Tips for Designing Retail Spaces in Mixed-Use Developments

Date:

Share post:

By Rami Kozman, Director of Landlord Services and Sales Representative, The Behar Group

Many years ago, before the peak of Toronto’s development boom, ground floor retail spaces in new multi-story condominium projects were often treated as an afterthought; an obligation imposed upon developers by unyielding planning requirements. Over time, the value of ground floor space has become increasingly appreciated by developers, both as an amenity for residents as well as a long-term income producing asset. Accordingly, there has been a growing appetite for truly mixed-use developments which offer functional and attractive rather than perfunctory retail space, but accommodating this kind of space carries its own unique challenges. Here are several general guidelines that should be taken into account when designing retail spaces in mixed-use developments:

Layout & Columns

It may sound obvious but the ideal retail space is typically rectangular, as it allows clear sightlines and is more adaptable for retailers that have developed and rely on a standard prototype floorplan. L-shaped, irregularly shaped, or excessively narrow units should be avoided. Typically 20’ of frontage will accommodate most small-format retailers. As a general principle, the fewer the columns the better, but being at the bottom of a multi-story tower, columns are unavoidable. Ideally, columns should be at least 20’ away from any wall or demising partition and especially where there are any doors, windows, or entryways. Where they are close to the building façade, consider integrating them with the façade itself, so that they are a component of the external wall of the unit. In order to maintain the option of demising a space into smaller units, columns should be aligned with each other along any grade changes and with any window mullions in a grid-like pattern.

(RENDERING: GREAT GULF/HULLMARK) 

Entrances

Generally different uses (e.g. condo, hotel, office, retail) should have separate and distinct lobbies/street entrances in order to avoid the complications of shared maintenance, business hours and security; however, in the case of office buildings, some retailers such as cafes and restaurants, often enjoy having internal access to the office lobby in addition to a street front entrance. This is especially true in foul-weather cities such as Toronto where building occupants often prefer to stay inside or underground rather than venturing into the rain and snow for lunch. When planning entrance locations, the ability to add additional entrances along the façades, or to move entrances, allows for greater flexibility in demising those spaces.

Ventilation

Different kinds of uses will have unique HVAC, power and gas requirements. One issue that restaurants often face is ventilation. Where retail space is envisioned as being tenanted by restaurant users, the ideal scenario is that a ventilation exhaust conduit be integrated with the design of the building, such that cooking fumes can be carried directly to the roof of the building. Where this is not possible, some municipalities may require the use of an ecologizer unit to purify the exhaust; however, this can represent a large upfront cost to purchase and install, as well as to maintain over time, thereby decreasing the viability of the space as a potential restaurant.

Loading

Loading is a critical issue, especially for larger tenants or tenants that have multiple deliveries throughout the day. Dedicated and covered loading docks are preferred, especially for retailers that carry goods that are highly valuable or prone to theft (e.g. alcohol), but in more restrictive urban settings rear laneways with proximate loading areas such as laybys may be sufficient. Any grade changes, turns or doors/access points between the loading area and the retail spaces should be minimized. Other important considerations include the size of trucks that can be accommodated, floor load capacity of both the retail space and corridors, and whether the loading area is shared with other building residents (and if so what restrictive rules may apply).

Other Important Considerations

Sound: Sound attenuation measures, such as a thicker concrete slab above the retail, may help to expand the range of potential tenants that produce excessive or unusual noise (e.g. restaurants, gyms, music schools, pet care).

Signage: One of the most important considerations for retailers is visibility, including where their signage will be permitted (e.g. building façade, canopy, window cling, pylon/standalone, sandwich board) and what kind of signage will be permitted (e.g. boxes, channel letters, blade signage, illuminated). In mixed-use buildings, this may include wayfaring signage within the building lobby and underground parking levels.

Parking: Though underground customer parking is not necessarily crucial in the kinds of urban settings where mixed-use developments are popular, where there is customer parking, it is important to understand how customers will be directed through the development, where they will exit at grade, and who will ultimately pay for their parking fees.

Top photo: The College by Tribute Communities. The Behar Group Realty Inc., Brokerage worked on leasing the retail space in the building.  

Rami Kozman is Director of Landlord Services, Sales Representative, at The Behar Group in Toronto. 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author

John Crombie Shares 6 Canadian Retail Trends to Watch for in 2023 [Interview]

Crombie, who's predictions usually come true, spoke at the ICSC Whistler Conference recently and discussed how retail in Canada is shifting as consumer habits change.

