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Economy

Highrises not part of the vision for downtown Kingston, says former city councillor

The city is torn on two proposed highrise apartment buildings in the downtown core.

The City of Kingston is torn on two proposed highrise apartment buildings in the downtown core. Former city councillor and Kingston resident Vicki Schmolka says the planned rental apartment buildings break countless guidelines that she helped outline.

“Its height, density, number of parking spaces, size of accessible parking spaces, the use of the ground floor. The ground floor should be more interactive with people, people coming and going like a yoga studio, a daycare, a restaurant.”

The two buildings located along Queen Street were originally supposed to have public parking to help alleviate the loss of the lots they will be built on. That plan has since fallen apart and Mayor Bryan Paterson says that city staff are now reviewing the newest plan.

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The new proposal outlines a decrease in height, from 21 storeys to 17 and 19, which will house 400 residential rental units.
On Thursday, the planning committee held a public meeting to discuss the new plans and collect feedback on what community benefits could come from this project, should it be approved by council.

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Paterson says the city plans on negotiating with the developer, Homestead.

“If there is potential to be able to negotiate community benefits, that’s something that certainly as a city, we would be interested in exploring.

“And again, it is not something where we would be giving away something for extra height. It’s something where, if it fits within the zoning, if it’s already going to be approved — is there a way the city could get an additional investment in and around the area? So, that’s something where we will have those discussions and see where things go.”

Currently, the project is out of council’s hands as Homestead filed an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) over the city’s failure to make a decision on the project within 180 days. Schmolka is expecting the city to fight against these buildings at the OMB hearings.

“We had experts telling us how to profitably and effectively develop downtown, to fill in the gaps, to intensify and maximize the land uses in downtown. These two buildings rob that whole plan of its essence.”

No OMB hearings have been scheduled for the project.

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