A new, youth-focused development will soon be located at the corner of Princess and Albert Streets according to the plans Home Base Housing (HBH) revealed today for the Princess Street United Church (PSUC) site.
The property, acquired by HBH last summer, will remain home to the church congregation, but will also add a cultural arts centre, a new services hub, up to 60 units of transitional and supportive housing, as well as a skills training centre and potential restaurant and café — All without sacrificing existing church services at the site.
Development will be done in several phases, first by relocating One Roof Youth Services Hub, which provides access to nearly 30 youth-focused services, from Barrie Street to the new site, which is anticipated to be done by the end of the year.
The project was created in discussion with the church members, said Tom Greening, Executive Director of Home Base Housing,
“We’ve got great partners in the church to work with. They have also said that they have really dedicated congregation members who would like to be here to help with the programs and service that will be offered here,” Greening said.
“We’re really trying to develop a collective,” he added, noting that some of the banquet and kitchen spaces will be used by both groups using the site.
While the exterior and heritage building will remain intact, there are plans to renovate the interior of the space to create a cultural centre, which will be used for artistic programming. The PSUC congregation will use the cultural space for its services.
Kim Garrison, pro tem Chair of the Trustees of Princess Street United Church was equally excited about the project.
“We were fortunate enough to find a solution that matched our beliefs and also allowed us to keep the building that we’ve been worshiping in intact. It took a very sad situation for our members and put a positive ending to it.” Garrison during remarks as the project was unveiled.
While the agreement was that that no changes would be made to church services for the next 10 years, both Garrison and Greening noted that the agreement is more open and flexible than that and could continue far longer. Use of the space may not be the only thing shared between the two groups.
“The has been talk,” Garrison added, “that youth could learn some skills, especially cooking and kitchen skills from our seniors, who would be happy to help.”
In addition to the redevelopment of the existing site, plans include a six-storey transitional housing complex with up to 60 units, which Garrison notes is going to need planning approvals with the City of Kingston and will take up to a year to finalize.
The housing project would likely be a candidate for further funding.
“This is a remarkable way to make sure that the legacy of this church continues on for many years to come,” said MP Mark Gerretsen.
“The federal government is extremely passionate about investing in affordable housing for those in need,” he added, noting that “millions of dollars” could be available.
MPP Ian Arthur echoed similar sentiments on the provincial level.
“It’s too early to talk about the amount,” Arthur said, “but the provincial government and the Trillium Foundation are looking forward to supporting this project.”
If all goes to plan, according to Greening, doors could open on the housing project by the end of 2022.