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Redevelopment raises uncertainty for Frontenac Mall businesses, clientele

The Frontenac Mall, which has been a Kingston landmark since its opening in 1967, is primed to receive a major residential development over the next two decades.

To accommodate the six apartment buildings proposed by the property owners for the nine-hectare site, the now 55-year old mall will be facing demolitions in three proposed phases over the next 25 years. The application for the proposed project is available in full through the City of Kingston.

Many businesses in the mall will have to move out at the end of March during the first phase of demolition. Businesses such as Avanta Spa, located in the northeast end of the mall, with indoor-only access have already begun the process of closing their doors.

The Frontenac Mall as it currently stands in January 2022. A number of the businesses within the mall are now closing in advance of a planned demolition for a proposed redevelopment of the site, such as Avanta Spa (pictured in the far right side above). But not all of the businesses will be closing right away, according to some of the owner/operators. Photo via Bayfield Realty Advisors Inc. website.

Businesses that have direct access from the exterior of the mall will continue to be open during this phase of the redevelopment. Food Basics, Value Village, and the Mandarin restaurant are among those that will remain.

Some might be happy to know that Frontenac Mall Coin Laundry, located in the rear, northwest end of the mall, will also be staying in business.

‘Some of us will stay until they bring the wrecking ball’

Frontenac Mall Coin Laundry & Dry Cleaning is one of the few businesses that will remain during the redevelopment of the site of the over 55-year-old mall.
Photo by John Casnig.

The coin laundry has been a cornerstone of the Frontenac Mall since it opened over 55 years ago. The current owner, Fernando Martins, has been managing the operation for the past 14 years. The business is most recently noted for its contribution as a central supply depot and drop-off location. Several mask-making groups donated over 4,300 masks, including the Healthcare Mask Crusaders Kingston, the Eastern Ontario Community Angels, and the Masks for KGH Sewing Group (according to their website).

In a phone interview with Martins on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, Martins expressed that he’s received multiple phone calls and comments from customers who are worried that he’ll be shutting his doors in March. Concerns may have arisen by misreading the January 11 article published by Global News, which stated that “businesses that have direct access from the Bath Road side of the mall will be allowed to stay”.

Martins disclosed that he was informed of the redevelopment plans by their landlord, Bayfield Property Management Inc., in September 2021. At that time, it was indicated that they may have to move out by March 31, 2022. As of the current moment, however, Martins believes that it will be much longer before he is asked to close down.

“It probably will be another year before they get all the final approvals, maybe two years”, he predicted.

“I’ll stay as long as I can pay my bills and provide services for those that want to use my facilities,” said Martins. “It’s kind of a shocker for some people. We’ve been getting phone calls and texts saying ‘Oh my gosh, what are you going to do?’ or ‘How am I going to do my laundry?'”

While he appreciates the support from the community and admits that his facilities provide ample space compared to other laundromats in the area, Martins admitted that “nothing lasts forever. You have to move on.”

In the meantime, Martin intends to keep his machines spinning for as long as he can.

Bayfield Property Management Inc. did not respond to requests for information regarding the Frontenac Mall Coin Laundry by time of publication.

Ted Hsu for MPP
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