North Block 4 FAQ's
Design guidelines for City-owned Block 4 were approved by Council and apply only to this City property and not the other privately owned blocks in the North Block District.
The sale of the property in the Block 4 area has been delayed while planning applications are reviewed for other privately owned properties and to accommodate parking needs until replacement parking is secured.
Here is a collection of frequently asked questions regarding Block 4 development of the North Block District. This list will be updated regularly. Questions or comments? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Parking - What is the City doing about replacing parking that will be lost once Block 4 begins construction?
The City has a budget (for 2015) to develop approximately 400 additional public parking spaces in the vicinity before construction on Block 4 begins and is exploring possible locations. Replacement of parking will be undertaken in a way that minimizes disruption to neighbours as Block 4 is constructed.
Parking - I thought the developer would be required to replace between 120-165 public parking spaces on the property, but now the website says just 40 public spaces will be needed. Why?
The City is working on a broader strategy for public parking downtown, trying to establish the appropriate number of public parking spaces needed on Block 4. The provision of 120-165 parking spaces (specified in a November 20, 2012 Report to Council) would add an enormous financial burden to the project. The number of 40 public parking stalls is based on the potential alternate provisions off-site, and is about the number of parking spaces available on Block 4 when the Rogers K-Rock Centre was completed (before the Police Station was demolished). The developer will also have to meet the parking requirements for their development in addition to offering 40 public parking spaces.
Parking - What are the parking requirements for new construction on Block 4?
The developer of Block 4 must provide parking according to the applicable Zoning Bylaws and parking requirements. Innovative approaches to reduce parking requirements may also be proposed for Block 4.
Parking - Where will the accessible parking be provided, during construction and once Block 4 construction is complete?
An appropriate number of accessible parking stalls will be provided in the near vicinity to support the Rogers K-Rock Centre and new development, during and after construction.
Transportation Impacts - How will a development at Block 4 affect traffic?
All the development scenarios being explored for this prime downtown location are conducive to transit and active transportation modes, so the impact on vehicular traffic during the peak hours is anticipated to be relatively minor.
The recent review of transportation impacts found that, as long as the majority of the development is for residential condominium or rental uses, with some limited supporting commercial uses at the street level, the impact on road traffic would be minimal. This is because:
- People living on Block 4 and driving to/from work would be moving against the heaviest rush hour traffic.
- Many major employers are within a reasonable walking or biking distance from Block 4.
- The area is well-served by transit and the East express bus route (May 2015) will have a stop directly in front of Block 4. Access to most other bus routes is a short walk from Block 4.
Events at the Rogers K-Rock Centre tend to be in the evenings or on weekends, when there would be minimal traffic from people living on Block 4.
Transportation Impacts - What are some of the ways to reduce the number of cars on Block 4?
Developers will be encouraged to look at innovative approaches such as supporting car share co-ops, providing bike lockers, and possibly even subsidies for bus passes for residents or tenants.
Transportation Impacts - Why is the transit hub no longer considered for North Block District?
The removal of the transit hub allows for greater development opportunities and intensification. The City wants the main transit hub to be closer to major employers – Empire Life, Hotel Dieu Hospital, City Hall, etc.
Heritage - Who will own and restore the heritage buildings?
The developer will purchase the heritage buildings at 19-23 Queen Street along with the remainder of Block 4 (not including the Hydro substation or adjacent laneway). They will be asked to provide their plans for the heritage buildings when they submit development proposals. Proposals will be evaluated, in part, on how consistent they are with the Design Guidelines and the Heritage Preservation Guidelines.
Heritage - How will the heritage buildings be protected?
There are mandatory requirements set out in the Heritage Preservation Guidelines. Aspects of the buildings are also identified as "should be preserved" or "consider for preservation". The Heritage Preservation Guidelines are supported by the Municipal Heritage Committee.
Heritage - I understand the heritage buildings on Queen Street (19-23 Queen Street) will be retained by the developer. Are the entire buildings/structures to be retained or just the facades?
According to a City-commissioned report, the buildings' envelopes need to be retained and restored, but aside from demising walls, there is little on the interiors that must be retained.
Heritage - How will the new buildings be required to respect and relate to the heritage buildings?
The Design Guidelines require:
- Building massing to protect views, minimize shading and wind effects and provide adequate setbacks from the heritage buildings so as not to overwhelm them.
- Building materials and finishes that respect the heritage of Kingston, but are used in a modern way.
- Design of building facades to respect the rhythms and proportions of the heritage buildings, but not mimic them too literally.
- Signage and lighting that respects the heritage of the site.
Building Heights - How high are the new buildings allowed to be?
Between 6 and 18 storeys, subject to planning approvals, including an Urban Design Study and Heritage Impact Statement, to provide the rationale for the maximum permitted heights.
