Between the meteoric rise of online shopping and the growing brick-and-mortar dominance of glossy supermalls like Yorkdale , Torontonians have less and less of a need for smaller community shopping centres.
What we do need in Canada's largest city and desperately is housing... ideally of the affordable nature.
Recognizing this (and perhaps noting all of the other mall-centric mega developments proposed for Toronto in recent years,) a company called North American Development Group (NADG) is moving ahead with its plans to redevelop Scarborough's derelict Agincourt Mall into a brand new master-planned, mixed-use community.
The sprawling site at Shepperd Avenue and Kennedy Road currently contains a Wal-Mart, an LCBO, a Beer Store, a Pet Value, a BMO bank, a Shoppers Drug Mart, several fast food chains, oodles of surface parking, and an enclosed, 1960s-era shopping centre anchored by No Frills.
NADG wants to redevelop this roughly 26-acre plot of land into a vibrant, sustainable urban community with some 4,400 new residential units, 270,000 square feet of office space, 110,000 of office space, and a whole host of public realm improvements.
"Our Plan is a unique city-building opportunity to create a mixed-use community which reflects trends of living, shopping and working in an urban landscape," reads a website dedicated to the project.
"This calls for contemporary architecture and exceptional and memorable streets, squares and interior landscapes."
One of the company's key goals is to create a central "retail square" surrounding by "accessible complete streets" where priority is given to pedestrians.
The square will act as a community gathering space surrounded by restaurants, cafes, markets and park land. Rows of shade trees will shelter residents and visitors at the square in what NADG calls "the manner of the retail promenade."
A brand new street pattern will be created throughout the site, better linking the spaces within to the surrounding Scarborough community.
In fact, NADG hinges a significant portion of its plan on tapping into existing infrastructure.
"New roads will create additional options in a community that is currently well-served by transportation routes," reads the plan.
"Our design incorporates great streets for everyone with connection to the larger surrounding community, the GO Train and future subway/LRT/SmartTrack."
Calling the Agincourt Mall site "exceptionally well located," developers also point to the fact that seven parks can be found within a 15 minute walk and praise the adjacent Agincourt Public Library, which will remain standing as is.
The new mixed-use community itself will contain a total of 10 buildings across seven blocks, each with their own distinct feel and purpose.
Along with retail, office and public space, residential units will be spread across a variety of building types, including high rises with six to eight-storey podiums, midrise complex, and a cluster of townhomes.
"Renewal at Agincourt Mall can be a catalyst in strengthening one of Scarborough’s most significant neighbourhoods," writes NADG of the plan.
"Creating new community infrastructure will make this area of Toronto more vibrant, more connected and better suited for tomorrow."
If all goes well with the remainder of its municipal approval process, NADG will begin construction on the project sometime in 2021.
All of the buildings currently standing will be torn down as part of a phased construction process, according to a company VP who spoke to Retail Insider, save for the Agincourt Library.
Instead, a new community centre will be built with the purpose of connecting to the library, giving locals even more of a reason to check out the recently-renovated TPL branch.
Like Cloverdale Mall, Galleria Mall and the Dufferin Mall, Toronto's Agincourt Mall will completely transform over the next decade into a space where people can not only grab a Cinnabon, but work, shop, play and live.
By Lauren O'Neil www.blogto.com