During a special meeting last Wednesday evening, City Council voted to begin the process of developing the downtown property known as North Block 4. Located across from the KRock Centre and dubbed “the gateway to the downtown”, this area offers great opportunity to potential developers. Thus far, council has created a starting point for options for developing this prime downtown real estate. Councillor Brian Paterson explained the overall vision for the land:
We’ve established some key parameters to ensure the future development on the North Block property generates the highest possible value to the community. We’re looking at including a lot of exciting features for this development, like top quality architectural design, park space, convention centre facilities, new residential development and restoration and rejuvenation of heritage buildings on the property. This property will be a signature part of Kingston’s waterfront and downtown for years to come.
The list of criteria created by Council includes the following:
- The site is open to a full range of uses in the zoning permitted on Block 4.
- The City will consider proposals within a range of 6 to 18 storeys. This will still go through all of the normal planning and statutory approval processes.
- The City would consider proposals for reduced parking requirements related to the new development, as long as proper justification is provided and reasonable traffic demand management measures are included in the proposal.
- Council agreed with the on-site public parking requirement of 40 spaces.
- The City will include the heritage buildings in the sale of Block 4 and the developer would be responsible for the restoration.
- The City will consider all manner of value propositions, monetary consideration for the land, maximizing provision of public good items and maintaining a “break even” scenario, or proposals requiring a public funding component.
- On the conference centre possibility, Council passed a motion allowing proponents to include a conference facility component that might require alternate funding, but that a more detailed cost/benefit analysis would be necessary.
Council’s next step in the development process is to prepare the Block 4 site for proposals and to create a more detailed plan on how the request for proposals will be structured and evaluated. As with any development plan in Kingston or any other city, many people have their own opinions as to how spaces such as Block 4 should be used. Considering City Council’s outlined criteria, this week’s poll asks:
What sort of development do you think is the most necessary in Kingston's downtown core?
- Green Space (39%, 57 Votes)
- Residential (14%, 21 Votes)
- Parking (12%, 18 Votes)
- Retail (12%, 17 Votes)
- All of the above (12%, 17 Votes)
- A conference centre (5%, 8 Votes)
- Something else entirely (5%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 146
Noting that the options for development include both the requirement of 40 parking spaces and the consideration for reduced parking, it is clear that in this early stage of the process, City Council is leaving options open. The public is encouraged to give feedback via email ([email protected]), a comment form provided by the City, or through social media. Public opinion will be taken to a meeting later this month. In the meantime, Kingstonians can keep up-to-date on the process through the City of Kingston website and the Twitter hashtag #ygknorthblock4.
Thanks to The City of Kingston for today’s photo.