Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust has unveiled a long-term plan to revitalize and redevelop its Golden Mile Shopping Centre in Toronto.
“One of Choice Properties’ main avenues of growth and value creation is to invest in its properties to add value and improve usage,” said vice-president of investor relations and business intelligence Kim Lee. “A key focus for us is to expand our development program to include mixed-use redevelopment to transform our urban, transit-oriented retail sites into mixed-use communities that will be better able to serve and respond to future community needs.”
Choice Properties has filed an official plan amendment (OPA) with the City of Toronto to transform the 19-acre site at 1880 Eglinton Ave. E., which sits on the north side of the street between Victoria Park and Pharmacy avenues. The two north-south streets will be the home of future light rail transit (LRT) stations on the Eglinton Crosstown line that’s now under construction.
Eglinton Crosstown LRT is key part of plan
“The Eglinton Crosstown LRT is intended to support residential, employment and retail growth,” said Lee.
“Eglinton Ave. is already a significant east-west arterial and is expected to play an even more important role in connecting neighbourhoods and linking the broader region through the introduction of the LRT. We expect the LRT to have a positive impact to the site and the area as a whole.”
The Golden Mile property now comprises 237,000 square feet of retail space anchored by a No Frills food store.
Choice Properties envisions six new development blocks with a connected network of new streets and open spaces featuring retail shops, anchored by a Loblaw-bannered food store, along with a range of new housing types and employment uses that will vary in height and density. It’s proposed that the site will comprise approximately 89 per cent residential, nine per cent retail and two per cent office.
Various housing options
“We announced submitting an OPA that proposes approximately 2,500 new residential units,” said Lee. “Specific housing options under consideration include rental apartments, condominiums, seniors’ housing, affordable rental, and/or affordable ownership.
“Appealing to a broader array of residents will support the creation of a complete community. As the planning stages of the development proposal proceed toward a rezoning, the specific mix of housing unit types and tenures, including the planned integration of affordable housing, will be further refined in discussions with the City staff.”
Choice Properties’ principal tenant and largest unitholder is Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada’s largest retailer.
“Our merchandising strategy would be to lease to tenants that benefit from and complement the everyday shopping traffic of the anchor,” said Lee.
Site will include park and public squares
Choice Properties’ site proposal includes a new public park and two public squares to reinforce it as a destination and neighbourhood hub. Development will be phased, starting with the relocation of the existing food store, followed by the demolition of the existing mall and the development of the park and an east-west street through the property.
“We believe our proposed range of open spaces and new streets that prioritize pedestrians support an enhanced and vibrant public realm that will be inviting to both residents and visitors to the area,” said Lee.
While no timelines are yet in place due to the unknown variables involved with receiving approvals, Choice Properties is hopeful of initiating the first phase as early as 2018. Lee added that, given how early it is in the process and the long-term nature of the project, there are no firm cost estimates for the redevelopment yet.
Choice Properties develops, owns and manages retail and commercial real estate across Canada. Its portfolio spans approximately 43.3 million square feet of gross leasable area and consists of 535 properties that are primarily focused on supermarket- and drugstore-anchored shopping centres as well as stand-alone supermarkets and drug stores.