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Westdell to intensify newly acquired London White Oaks mall

Local firm has other projects under development across London, Windsor regions

The White Oaks Mall in London, Ont., is now owned by Westdell DevelopmentCorp., which is assmebling a plan to densify the 46-acre property. (Courtesy Westdell)
The White Oaks Mall in London, Ont., is now owned by Westdell Development Corp., which is assembling a plan to densify the 46-acre property. (Courtesy Westdell)

The largest mall in London, Ont., could undergo a transformation over the next few years after being acquired by local company Westdell Development Corporation in an off-market deal with BentallGreenOak.

JLL’s Nick Macoritto and Matthew Smith approached Westdell and brokered the transaction involving the 50-year-old, 700,000-square-foot White Oaks Mall. Financial details haven't been disclosed.

The enclosed shopping centre sits on about 46 acres at 1105 Wellington Rd. near Highway 401 and offers nearly 180 stores and services and 3,350 parking spaces.

It's anchored by several major retailers, including Walmart and The Bay

“We're hoping that we can add multiple uses to it and bring in office, retail and residential under some form,” Westdell president Iyman Meddoui told RENX. 

White Oaks will become a transit hub

White Oaks will also become a transit hub for the local bus rapid transit system now under construction.

“Being a transit node, we think there’s a strong opportunity to take an already good and viable asset and make it better,” Meddoui said.

While plans for the White Oaks intensification are still in the early stages, Meddoui said Westdell likes to move quickly on such projects.

He also noted London and the other municipalities it has worked with have generally enabled the company to do that when it comes to development applications.

“We would anticipate that within 18 to 24 months we would have our first whatever-it's-going-to-be and whatever-it’s-going-to-look-like approved and potentially in the ground.”

Westdell’s other activity

Westdell was formed in London as a residential developer in the 1990s and then quickly moved into commercial real estate.

It owns more than 30 properties and is most active in southwestern Ontario, with London and Windsor being its two primary markets.

Westdell also owns the 135,000-square-foot Arnprior Shopping Centre in the town of the same name northwest of Ottawa.

“We’re a multi-faceted corporation,” Meddoui said. “We have our own development team, acquisition team, leasing team and property management services.”

Westdell recently redeveloped London's Wellington Gate Centre and is welcoming new tenants in addition to recent arrivals Wendy’s and Tahini’s at a location already occupied by Staples and Tim Hortons.

Westdell is actively seeking new opportunities in markets and neighbourhoods in need of commercial or mixed-use development as well as existing commercial properties with intensification potential, such as White Oaks.

A 142-unit apartment building called Aria is under construction at 420 Fanshawe Park Rd. E. in London, not far from the 185,000-square-foot Hyland Centre where Westdell is based along with several retailers, commercial and office tenants.

The company is seeking site plan approval to add 269 residential units to Hyland Centre.

Westdell owns a 20-acre, fully zoned development site at 1370 Fanshawe Park Rd. E. and a greenfield site at 952 Southdale Rd. where it’s proposing to build more than 130,000 square feet of retail and residential space.

There are plans to build three high-rise residential buildings with almost 500 units at 689 Oxford St. W. near Wonderland Road. The site is currently occupied by the 32,220-square-foot Oxford Capulete Centre retail plaza.

There are plans for an 18-storey, 188-unit apartment building called Oxbury Place on the 11-acre site of Oxbury Centre, a 170,000-square-foot retail plaza at 1299 Oxford St. E.

Westdell recently received approval to move forward with a 100-unit residential project in downtown London.

Meddoui is hoping some of these projects will move forward in 2024.

Westdell is also looking to intensify some of its Windsor retail properties that have land for additional development.

It will add 640 rental residences and 10,397 square feet of commercial retail space to a 9.53-acre property at 2700 Huron Church Rd. at the intersection of Tecumseh Road West.

More retail intensification proposed for London

Other London retail property owners are also looking to intensify their sites, according to Meddoui, who said it’s becoming “more and more common.” 

These intensification projects include: 

  • Cadillac Fairview’s CF Masonville Place, a 627,267-square-foot mall with more than 150 stores at 1680 Richmond St., where several residential buildings are proposed;
  • and KingSett Capital and Corpfin Capital Inc.’s Westmount Commons, a 530,000-square-foot-plus mall with 3,000 parking stalls occupying a 31-acre site at 785 Wonderland Rd. S., where the addition of six residential buildings with 898 units, as well as office and more retail space, has been proposed.

Meddoui said London has one of the lowest residential vacancy rates in the country and demand remains very strong, while there’s also a lot of activity in the condominium market.

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