The current zoning allows buildings to be a maximum height of 25.5 m, or about 6 storeys.
Because of unique costs associated with developing Block 4, there might be a need to allow additional building height in exchange for public benefits, such as:
- Preserving and restoring the 19-23 Queen Street heritage buildings
- Providing 40 public parking spaces
- Providing public courtyard and cross-block walkway
Other public benefits are optional for the developer to provide, but would be considered to support the rationalization for additional height:
- Providing a parkette of a minimum of 400 m2 on the corner of The Tragically Hip Way and Ontario Street
- Providing a "Walk of Fame" according to the requirements set out by the City
Contributing to an improved walkway to the Anglin parking lot
Building Heights - How will the City ensure that the redevelopment of Block 4 respects the current Official Plan and zoning bylaw provisions for height in this area?
The City's Official Plan policies and Zoning bylaw provisions will be maintained regarding height unless otherwise modified by Council.
Financial and Market Aspects - What is the market demand for development on Block 4?
The City sees residential demand from empty nesters, singles, young couples and other groups interested in sustainable downtown living – and a consistent but modest, long term demand for people living in the downtown who are looking for walkable communities with a maintenance-free lifestyle.
Financial and Market Aspects - What is the vacancy rate of downtown retail space?
The vacancy rate varies from month to month, and is now considered high. However the City does not anticipate a significant amount of new retail in Block 4. In addition, the more people that are encouraged to live downtown, the better it bodes for improving market demand for downtown retailers.
Financial and Market Aspects - Why is the City issuing a Request for Proposals and not simply putting the land up for sale or up for long-term lease?
The RFP offers an equitable process designed to achieve highest value for a desirable public asset. The property will be sold if the Proposal meets the requirements outlined in the Request for Proposals.
A leasing structure limits the value and marketability of the property. It would also effectively eliminate the use of the property for residential condominium purposes as our experts have advised that market demand for residential uses on leased land is weak.
Financial and Market Aspects - How long will the tax rebate program last and when can the City anticipate tax revenue from the development?
The tax rebate program will last from two-and-a-half to four years depending on the chosen development scenario.
Financial and Market Aspects - Has the City considered partnering with a Developer?
Council may be presented with the opportunity to engage in a partnership structure as a result of the RFP process.
Financial and Market Aspects - How will the cost of infrastructure upgrades be offset (policing/fire, etc.)?
The developer must pay development charges and impost fees as established in the City's DC and impost bylaws. Any site-specific servicing required for the development must be constructed and paid for by the developer.
Financial and Market Aspects - Why not relocate the hydro substation?
Moving the hydro substation would cost $10,000,000 – but where to put it is the bigger issue. Because of the type of service this substation provides, and the infrastructure that feeds to and from it, it needs to be very close to its existing location. It will stay in its existing heritage building.
Financial and Market Aspects - Will there be any offices and will there be fibre optic service?
Office use would be possible. Fibre optic service would likely be provided to this site.
Neighbourhood Issues - What will happen with Food Basics as a result of development on Block 4?
The Request for Proposal will be issued only for Block 4 (the City owned property). All planning work done to date acknowledges the importance of keeping a grocery store in this part of downtown.
Neighbourhood Issues - What are the shadows generated by the various scenarios?
Any specific development proposal the City ultimately receives would need to provide an impact analysis that includes shadowing, wind and view corridors. In addition to height, the form and orientation of the design of the new buildings will influence their impact on neighbouring properties.
Neighbourhood Issues - Have any archaeological studies been completed?
Yes. There are no archaeological constraints on Block 4.
Neighbourhood Issues - How will the City encourage good quality building and urban design?
The City has prepared Design Guidelines that provide Developers with a clear outline of the expectations for the quality of building and urban design. The Design Guidelines will be included in the Request for Proposals and will also be used to help in evaluating what Proposal is considered the best for the City.
Neighbourhood Issues - How will storm water run-off resulting from future development of the site be managed and contained so as to not affect adjacent sites?
Requirements for storm water management will be addressed through the City of Kingston's site plan control approval process in addition to sustainable development principals and best practices. As a condition of approval, new developments requiring site plan approval generally need to ensure that adequate storm water management will be maintained on site.
Neighbourhood Issues - At the open house in March, there were several booklets with design concepts for Block 4. When were these commissioned?
These were eight example projects from Queens Planning Department students. We felt it might be thought-provoking to have some of the free thinking ideas of students presented.
Brownfield Site and Contamination - What sort of information does the City have about the site contamination?
The City has already invested a significant amount in the clean-up of the property in 2000 and 2009. The Request for Proposals will include the Phase 1 and 2 Environmental Site Assessments, to allow bidders to formulate a Risk Management Plan (which may include some additional clean-up of the site) and obtain a Record of Site Condition, as required by the Ministry of Environment for re-use of contaminated lands.