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University proposes new residence building for main campus

Visitors to the public information session were able to view a scale model, preliminary plans, and renderings of a student residence project which is being proposed to be built on university property along the west side of Albert Street. (University Communications)

Students may soon have a new residence building on Queen’s University’s main Kingston campus.  The project is in the early planning stages and still requires Board of Trustees approval to proceed.

Approximately 50 near-campus neighbours attended a public information session on Tuesday, June 25 to learn more about the project, which is being proposed to be built on university property along the west side of Albert Street, just south of Union Street across from Tindall Field. The site was identified for potential redevelopment in the university’s 2014Campus Master Plan. The size and location of the property made it the preferred location to allow for a roughly 300-bed, five-story complex that is complimentary with the surrounding neighbourhood.

The new residence is required to accommodate plans for modest enrollment growth as well as to provide a place to decant students from other residences as older buildings undergo renovations, such as the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC) renovation, which, once it begins, will displace nearly 100 residential units. The new building will enable Queen’s to continue to meet its commitment to provide residential living to all first-year students while still accommodating some upper year students.

The project team is working closely with the city to ensure factors such as heritage elements, neighbourhood integration, and environmental stewardship are addressed in the plan. The university has also made efforts to reach out and inform the local community early.

“As a neighbor, it is important to share our concepts for this build with the local community as early in the process as possible,” said Donna Janiec, Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration). “It provides an opportunity for input as we are a ways off from finalizing plans- the Board will not review the proposal until after the fall term begins in September.”

There are currently five houses on the site and Queen’s is working with occupants to find alternate solutions.

While none of the buildings are currently designated as heritage sites, Janiec points out that the university is still planning to take a creative approach to preserve some of the unique look and feel of the area by retaining and incorporating two of the existing buildings into the design and to retaining the existing boulevard trees.

“As a leader promoting sustainability on campus and in the community, it is important that we strive for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification in all our new builds,” notes Janiec.

She also points out there will be no food service outlet in the residence, limiting the number of deliveries to the building.

The university’s Capital Assets and Finance Committee must still approve the business plan before the project can proceed to the Board of Trustees for approval, anticipated in September 2019.

If the plan is approved, construction is anticipated to start in the spring/summer of 2020.