Video Interview: What Matters To Today’s Consumer in Canada

An expert talks about how consumers are looking for discounts and value, their concerns about their finances, how they are making fewer impulse buys and how they expect big companies to do good in society.

Major Condo Tower Rezoning Application Threatens a Block’s Worth of Toronto Restaurants

Developers say that they're responding to shifting urban trends, though only two small commercial spaces are proposed where a block of businesses currently operate.

Hudson’s Bay to Shut Londonderry Mall Store in Edmonton

The retailer will close one of its oldest locations in Alberta this summer as the retailer strategizes the future of its physical stores.

Toronto Six Professional Women’s Hockey Team Retail Presence Looks to Multi-channel Growth with On-Ice Success [Interview]

The President of women's professional hockey team the Toronto Six says that fans of teams are helping create a new revenue source.

Best Retailers for Customer Experience in Canada Ranked in Leger Study [Interview]

Thousands of Canadians were polled to determine which retailers came out on top, with some surprising findings.

Deciem Rebrands Many Stores as ‘The Ordinary’ as Company Shifts Focus and Retail Strategy [CEO Interview]

The popular beauty brand is refocusing some of its stores as 'The Ordinary' as Deciem grows its wholesale business with Sephora, and is also looking to launch new brands through its incubator engine.

Retailers Shifting Loyalty Programs to In-House as Businesses Drop Air Miles and Others [Interview]

An industry expert says that companies such as Starbucks have found success in its own loyalty programs, and consumer confusion with third-party programs is leading more retailers to develop their own.

‘Repair and Run’ Bike Maintenance Retail Concept Expanding to more Locations in Canada after Successful 1st Launch [Interview]

The bike repair business, founded by some of the people behind the launch and success of Mobile Klinik, is seeing success after opening its first store in 2021.

Earls to Launch New Restaurant Concept as Chain Expands Locations [Interview]

The Canadian chain is expanding its operations as consumers embrace in-person dining following the pandemic.

Canadians Should be Checking Receipts at the Grocery Store as Errors are Common [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that Canadians may not realize that the prices on the shelves and what's scanned might be different, and that there's sometimes an opportunity for compensation if there's been an error.

Retailer Bankruptcies Not as High as Expected in Canada Since Pandemic, but Uncertainty Persists: Insolvency Insider

The tsunami of business creditor protection filings didn't happen as predicted, but an expert says that a reduction of locations by some retailers as well as headwinds could lead to industry challenges.

Video Interview: How Red Tape Is Strangling Canadian Small Businesses

Laura Jones of CFIB talks about the impact of red tape on businesses across the country and why it's so important to their bottom line.

Italian Grocery-Restaurant Concept Lina’s Prepares to Open 15,000 sq ft Location in Calgary’s Inglewood [Photos/Interview]

The expanding business is based on the concept of an Italian public square or marketplace, making it a popular hub that has strong consumer loyalty.

Zellers to Launch Food Trucks in Effort to Drive Traffic to Bay Stores

The retailer has also all but confirmed the relaunch to the Zeddy teddy bear mascot as it prepares to open 25 locations inside of Hudson’s Bay stores this spring.

Cineplex Launches New ‘Junxion’ Entertainment Concept with Additional Canadian Locations Planned [Interviews]

The concept features movies, gaming, dining and live entertainment under one roof, with plans to roll it out to multiple Canadian markets this year as part of a growth strategy for Cineplex.

Queen Street West Retailers in Toronto Anxious about Metrolinx Ontario Line Construction [Interviews]

Construction has the community worried that they’ll experience a repeat of Eglinton line ‘nightmare’.

Ron White Marks 25th Anniversary of its Charity ‘Shoe Drive’ [Interview]

The Toronto-based brand, which has stores in the area, is taking in gently used footwear that still have life in them to give to those in need.

Supply Chain Issues for Canadian Retailers Expected into 2025: Expert

Various factors are contributing to ongoing challenges to coordinate the optimal availability of goods says Gary Newbury.

DTC Jewellery Brand Mejuri Continues Ongoing Expansion with More Stores in Key Canadian Markets [Interview]

Calgary and Montreal are the latest cities to see openings for the popular jewellery brand which is looking to gain market share with a growing loyal client base.

