Last month, I took a drive out to the new big box plaza, which was plopped down at the 401 and Division Street intersection. I’m not a huge fan of the King’s Crossing moniker, so I’ll entertain and perhaps use any creative submissions you can come up with instead. Back to the story at hand. The massive mall is home to a Canadian Tire, Mark’s Work Warehouse, Boston Pizza, No Frills, and fashion including: Tommy Hillfiger, Calvin Klein, Puma, and many more (pictures found here). Like it’s counterpart on Gardner’s Road, it’s bound to become a shopping mecca for Kingstonian’s, and visitors from near and afar.

This development is certainly an improvement over the previous landscape, which gave passer’s by the impression that Division Street was one continuous lane of fast food franchises. Although Mr. Horton, the Golden Arches, and a girl named Wendy have been successful in attracting a trickle of hungry travelers off the 401, King’s Crossing will invariably open the flood gates. The spin off for Kingston will result in jobs, convenient shopping for those in the area, increased selection of stores not found elsewhere in the city, and it might even reduce the congestion along Gardner’s Road around the RioCan.

As was the case with the RioCan, many feared that the economic core of Kingston would suffer as a result of increased competition. Additionally, it’s a bit more expensive for a business to rent space downtown. But in the wake of the RioCan, the core has proved to be pretty strong. In fact, the only store I can remember closing is Zellers, which was replaced by a much needed / better looking Shopper’s Drugmart. Further proof of the strength of our downtown, is the addition of new stores including: American Apparel, Minotaur, Urban Outfitters, Ben and Jerry’s and many more.

That said, King’s Crossing has me a bit worried about our downtown. Already we have learned that the No Frills on Bagot Street (5 blocks NOP), is slated to close due to the fact that it is in desperate need of economically unsound repairs. Although this may not impact you, or your favorite downtown shopping destination, it is going to be a problem for myself and many of my neighbors. As the name implies, the store is unabashedly sans frills, while a majority of the customers do not have the means to afford pricier super markets. Further, many do not have access to transportation, which puts the new No Frills at King’s Crossing out of reach.

Is this an isolated incident, or will development on Kingston’s outskirts hurt the downtown core? I find it hard to believe that the downtown could ever die, with Queen’s, St.Lawrence, RMC, tourists, KRock’ers, Grand Theatre patrons and all the rest. What say you?

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 “Ruffles, Furbelows and Frills

  • Will development on Kingston’s outskirts hurt the downtown core? One can only hope!

    Maybe that giant sucking sound, the sound of our tax dollars being ripped-off for downtown Kingston, will finally cease.

    This is an amalgamated city. It’s time to face-it: the party’s over for the bozos downtown.

    You want to be a tourist trap? Go ahead, knock yourself out. Not on my dime anymore, please. You want tax money for your effing projects? Get in line, like everybody else.

  • The downtown has had a bit of a strangle hold on tax dollars for some time, and with the KRC that’s not going to change any time soon. But still, projects outside the downtown don’t come cheap…Invista Centre wasn’t chump change.

  • I always avoided that No Frills on Bagot Street. I feared my life walking anywhere near there. I always shopped at either Food Basics downtown or A&P downtown. Coming from the Fruit Belt to Food Basics was a bit of a journey on foot but I did it nonetheless. I can see the closure causing an impact on the community near No Frills, but not a major one. If you have to walk another few blocks, you have to walk another few blocks.

  • The problem is, a lot of the people who shop at that particular No Frills are elderly, on unemployment due to an injury or disability or are working so much to make ends meet that they can barely make it to No Frills for a shopping trip so walking a few extra blocks can be a real detriment to their day. Not to mention that Food Basics is already ridiculously busy every time I go there. The lines alone take a good 10-15 minutes sometimes, even if you only came for milk, so I think the loss of this store is going to have a big impact on the people in the neighbourhood.

    Oh, and downtown is expensive as are all the projects going on in the city but it is where our history lies and it deserves to be updated and focused on. Rico, do you really want to see downtown turn to crap? Ever been to Hamilton? They let it happen there and it is really, really sad.

  • Rico the downtown core in Kingston is a shining example of urban planning and a good way for a city to be designed. With everything based around walking and mixed use of space that area of the city is a much better way to organize the city as opposed to the disgusting sprawl that exists practically everywhere outside the downtown. I encourage the city to continue to develop the historic downtown both for its cultural value and the fact that it is the proper way a city should be. You don’t need to look far to see the impact of the “sprawl” school of urban planning and the destruction of downtowns and the ensuing dependance on automobiles.

  • So Ian, you think downtown Kingston is a model of design efficiency. Have you ever been outside the City? The shambles of the waterfront, the ludicrous parking arrangements and the utter chaos of the traffic management system smack of the most parochial outlook and utter thoughtlessness. But then, I’ve actually seen many much better, more sensibly organized cities around the World.

  • RicoJ:

    If Kingston residents are willing to trade a hollowed-out urban core for lower property taxes and a blight of suburban big-box stores, they deserve exactly what they get.

    I’ve lived in a number of cities with dead downtowns. Kingston residents don’t seem to have the slightest appreciation for what they’ve got.

  • London Times, yes the waterfront could be better, parking is an issue, and traffic is less than perfect. Keep in mind that downtown Kingston wasn’t built yesterday, and as such we have to build around structures and the general footprint that was devised over two centuries ago. Sure, if we could rip it all down it would be a modern day acropolis, but then it would loose all of it’s rich history.

    RicoJ, as far as I’m concerned the township can not prosper without a burgeoning core. You want to spend less money downtown and say goodbye to tourists, then you’ll be lucky if you have a dime left. Like it or not, Kingston’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism. And what do you suppose they’re coming here to see? I’m guessing it’s not the RioCan, or Cataraqui Town Centre, but rather, one of the many sites in and around the downtown.

  • Kingston has some really important elements going for it that maybe a city like Hamilton didn’t. You have people here who care enough about preserving the downtown to write on this here blog about it. Which means that there is at least an awareness that it is important to preserve the amazing downtown core that you have.

    I work at the Starbucks out on Division where we are discussing, and the vast majority of people who come in are either going South from Montreal or Ottawa or going the other way. It is a great source of business to capitalize on this traffic coming by your city to build to cater to it. And the benefit it that people like me are employed there and then take our money and go shop downtown. I’m a resident of the city and the money I make from working out there comes right back in to the lifeblood of the very downtown we want to protect. It doesn’t need to be one or the other, it can be both.

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