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Downtown Kingston’s Capitol Condo project reduced to 12 floors in revamped design

IN8 Developments Inc. unveils a revised 12-storey Capitol Condo project for 223 Princess Street.
IN8 Developments Inc. unveils a revised 12-storey Capitol Condo project for 223 Princess Street. City of Kingston planning documents

Kingston’s Capitol Condo project is in the process of being downsized.

Darryl Firsten, president of IN8 Developments Inc., has produced a revised application for the downtown condominium project at 223 Princess Street, which has been the focus of much public and political debate in recent years and a Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) hearing.

“We submitted a new application for the same site, and it was deemed complete by the city a few days ago,” said Firsten in an interview.

READ MORE: Developer Darryl Firsten says Kingston needs more intensification

IN8 had to submit a number of detailed traffic, parking, wind, shadowing, heritage impact and other studies in order for planners to deem the latest application complete, but that doesn’t guarantee political support.

The revised 12-storey Capitol Condo building would be situated closer to the Queen Street side of the property.
The revised 12-storey Capitol Condo building would be situated closer to the Queen Street side of the property. City of Kingston planning documents

The new plan is for a 12-storey building that includes greater setbacks from the street, main floor retail space on the Queen Street side of the building, and no provision for off-site parking.

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“It’s a smaller building — about 40 per cent smaller in volume,” Firsten explained.

Firsten believes the revised application will address lingering concerns about the impact of the residential highrise on neighbouring heritage buildings, one of the key reasons why the initial 16-storey building was rejected by LPAT just over a year ago.

READ MORE: LPAT denies Capitol condo project in 2018

He pointed to a peer review the city had commissioned when the original application was made.

The review by architects suggested, among other things, that a height in the “low teens” would be acceptable.

“I would define low teens as 13 or 14 floors. What we are proposing is 12, plus a mechanical penthouse.”

The initial 16-storey Capitol Condo application was rejected by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal in 2018, following appeals by several citizens and community groups.
The initial 16-storey Capitol Condo application was rejected by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal in 2018, following appeals by several citizens and community groups. City of Kingston planning documents

Firsten says the new development will have 147 condominium rental units, down from the original 212 units, with a mix of bachelor, one, two and three bedrooms units.

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But while he’s optimistic with the revised plans, IN8 still intends to fight LPAT’s denial of his 16-storey building application in Divisional Court.

The judicial case is expected to be heard in April, he explained.

READ MORE: Divisional Court to hear Capitol condo appeal

He believes the lower building — though it may be more palatable for the community and city hall — will not benefit the city’s residential intensification needs in the long term.

“As more people live in Kingston they’re going to need more buildings like mine. But it’ll be too late if I’m left with 12 storeys.”

Of his downsized design, Firsten bluntly stated: “This design sells the city short.”

Under the site’s current zoning rules, any building that’s eight floors or lower would not require rezoning.

The revised 12-storey downtown condo project includes 147 residential units and 96 on-site parking spaces, along with a stepped-back design on the upper floors.
The revised 12-storey downtown condo project includes 147 residential units and 96 on-site parking spaces, along with a stepped-back design on the upper floors. City of Kingston planning documents

Firsten says there are other factors besides height that people should focus on with his revamped application.

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He says it fits the site’s requirement for a 45-degree angular plane, a zoning term that requires the upper floors of the building to be stepped back from Princess and Queen Streets in order to minimize the visual impact on pedestrians.

Also, everything above the ninth floor will have a lower “floor plate” of 750-square metres, minimizing the building’s impact on the surrounding neighbourhood, he adds.

The original proposal to locate some of the condo parking spaces into an expanded municipal parking lot on Queen Street has also been scrapped.

READ MORE: Kingston hikes municipal parking rates

All 96 proposed parking spaces will be located within the building in one underground level and two above-ground parking lot spaces, plus 176 bicycle spaces.

“All of the parking will be located beneath the building.”

And he says instead of three parking lot exits and entrances off Queen Street there will now be two.

The revised design will launch a new round of public and political debate.

The application is expected to be the focus of a mandatory public meeting at the city’s planning committee Feb. 20.

It would then be up to city planners to produce a recommendation for the committee, and ultimately the entire council, to decide whether to approve the new design.

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Toronto-based IN8 Developments purchased the former Capitol movie theatre at 223 Princess Street with plans to transform the property in a high-rise condominium.
Toronto-based IN8 Developments purchased the former Capitol movie theatre at 223 Princess Street with plans to transform the property in a high-rise condominium. CKWS TV

Even though the main address to the building would be on Princess Street, site of the old Capitol movie theatre, the bulk of the building footprint would be located closer to Queen Street.