RECENT RETAIL INSIDER VIDEOS

Advertisment

Subscribe to the Newsletter

RECENT articles

John Crombie Shares 6 Canadian Retail Trends to Watch for in 2023 [Interview]

Crombie, who's predictions usually come true, spoke at the ICSC Whistler Conference recently and discussed how retail in Canada is shifting as consumer habits change.

Video Interview: What Matters To Today’s Consumer in Canada

An expert talks about how consumers are looking for discounts and value, their concerns about their finances, how they are making fewer impulse buys and how they expect big companies to do good in society.

Major Condo Tower Rezoning Application Threatens a Block’s Worth of Toronto Restaurants

Developers say that they're responding to shifting urban trends, though only two small commercial spaces are proposed where a block of businesses currently operate.

Hudson’s Bay to Shut Londonderry Mall Store in Edmonton

The retailer will close one of its oldest locations in Alberta this summer as the retailer strategizes the future of its physical stores.

Toronto Six Professional Women’s Hockey Team Retail Presence Looks to Multi-channel Growth with On-Ice Success [Interview]

The President of women's professional hockey team the Toronto Six says that fans of teams are helping create a new revenue source.

Best Retailers for Customer Experience in Canada Ranked in Leger Study [Interview]

Thousands of Canadians were polled to determine which retailers came out on top, with some surprising findings.

Deciem Rebrands Many Stores as ‘The Ordinary’ as Company Shifts Focus and Retail Strategy [CEO Interview]

The popular beauty brand is refocusing some of its stores as 'The Ordinary' as Deciem grows its wholesale business with Sephora, and is also looking to launch new brands through its incubator engine.

Retailers Shifting Loyalty Programs to In-House as Businesses Drop Air Miles and Others [Interview]

An industry expert says that companies such as Starbucks have found success in its own loyalty programs, and consumer confusion with third-party programs is leading more retailers to develop their own.

‘Repair and Run’ Bike Maintenance Retail Concept Expanding to more Locations in Canada after Successful 1st Launch [Interview]

The bike repair business, founded by some of the people behind the launch and success of Mobile Klinik, is seeing success after opening its first store in 2021.

Earls to Launch New Restaurant Concept as Chain Expands Locations [Interview]

The Canadian chain is expanding its operations as consumers embrace in-person dining following the pandemic.

Canadians Should be Checking Receipts at the Grocery Store as Errors are Common [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that Canadians may not realize that the prices on the shelves and what's scanned might be different, and that there's sometimes an opportunity for compensation if there's been an error.

Retailer Bankruptcies Not as High as Expected in Canada Since Pandemic, but Uncertainty Persists: Insolvency Insider

The tsunami of business creditor protection filings didn't happen as predicted, but an expert says that a reduction of locations by some retailers as well as headwinds could lead to industry challenges.

Video Interview: How Red Tape Is Strangling Canadian Small Businesses

Laura Jones of CFIB talks about the impact of red tape on businesses across the country and why it's so important to their bottom line.

Italian Grocery-Restaurant Concept Lina’s Prepares to Open 15,000 sq ft Location in Calgary’s Inglewood [Photos/Interview]

The expanding business is based on the concept of an Italian public square or marketplace, making it a popular hub that has strong consumer loyalty.

Zellers to Launch Food Trucks in Effort to Drive Traffic to Bay Stores

The retailer has also all but confirmed the relaunch to the Zeddy teddy bear mascot as it prepares to open 25 locations inside of Hudson’s Bay stores this spring.

Cineplex Launches New ‘Junxion’ Entertainment Concept with Additional Canadian Locations Planned [Interviews]

The concept features movies, gaming, dining and live entertainment under one roof, with plans to roll it out to multiple Canadian markets this year as part of a growth strategy for Cineplex.

Queen Street West Retailers in Toronto Anxious about Metrolinx Ontario Line Construction [Interviews]

Construction has the community worried that they’ll experience a repeat of Eglinton line ‘nightmare’.

Ron White Marks 25th Anniversary of its Charity ‘Shoe Drive’ [Interview]

The Toronto-based brand, which has stores in the area, is taking in gently used footwear that still have life in them to give to those in need.

Supply Chain Issues for Canadian Retailers Expected into 2025: Expert

Various factors are contributing to ongoing challenges to coordinate the optimal availability of goods says Gary Newbury.

DTC Jewellery Brand Mejuri Continues Ongoing Expansion with More Stores in Key Canadian Markets [Interview]

Calgary and Montreal are the latest cities to see openings for the popular jewellery brand which is looking to gain market share with a growing loyal client base.