The City of Kingston has struck a deal with a local developer concerning the fate of two high-rise apartment buildings in the downtown core.
It’s a deal that both sides are expected to take to a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing early next year.
“It has a better design. It has slimmer towers, ground floor commercial and art galleries, cafes, and space that will really animate Queen Street and really add to the vibrancy of the downtown,” explained mayor Bryan Paterson.
Details of the compromise agreement with Homestead Land Holdings Inc. are contained in an information report to council Sept. 18.
The mayor says council agreed to the revised development terms following a closed-door council meeting in early August. Council went into open session to approve the “minutes of settlement” in a 9-4 vote. The development details have now been made public.
Some highlights of the revamped Homestead development include;
- two thinner building designs with 19 and 23 floors, respectively
- nearly 350 rental apartments
- each building will have a five- to seven-floor parking podium
- ground floor commercial space
- municipal art gallery
The buildings are to be located in the North Block area of the downtown at 51-57 Queen Street and 18 Queen Street-282 Ontario Street. Both locations have been used as municipal parking lots.
This marks the third time the project has been revised by the Kingston-based developer.
The initial proposal included two, 21-storey buildings. It was later revised to 17- and 19-storey buildings.
READ MORE: Homestead's previous high-rise proposal
Homestead is seeking Official Plan and zoning bylaw amendments to allow for more height and density in its proposed development. Last year, Homestead filed an appeal of its own project with the LPAT (formerly Ontario Municipal Board) based on city council’s apparent failure to make a decision on the project within a prescribed period of time.
City planners say the twin high-rise apartments feature new architectural designs with more glass and a slimmer footprint to lessen the impact on heritage, low-rise buildings in the downtown area, while promoting a pedestrian-friendly experience. They say Homestead has also agreed to make a community benefit contribution in the form of 241 square metres of space in one building for a ground level municipal art gallery.
“The gallery space will be leased to the City of Kingston for a 10-year term with a rent credit of $300,000,” according to staff.
City officials say they will take the settlement terms to the appeal board, which has a hearing slated from Feb. 4-15, 2019. Kingston has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in Ontario.
However, there are other community groups that may try to oppose the city-Homestead deal when it’s presented at the hearing.