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Former prison for women development in Kingston passes next step of approval

A massive redevelopment is on the table for Kingston's former prison for women. Global News

A proposed redevelopment of the former prison for women site in Kingston’s Portsmouth district has passed the next stage of the approval process.

The matter was before the city’s planning committee meeting Thursday night, and while the motion was eventually unanimously approved, it was not without its detractors.

Several residents spoke to the committee, including Liz Grier, who was concerned about the change to the neighbourhood, the height of the project and the potential for constant shadowing.

“If this application is approved, these allowable heights will be attached to the lots forever and the developer will be free to sell individual blocks. Residents need to be informed,” Grier said.

Matt Dixon also spoke and he, too, was worried that the wall of buildings known as Block 3 would cause a lack of sunlight for nearby homes.

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“The developer acknowledges that some yards like ours could have up to four hours of shade in the morning, so probably no sunlight until almost 11 a.m.,” Dixon said.

But while some residents raised concerns, city staff were adamant that they were satisfied with the process.

Staff reiterated that the project would not leave homes in the darkness of shadow.

The plan would see the former prison administration building and cellblock along Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard turned into a seniors’ continuum of care, a hotel and condos.

The applications proposed are to divide the 3.2-hectare parcel into seven blocks.

Blocks 1 through 4 would see significant development. According to staff, Block 2 would accommodate the use of the administration building in the cellblock of the former prison for women to include 24 dwelling units. As well, a modern addition is being removed to facilitate a new addition to the existing heritage building.

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On Block 3, there would be a seniors’ housing continuum of care proposed at the northwestern portion of the site, with 141 retirement units and 74 seniors’ apartments, along with a personal service shop on the ground floor, staff say.

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Block 4 would also be primed for development and could see a 10-storey mixed-use building with commercial on the ground floor and either a hotel or a multi-unit residential use on the upper floors.

“The building has been carefully designed to be set back sufficiently from Sir John Macdonald Boulevard to conserve views of the heritage building,” City of Kingston senior planner Lindsay Lambert said.

As for Block 1, the staff recommendation restricts development and requires a future public process through a separate zoning bylaw amendment application to establish permitted uses and performance standards on the block.

The fate of the project now rests in the hands of the next city council, once it’s elected.

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