Redeveloping the North Block

North Block

About a year ago the Kingston City Police moved into their new fortress on Division Street. Since then, I’ve often wondered what might become of their former home on the corner of Queen and Ontario. How long will it sit in moth balls? With such a prime downtown location, the land could be easily developed to suit anything from a parking tower to hotel. Yesterday the City unveiled five concepts for redeveloping the land known as North Block, which also encompasses the blocks housing: Food Basics, LCBO/Good Life etc… As a resident who lives minutes away from the North Block, I am rather disappointed that some of the concepts cut these essential amenities out of the picture.

From the City’s website “at a two-day June public workshop, participants — including residents, businesses, City staff, and The Planning Partnership — offered a number of key design elements that have been developed by The Planning Partnership into five working concepts for the North Block.

Concept 1: a proposal for primarily non-residential development with retail uses at-grade and medium density commercial uses on the above floors. Public, institutional and cultural uses are encouraged. The proposed height maximum of 6 storeys is intended to provide a sensitive transition between new development and the adjacent neighbourhoods. The massing distribution is designed to ensure the preservation of view corridors and solar exposure. (Sketch of Concept 1)

Concept 2: a proposal for high density, primarily non-residential uses. Like Concept Plan 1, at-grade retail uses are an important component of the scheme. Retail uses are focused along the east and west streets – Barrack Street and Queen Street. Public, institutional and cultural uses are also encouraged land uses. The proposed heights for the district range from 1 to 15 storeys. Lower structures are located along Wellington Street to provide a transition between adjacent neighbourhoods and the higher uses proposed along Ontario Street. The preservation of view corridors and maximum solar exposure are considered in the design. (Sketch of Concept 2)

Concept 3: a proposal for high density residential development on Blocks 1, 3 and 5. The building heights for these blocks range from 6 to 12 storeys. Block 4 consists of a residential complex that steps up from 4 to 15 storeys and includes a rooftop terrace on the fourth level that connects the east and west towers. Rooftop courtyards are also key components of Blocks 1 and 3. These areas help create a north-south view corridor while also maximizing sun exposure for the new developments. (Sketch of Concept 3)

Concept 4: a proposal for moderate scale development that primarily consists of residential uses. The buildings heights in this scheme range from 6 to 8 storeys. Again, lower structures are located along Wellington Street to provide a transition between adjacent neighbourhoods and the higher uses proposed along Ontario Street. (Sketch of Concept 4)

Concept 5: a proposal for low scale development that consists primarily of residential uses. Residential uses along Wellington Street are the lowest at 4 storeys. Uses intensify towards Ontario Street to a maximum of 8 storeys. Block 1 consists of a residential structure that surrounds the outer edge of the block. The interior of Block 1 is a 2 storey parking facility with a green roof. (Sketch of Concept 5)”

The Planning Partnership will unveil all of the concepts tomorrow at a public meeting scheduled for 7pm at City Hall. That said, there will also be additional consultation sessions next Fall, in which case they are looking for volunteers to provide input. Seeing as I’ve already lost one supermarket near my house this year, I suppose I’m going to have to make my voice heard to ensure Food Basics is saved. It wouldn’t hurt to keep the LCBO as well.

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...

3 thoughts on “Redeveloping the North Block

  • What happened to the rumors of turining the old cop shop and what is now food basics into much needed parking?

    Whatever they chose I wish they would put it on hold and build another bridge first. I dont think I can handle another year or more of commuting over that bridge everyday with major construction so close, it was bad enough when the K-Rock was being built.

  • This is pretty exciting, however 5 out of the 6 plans as Harvey mentions ignore the existing goodlife, lcbo, and food basics. All 3 of which in my opinion are great assets to the downtown. Especially if any sort of increased residential development is to occur in the area.

  • Where will I get my groceries?! I’m not standing in the ridiculous lines at the overpriced A&P. Food Basics HAS to stay. Like Harvey said, having lost No Frills already, this neighbourhood will be left with no place to buy groceries except the market square in the spring and summer.

    I also wonder what happens to places like Modern Fuel, one of the non-profit galleries that makes Kingston such an interesting place. Places like this are part of our identity as a small, community driven town. The last thing we need is room for more corporations to set up shop downtown. That’s what the township is for. I understand that the Gap and Urban Outfitters help our economy because the students love them and have mom and dad’s cash to spend there, but the students don’t necessarily venture to this area north of Princess so why are we pandering to them?

    I agree with Rhiannon that a bridge and more parking should be top priority before we start ripping down grocery stores to put in an H&M.

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