Developer cites frustration with city, Utilities Kingston in decision to cancel development

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Former 1st avenue public school property development cancelled according Braebury Properties owner – Nov 21, 2018

Demolition work at the former First Avenue Public School property continues but plans to redevelop the property have been cancelled.

Peter Splinter, the owner of Braebury Properties, is laying the blame at the feet of city staff and Utilities Kingston.

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Splinter says his company originally planned to build single-family houses or townhomes.

Utilites Kingston demands were too onerous Splinter told Global Kingston in an email.

“They wanted us to remove all the pipes and install new infrastructure, new roads, new curbs, new sidewalks on Kingscourt and Nelson.”

Kingscourt Avenue and Nelson Street are on the east and west sides of the property, respectively.

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Splinter claims those costs made the original plan no longer financially feasible.

Utilities Kingston president, Jim Keech, says the infrastructure is old and most likely would have needed to be replaced, but says the intent was never for the developer to pay the whole cost.

“From our perspective, I think that needs to be a cost-sharing. I don’t think it’s fair that the developer pays all of it, I think Utilities Kingston should do part of it.”

Splinter also expressed frustration with city planners.

He says his company came up with multiple designs for the property and was told by city staff that they wanted more urban intensification.

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“Every time the feedback was negative requesting us to change this or that.”

The city’s director of planning, Paige Agnew, says changes and multiple meetings during the pre-application process aren’t uncommon.

Agnew adds the work done by city staff to help developers comes free of charge.

“Sometimes the advice of city staff isn’t always taken and reflected in re-submissions and therefore the conversation continues.”

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Splinter when he finally met with senior city staff, the outcome was disappointing.

“We were told specifically that density was not an issue as long as the buildings were no more than three stories and parking was underground.”

Splinter says they came up with another plan only to be told the density was too high.

Agnew says that’s not typically the advice staff would give a developer.

“What we’re always talking about is the balance between density on a site, the way it’s designed, making sure there’s adequate parking and outdoor space.”

Splinter says he is now trying to cut his losses and sell the property.

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