Advertisement
Advertisement

Oxford Properties Mega-Project to Add 200,000 Sq Ft of Retail Space in Downtown Toronto [Feature]

Date:

Share post:

Last week landlord Oxford Properties announced that it would be building a $3.5-billion mixed-use mega-project in downtown Toronto that will become one of Canada’s biggest real estate projects. This week, Retail Insider spoke with two executives from Oxford Properties to discuss details on the 200,000 square foot retail component, which is expected to become a destination in an area that is seeing a remarkable transformation.  

Called ‘Union Park’, the 4.3-million square foot complex on four acres will be just north of Toronto’s Rogers Centre and the CN Tower, and across the street from CBC’s Broadcast Centre, Simcoe Place and the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Included at Union Park will be two office towers (58 and 48 stories), about 800 rental apartments in two buildings (54 and 44 stories), and three acres of public space including an urban park over the Union Station rail corridor spanning between Blue Jays Way and the John Street footbridge. Union Park will transform both the city skyline as well as the experience at street level. 

As part of the Union Park project, Oxford Properties will add about 200,000 square feet of retail space spanning multiple levels, which will house a variety of commercial tenants. Experiential retail will be key to the project which could include a new food hall for Toronto’s downtown core which will be a draw for visitors and locals. 

Construction is expected to commence in 2023 depending on city approvals.

SITE PLAN, SHOWING THE POSITIONING OF BUILDINGS AS WELL AS THE ‘WINTER GARDEN’ AND NEW PARK OVER THE RAIL YARDS. ABOUT 200,000 SQUARE FEET OF RETAIL WOULD BE LOCATED WITHIN THE COMPLEX. IMAGE: OXFORD PROPERTIES
A ‘WINTER GARDEN’ WOULD ADD NORTH-SOUTH CONNECTIVITY, WITH RETAIL SPACES BOASTING 20-FOOT CLEAR CEILING HEIGHTS. IMAGE: OXFORD PROPERTIES.

Retail space at Union Park will include a lower level corridor that will connect to Toronto’s PATH pedestrian network, which will be expanded as part of the new project. Carlo Timpano, Vice President of Development at Oxford Properties, said that the retail mix on that level will be “PATH oriented” with a mix of tenants geared towards those utilizing the pedestrian network which is said to be the largest underground shopping complex in the world. Targeted tenants will include food and beverage operators as well as other localized retail offerings with a convenience and lifestyle focus. 

Upstairs at the street level will be dramatic retail spaces with 20-foot clear ceiling heights, according to Mr. Timpano, which will activate Front Street with a variety of uses. A glass-enclosed ’winter garden’ will provide further activation as well as access to more retail space that will face toward the newly built park, while also creating north-south connectivity within the massive Union Park complex. 

Sherif Masood, Vice President of Retail Asset Management at Oxford Properties, described the proposed retail mix at Union Park as being focused on food and beverage, entertainment and ‘lifestyle’ with a particular focus on food and beverage to act as a draw. Tenants could include QSR tenants, lifestyle concepts such as spas and beauty, banks, full-sized restaurants and even a food hall is a possibility as the landlord strategizes and begins discussions with potential tenants. Mr. Masood said that there is the opportunity for flagship restaurants to locate in space facing the new park, with opportunities for large patios. 

PARK SPACE OVER THE RAIL YARDS AT UNION PARK. RESTAURANTS OVERLOOKING THE PARK COULD HAVE OPPORTUNITIES FOR LARGE SOUTH-FACING PATIOS FLOODED BY SUNLIGHT. IMAGE: OXFORD PROPERTIES.

An upper-level food hall could become a significant component of Union Park. The food hall could include outdoor space as well as windows to provide ample natural light. A grocery tenant is also a possibility for Union Park, and the landlord will examine various options including a grocery-anchored food hall or a more traditional standalone grocery concept. 

NIGHTTIME VIEW OF TORONTO’S SKYLINE WITH THE NEW ‘UNION PARK’ RISING BEHIND THE ROGERS PLACE FACILITY. IMAGE: OXFORD PROPERTIES.

Food halls are good for business, according to Mr. Masood, noting that the opening of Eataly at Boston’s Prudential Centre led to its landlord being able to command higher lease rates for office tenants above and even nearby. Food halls also pull in visitors from further away, he noted, as evidenced with the Chef’s Assembly Hall in downtown Toronto as well as two food halls in Oxford’s Upper Canada Mall in Newmarket (which opened last year) as well as at Square One in Mississauga, which opened in the spring. 

Entertainment is also expected to be an important part of Union Park. The area is already home to attractions such as the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium and Cineplex-owned ‘The Rec Room’ which opened in the summer of 2017. Union Park’s ‘winter garden’ could also become activated at various times of the year to host events for the Toronto International Film Festival, Pride, and Toronto Fashion Week, for example. 

Mr. Masood noted that with about 3.5 million square feet of space, Union Park will bring a level of scale that will “bring a truly successful mixed-use community” that will be an added draw for the area. Those working in the new office towers on the site as well as nearby will have even more options for dining and shopping, while new residents to the area will further add to Union Park’s commercial viability. The area surrounding Union Park is seeing a development boom that includes thousands of new condominium units as well as several large new office towers. 

ANOTHER VIEW OF UNION PARK IN TORONTO. IMAGE: OXFORD PROPERTIES.

Oxford Properties owns the four-acre Union Park site as well as about seven acres immediately to the east that currently houses the Metro Toronto Convention Centre as well as an office building and a hotel. While Oxford will focus on Union Park’s proposed four-acre property, there’s the possibility that an expansion eastward could be a possibility at some point in the future. 

Union Park will be less than 300 metres from ‘The Well’, which will be a mixed use project that will include about 420,000 square feet of retail space. Both developments will create a critical mass as densification continues in the city’s core.

In 2012, Oxford Properties proposed a significantly larger development called Oxford Place that could have included a new hotel, residential towers, office towers, a redeveloped convention facility and a Royal Vegas Casino in Canada. Spanning the entire 11 acres on the south side of Front Street between Simcoe Street and Blue Jays Way, Oxford Place would have included approximately one million square feet of retail space, which could have become a competitor to CF Toronto Eaton Centre, given the size. Toronto City Council voted against the downtown casino and plans to develop Oxford Place were put on hold indefinitely. 

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.