Developing Kingston Penitentiary & Portsmouth Olympic Harbour

Big projects have been increasingly on the minds of many Kingstonians thanks to ongoing discussions and debates regarding the Third Crossing over the Cataraqui River, the Capitol Condo, towering residential structures at the foot of Queen Street, and the expansion of the runway at Norman Rogers Airport. Each of these highly publicized, politicized, and divisive undertakings has the potential to set new standards, and profoundly change the city for better or worse.  Over in Portsmouth District, a similar, massive project has been quietly simmering, as multiple layers of government, commissioned consultants, community and special interest groups set the stage for the future development of Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.

The expansive project aims to transform 5 acres of land owed by the City, 19.5 acres under the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and a whopping 26 acres of land belonging to the Correctional Service of Canada into a cohesive hub of activity that respects heritage, enhances recreation, increases population density and bolsters tourism.  The current composition of the site includes the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour buildings, park and marina, a Coast Guard station as well as the infrastructure and grounds that comprise the former Kingston Penitentiary.  How much of these existing elements should be preserved, and what must be added to transform this emerging district into a destination?

The Social YGK

An ongoing visioning exercise has combined feedback received during workshops, interviews, and roving information stations to generate four distinct concepts for developing Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour.  While the concepts are similar in areas such as access to public space and preservation of heritage elements, they differ in terms of building height, what does and does not get demolished, as well as the position of the marina.  An overview of each “exploration” and their distinct features is as follows:

Kingston Penitentiary, Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Kingston, OntarioExploration #1: tall buildings (+/- 18 storeys) on west side of marina; Portsmouth Olympic Harbour building is removed and rebuilt at northwest side of harbour; marina remains on west side of harbour; park/parking along north end of the marina; townhouses along east and west edges of former Penitentiary; signature tall building at the south side of former Penitentiary site; all existing buildings on former Penitentiary are maintained with no changes to their interiors; Penitentiary walls remains with holes cut in strategic places to provide access; and continuous water’s edge promenade and various plazas.
Kingston Penitentiary, Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Kingston, OntarioExploration #2: existing streets on west side of of marina extended and lined with townhouses; tall buildings (+/- 18 storeys) on west side of marina; Portsmouth Olympic Harbour building is replaced; public space at north side of marina; residential structure (+/- 6 storeys) at southeast side of the former Penitentiary site; marina moves to the east side of the harbour; boat launch on south side of the former Penitentiary site; all existing buildings on former Penitentiary site are maintained with adaptive re-use; only the limestone portions of the north wall of the former Penitentiary are maintained – all others removed; and continuous water’s edge promenade.
Kingston Penitentiary, Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Kingston, OntarioExploration #3: two streets on west side of harbour are extended and lined with residential buildings (4-6 storey); Olympic Harbour building and parking remains; marina remains on west side of the harbour;  twin green spaces at north side of harbour; 4-8 storey buildings at north west corner of Penitentiary site; all older buildings on former Penitentiary site are maintained with adaptive re-use – all modern buildings removed; only limestone portions of the north wall of the former Penitentiary are maintained – all others removed; and continuous water’s edge promenade.
Kingston Penitentiary, Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Kingston, OntarioExploration #4: existing streets on west side of of marina extended; townhouses on east side of former Penitentiary; Portsmouth Olympic Harbour building is removed; public space on west side of marina; new purpose-built boating/marina building on east side of harbour; some Penitentiary workshops replaced by 4 storey apartment buildings; some buildings on former Penitentiary site are maintained with adaptive re-use – some are removed; all walls of the former Penitentiary are removed; and continuous water’s edge promenade.

 

Which exploration option for Kingston Penitentiary & Portsmouth Olympic Harbour do you prefer?

  • Exploration #1 (27%, 308 Votes)
  • Exploration #4 (24%, 275 Votes)
  • Exploration #2 (20%, 234 Votes)
  • Exploration #3 (19%, 221 Votes)
  • Undecided (10%, 113 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,151

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We need to careful about misinterpreting these preliminary “explorations” as they are not the only options available to us moving forward.  The future redevelopment of Kingston Penitentiary and Portsmouth Olympic Harbour will likely incorporate the best and most widely accepted elements of each of these four concepts into a singular vision.  With that in mind, what aspect of the exploration you chose in this week’s poll did you like the most?  Furthermore, what element from any one of the other designs would you incorporate into the option you selected?  Finally, what key ingredient is missing from all four concepts?

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  1. Harvey Kirkpatrick November 7, 2016

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