If you want to visit Kingston for a short stay of a few days or a weekend, there are lots of great options: from traditional hotels, to historic boutique hotels, to bed and breakfasts, and more. (We’re biased, but The Frontenac Club is one you should definitely check out!)
What if you’re staying for several weeks, or even months?
While it’s not as common, Kingston does attract many visitors who come to town for lengths of time that make a home rental or purchase unfeasible, while also making a traditional hotel stay impractical.
For example: visiting academics, scholars, researchers, or graduate students needing seasonal residencies; out-of-town contract workers such as construction teams and film crews; those visiting family members who are ill and needing support due to medium- or long-term health challenges; artists-in-residence; and visiting members and longer-term guests of our military.
These are just a few examples of people who might need amenities not typically offered by traditional short-term accommodation options. And there are many people for whom this is a real need, as identified by Tourism Kingston in its destination strategy and in the city’s Housing and Homelessness Task Force report.
This is why we’ve proposed creating a 119-room extended-stay hotel at Union Park Kingston for stays that would tend to last weeks or months, rather than days.
To that end, this hotel will be a bit different than standard fare. For instance, this hotel would offer laundry services, car-sharing options, meeting spaces, a fitness facility, and workspaces within each room.
Keeping it all in balance
You may be wondering how we landed on a ten-story hotel. The simple answer is that we are trying to strike the right balance between respecting the heritage views and the land itself while also building a hotel that meets the identified visitor needs and can be viable.
Based on our projections, and given some of the challenges associated with redeveloping this site, the hotel would need somewhere between 115 and 130 rooms to sustain itself. Rather than build a wide building that would dominate the landscape, impact the heritage views of the administration building & Correction Services Museum, and reduce the open space, we chose to build up rather than out.
The main floor would offer ground floor retail uses, hotel back of house uses, and would connect to the primarily underground car and bike parking. The guest rooms would be located on the nine upper floors. At ten stories tall, the hotel would still be six floors shorter than nearby John Orr Tower.
We feel that since we have not impacted any of the identified heritage setbacks and view planes with our current plans, since the neighbours have all commented positively on how much open space we are proposing, and since there is no shadowing or overlook concerns given the proposed location of the hotel, that our team considered 10 stories to be the best overall option. We hope you agree.
Location, location, location…
Choosing the former Prison for Women side as the location for this hotel is ideal, as the site is nearby to downtown and major tourist amenities such as the Kingston Penitentiary. It’s also close to Queen’s and St. Lawrence College, as well as Providence Care and the Tett Centre. Even Royal Military College is just 15 minutes by bike, while CFB Kingston is just shy of 30 minutes on two wheels.
Speaking of bicycles, while we will offer parking and car-sharing at the hotel we will be encouraging bicycle travel for those who join us or that work at the hotel. At the same time, there would be strong transit and road linkages to the hotel for those who opt for four wheels instead.
In addition to its proximity to the places these visitors might need to access, the hotel will also be centrally located to some of the best of what Kingston has to offer with its proximity to Historic Portsmouth Village, downtown Kingston, and the waterfront. Bringing more visitors to the area will mean more activity at local businesses.
It will also mean those seeking longer-term stays are not competing with residents and prospective long-term residents for house rentals and other lease arrangements. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions start to wane and travel resumes, it is expected Kingston’s hot housing market will remain highly competitive.
While creating one new hotel can’t solve all the housing challenges we face as a community, adding new types of accommodation can help ensure more people can find a suitable place to live during their time in Kingston – no matter how long that may be.