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?