This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Lawrence Square Shopping Centre in Toronto. To mark the milestone, landlord RioCan has rebranded the centre which is seeing a major renovation that will be completed in the spring.
The centre is now officially called the Lawrence Allen Centre, which is fitting given its location at the northwest corner of Lawrence Avenue West and the Allen Expressway.
The reimagined shopping centre is adding dynamic new retail tenants, a modernized interior, and upgraded amenities. All are focused on ensuring that the Lawrence Allen Centre acts as a pillar within the rapidly changing Lawrence Heights neighbourhood. The renovated interior features clean lines, natural light, and an uncluttered and inviting space, intentionally creating an ideal environment for the community to shop, eat, and gather.
John Ballantyne, senior vice president Asset Management RioCan, says that the aim of the project is to re-establish a community within the Lawrence Allen Centre.
“We wanted to ensure that the Lawrence Allen Centre was comfortable in terms of clean, accessible bathrooms, a welcoming and well-equipped food court, and an open, friendly atmosphere throughout.”
Updates to come will include more efficient parking services as well as a new glass atrium and updated roof infrastructure.
The location is said to be strategic. “It’s right beside a busy subway stop, Lawrence West station, and in the midst of a very residential community. Both create the need for a community hub. This is our main focus,” Mr. Ballantyne went on to explain.
Within the coming months, RioCan promises further enhancements within the Centre, with a continued focus on curating its retail mix and evolving its services to fit the growing community. “Riocan recognizes the importance of investing in our assets and communities in which we operate. Lawerence Allen Centre will serve as the hub in this important and rapidly redeveloping Toronto neighbourhood and we look forward to being part of the continued growth and prosperity here,” said Jonathan Gitlin, President and COO of Riocan. “We focused on enhancing the existing spirit of the neighbourhood, ensuring the design, service, and retail mix suit the immediate and long-term needs of the community.”
Located at 700 Lawrence Avenue West, the Lawrence Allen Centre is mere steps from Lawrence West subway station and just west of the Allen Road. It is situated within one of the most significant redevelopment projects in Toronto’s history, Lawrence Heights, which is Toronto Community Housing’s largest revitalization ever undertaken.
Over the years, Lawrence Square serviced the surrounding community with more than 80 stores, covering 657,821 square feet of both retail and office space (304,000 square feet of office space and 373,000 square feet of retail space).
Larger retailers such as Canadian Tire, Fortinos, Marshalls, HomeSense, and PetSmart have called the Centre home for some time now, with contemporary furniture store Structube being one of the most recent retail tenants to move in. Zellers was once an anchor store for the centre. However in 2013, its departure provided the opportunity for Marshalls, PetSmart, and HomeSense to move into the space. A full-service BMO will join the centre in 2020 as well.
Built in 1989, the urban mixed-use property has long been a place for the community to gather. Planning for the redevelopment of the centre began in 2017 with the hopes of enhancing the mall in many different facets. Large-scale interior and exterior refurbishments have been in the works ever since. The main goal of the renovation centred around reaffirming the Centre’s community focus with a rejuvenated and inclusive brand.
To date, the renovations have centred primarily around the food court and bathrooms. There is much more to come however, with a recladding of the building’s exterior facade underway and due for completion in Spring, 2020.
As the Centre’s new name was officially unveiled to the public, Councillor Mike Colle spoke about the Centre’s importance within the surrounding community, which is currently undergoing a rebuild of its own following the mixed-income community redevelopment model. He congratulated all who have been involved in the project saying, “I say to all of you who had a part in this, Mazel Tov, and here’s to another 30 years.”