Developer eyes Kingston's shuttered women's prison
Transformation would respect heritage of 1930s-built P4W, bidder promises
A notorious piece of Kingston, Ont., history could soon be in for a major transformation.
The former federal maximum security Prison For Women, known as P4W, operated from the mid 1930s to the early 2000s, and sits right across the street from the former Kingston Penitentiary.
It's been sitting empty for years, and a developer has come forward with a plan for the roughly 3.5-hectare parcel of land and the historic building that sits on it.
We're going to take off the appendages that have been added that don't belong to it, and we're going to restore it back to its original [state].- Hank Doornekamp, owner of ABNA Investments Ltd.
The property had years ago been bought by Queen's University for possible use after it was decommissioned, but the university later abandoned those plans and put the building back up for sale earlier this year.
ABNA Investments Ltd., based in Odessa, Ont., submitted a bid and expects to close the sale "sometime this week," company owner Hank Doornekamp said in a phone interview Monday.
Plans are only preliminary, but Doornekamp said they're looking at a new mixed residential and commercial building that will "complement" the architectural and historical character of the prison.
He wouldn't say how many units or what kind there would be, citing the pending sale.
Student residence, hotel
Possible uses for the actual prison building, which enjoys heritage protections both inside and out, include a possible student residence and hotel in the summer months.
"It's a beautiful building. We're going to take off the appendages that have been added that don't belong to it, and we're going to restore it back to its original [state]," Doornekamp said.
"There are some areas that we will look at [heritage] leniency ... but in general terms we're going to respect the heritage aspects of the building and we're going to improve those."
Doornekamp said his construction firm did "a lot of work" at the prison in the past, noting the prison's original gates are now at the entrance to his own home. "So I have an attachment to it," he said.
'A lot of excitement and anticipation'
Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said residents are keen to know the details.
"It sits really in the heart of the urban core of the city, so it's one of those properties that has long garnered a lot of interest locally to know what would the future of that property be," Paterson told CBC Radio's Ontario Morning on Monday.
In addition to seeking some leniency with heritage protections, the developer will request tax rebates from the city to help fund the cleanup of environmental contamination at the site.
There's no dollar figure yet, Doornekamp said.
Once the developer works out the details with the city, "there would be a process ... to be able to work through those details, and have opportunity for input from the public to make sure that it's a development that would fit well with the surrounding area," Paterson said.
For example, would the the city want the developer to kick in some affordable housing units as part of the deal?
"Right now, to be honest, we're just looking to see an increase in the supply of housing in general to keep housing affordable across the community," he said.
With files from CBC Radio's Ontario Morning