With the demise of many big box stores in recent years, shopping centres across the country have thought of different and innovative ways to lease up space left behind by huge retail giants.
From breaking up large space into more units to attracting different non-traditional retail use, malls in Canada are thinking out of the box and the Yorkdale Shopping Centre, one of the country’s iconic retail properties, has been home to a sales office for a major condo development.
Jason Lam, VP of Sales and Marketing from CentreCourt, which is building the 15-storey, 422-unit, WestLine Condos project just steps from Downsview Park, said the pop-up sales office will continue in operation until later in November. The concept began in the mall on October 1. The pop-up sales office was originally intended to be open daily until October 31. But it’s been extended because of the popularity of the concept.
It’s located in the former BOSE location, directly beside MAC Cosmetics and across from the Food Court Escalators.
The project is in the pre-construction and pre-selling stage. Construction is expected to begin in early 2022 and the project, which launched on September 7, is over 70 per cent sold. Target completion date is mid-2024.
“Yorkdale mall in Toronto is the premier shopping centre. It’s run by Oxford. It’s actually perfectly placed because it’s got subway connectivity as well as highway connectivity. So it’s convenient,” said Lam.
“For us, the Downsview area is a bit of an unknown commodity. It requires education. It requires people to see it, to believe it, to feel it. We like the energy of Yorkdale. No one’s really done this concept. No one’s really brought this sort of pop-up selling condominiums out of a mall. The energy in the mall and the brands within the mall. If you think of Yorkdale mall, it’s a premium space. We’re a premium developer. We’re incredibly active in the GTA.
“We get so much traffic of people walking into our space because people are curious. It’s growing our brand as an organization and as a project. The amount of traffic you get in a mall, especially Yorkdale, makes so much sense.”
Bruce Winder, author of RETAIL Before, During & After COVID-19 and President of Bruce Winder Retail, said the recent WestLine condos pop-up sales centre at Yorkdale makes sense and represents a new age where non-traditional tenants use select malls to showcase relevant products and services.
“In this instance, WestLine will be building condominiums near Yorkdale mall – a short walking distance or short subway ride – and have smartly used the facility to entice shoppers who may already live nearby or wish to. As they say in marketing “fish where the fish are” and this initiative does just that. The affluent demographic of the mall fits nicely with the demographic of the Toronto condo shopper so one can see the parallel in lifestyles. Not to mention the obvious geographic connection,” he said.
“This type of pop-up has been a trend of late as brands look for places that they can insert themselves into a given target customers’ purchase process. That is, this pop-up acts as an external stimulus to potential condo shoppers or just shoppers in general who may not be aware of the project and the many benefits it brings.
“We have seen several new tenants take up space in malls including automobile brands (see last week’s Retail Insider article on Toyota opening in the West Edmonton Mall), education providers, health care providers, digitally native brands, gyms, e-commerce pick up centres and of course various seasonal pop-up stores. Marketers see malls as physical (and digital) marketplaces whereby shoppers of the same or similar demographic get things done or be entertained. As a result of this or maybe because of this, shopping centres have polarized based on lifestyle.”
WestLine is directly beside the Sheppard West TTC Station, a short walk to the GO Train, minutes from Highway 401 and just steps from Downsview Park. It offers fully connected living with easy access to every major mode of transportation.
The project will be two subway stops away from Yorkdale, and an under five minute drive away, at Allen Road and Sheppard Avenue West, just alongside the future 1,000-acre Downsview redevelopment, the largest masterplan in the Greater Toronto Area.
“The reason why we looked at the site and got excited is it’s pretty much the only site in all of the GTA that has GO Train subway access and highway,” said Lam. “And we believe the city is prioritizing this location . . . they’re prioritizing employment.
“An added layer to that is this big, huge urban park which is 291 acres and you don’t get that every day. You don’t really get that opportunity especially in Toronto Rarely do you get the opportunity to open your door and say wow I have access to public transportation. It’s about cost-effectiveness. How can I get from point A to B? Cost of living in Toronto is getting pretty crazy. So how do I get to work, to school, to entertainment, on an effective basis, efficiently from a cost perspective. But also now I can have lifestyle. I’ve got this 291-acre park that has a forest, that has a lake, that has a farm, that has a sports area . . . You can get lost in this thing, it’s so big.”
The condo project is also close to York University.
CentreCourt is a real estate company focused on the development of high-rise residential communities located near major amenities, rapid transit networks and employment areas across the GTA. Ranked #11 on the 2020 Growth List ranking of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies, CentreCourt is one of the most active high-rise developers in the GTA with 18 high-rise residential projects, collectively representing over 9,000 homes and over $6.6 billion of development value.