If you follow development proposals in the GTA, you may have noticed that an increasing number of the region’s newest condo projects are slated to surround – or replace – some of the city’s aging shopping centres.
Eglinton Centre in Scarborough. Bayview Village in North York. Galleria Mall in Toronto. These are just some of the region’s struggling retail hubs looking to evolve as the population grows and homeowner’s lifestyle priorities change.
We broke it down for you to explain why this trend is making such waves in the industry:
They Are A Strategic Planning Opportunity
There are numerous reasons for the ongoing roster of proposals such as these. The province’s Places to Grow Act means that prime land for development is becoming more limited, both in the number of sites available and the sizes of the sites themselves.
In an effort to find development space in an increasingly densified city, it makes sense that firms are targeting these plots of land -- which are typically expansive -- close to transit options and usually home to low-rise structures only. Not only does this solve the problem of limited space, but it’s a perk for the retail industry in a market where online retailers are increasingly threatening storefronts and shopping centres.
They Urbanize Commercial Pockets
Recreating these spaces has the potential to breathe life into these commercial pockets, while creating central gathering hubs that serve a variety of needs. In fact, many of these shopping centres aren’t just undergoing retail upgrades; they’re on track to become entirely self-sufficient communities, complete with condominiums, townhomes, and shops. In some cases they’ll become new parkland, community resources and pedestrian networks.
As we mentioned, one of the most recent proposals like this involves Bayview Village Condos, a pre-construction development proposed by QuadReal Property Group.
The proposal calls for the redevelopment of the upscale Bayview Village Shopping Centre, a shopping station offering over 400,000 square feet of premium containing 110 stores, high fashion shopping, fine dining, gourmet groceries and retail services.
The new development is projected to include three new residential towers, a large public park and a sleek commercial addition. This change will make it not just an improved shopping experience, but a pedestrian-oriented community that people will want to live and spend time in.
It Repurposes Under-Utilized Land
The Galleria On The Park project in Toronto’s west-end has been receiving buzz for its replacement of a dilapidated mall that had long ago become under-utilized. Freed Developments – a firm with a knack for transforming urban pockets – has proposed 2,846 residential units, 21,108 Sq. Ft. of office space, and 296,040 Sq. Ft. of retail space for their expansive development set to be built on the site.
It’s A GTA-Wide Trend
It’s not just Toronto’s central neighbourhoods that are seeing this trend. In Scarborough, developers recently submitted a proposal for Eglinton Square (just east of Victoria Park Avenue). The application, while essentially leaving the current mall as is, calls for the 18-acre surrounding site to be divided into parcels, which will house a mix of condominiums, town homes and office space.
On the northwest corner of Kennedy and Sheppard, plans have been made for an overhaul of Agincourt Mall as well, proposing 250,000 square feet of new retail space alongside residential units and a public park.
Of course, there’s also the Yorkdale revitalization which involves a large portion of the mall’s 14-acre site and is arguably one of Toronto’s largest redevelopments currently in the works. This development will make Yorkdale your biggest walk in closet. You truly couldn't ask for a better attraction at your fingertips, considering the mall went through a 145,000 square feet $220 million renovation in 2014, and then a 300,000 square foot, $331 million expansion more recently in 2016. To put it into perspective, the mall opens its doors to 18 million visitors annually.
Homebuyers Benefit From These Projects
People are attracted to the idea of master-planned communities where they can live and have day-to-day needs at their fingertips -- instead of having to drive out of their way. Adding homes, parks and pedestrian networks to already-existing commercial centres just makes sense and we’re expecting to continue seeing proposals for projects like this.
Stay tuned to our site and social feeds for updates on some of these ongoing transformations.