Proposed Central Transit Hub

King and Victoria
Kitchener
ON

Proposed Central Transit Hub

Public/Mass Transportation

Overview

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ITCHENER — Regional council secretly spent almost $6 million to buy most of two blocks, to build a central transit hub in downtown Kitchener.

The facility will front on Victoria Street North, between King and Duke streets across from the Kaufman lofts.

The long-proposed plan, always targeted for King and Victoria streets, could bring together GO Transit commuter trains and buses, Via Rail passenger trains, Grand River Transit buses, Greyhound and other intercity buses, and rapid transit if ultimately approved.

“People can move from one system easily to the other,” Regional Chair Ken Seiling said.

“We’ve brought everything to a common point. That’s the weakness in a lot of municipalities. They have a train station in one place, a bus terminal at another place, and sometimes the two don’t fit together very well.”

Redevelopment of the site could include commercial, office and residential space, possibly in partnership with private developers. Construction may be just over two years away, after a plan and business case is prepared. No decisions have been made on demolitions.

Council has been acquiring the properties since 2008. It revealed four purchases Wednesday.

Acquired properties include a Korean grocery, the vacant Rumpel Felt factory, the End of the Roll flooring products store and the Noble Trade plumbing business. All that’s missing is the Beer Store site on King Street that council still hopes to include in the redevelopment.

Some Grand River Transit buses would relocate from the Charles Street terminal. Its future is uncertain. Seiling expects Via Rail to join the central transit hub. It’s not known how this would affect its nearby station.

Council gave the go-ahead behind closed doors to start purchasing land in August 2007. Regional government used an outside lawyer who did not reveal the buyer, to avoid tipping off owners who might drive up prices.

16 Victoria St. N. was purchased in May 2008 for $1.2 million.

50 and 60 Victoria St. N. were purchased in December 2008 for $3.2 million.

510 King St. W. was purchased last month for $1.4 million.

Seiling contends taxpayers got a good deal. He compares the average purchase price, at just under $2 million per acre, to the provincial courthouse that’s under construction at Weber and Frederick streets. It cost just over $3 million an acre.

Seiling does not believe council acted prematurely. Politicians started buying land a year before they proposed a contested rail transit system in Kitchener and Waterloo.

That proposal, costing up to $800 million, is still without final approval and was widely panned in the recent municipal election. But Seiling contends a central transit hub makes sense with or without rapid transit. “It’s pretty exciting,” he said.

GO Transit is launching two commuter trains a day late next year, from Kitchener to Toronto in the morning and then back to Kitchener in the early evening.

The site for the central transit hub is about three acres, with 240 metres of frontage along the CN Railway tracks. A regional report states: “The assemblage has strong appeal for attracting large developers interested in partnering with the region in future redevelopment of the site.”

Council said its next steps, expected to take just over two years, will involve:

Refining objectives. This includes a cost and revenue analysis, studying expected users, and assessing functional requirements, including commercial opportunities.

Preparing a conceptual plan. This includes studies on how the facility will operate, how it will meet regional needs, and defining office and commercial densities.

Developing a business case. This would include more financial analysis, more studies on development potential, and risk assessment.

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