Shoppers World in Brampton ON to be Transformed into Mixed-Use Community: Interview

Retail industry news delivered directly to you. Subscribe to Retail-Insider.

Real estate developer and owner RioCan has a vision to transform Shoppers World Brampton into a sustainable, transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly community and revitalize the retail offerings to create a model mixed-used community for the 21st century.

John Ballantyne, Chief Operating Officer at RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, said the project is a 20-year development.

John Ballantyne

“We’re contemplating the first step of it right now. We’ve got approvals to build quite a lot but it’s going to depend on how each respective phase performs,” he said.

“RioCan’s model is we’ve always been a retail landlord. We’ve always owned unenclosed centres located across Canada. About five years ago we made a concerted effort to be more in the primary markets of Canada. So we sold most of our secondary market assets because we know the growth is in the primary markets.

Shopper’s World Brampton was first redeveloped from a farmer’s field into a shopping destination and Brampton’s first enclosed mall in the 1960s. Today, Shoppers World Brampton is home to over 140 stores, 3,000 parking spots and approximately 700,000 square feet of retail space. (Image Credit: SkyGuys)

“This site is a great example of that where there’s an LRT coming to this site. It’s going to be the terminus station of the LRT. It’s going to end at the shopping centre and we understand there’s a need for new homes in Canada. This is an ideal opportunity to combine the two – our retail prowess along with our residential banner RioCan Living to add residential intensification to the site.”

Ballantyne said the site has been planned and the owner has rights to build four million square feet of mixed-use density. That could be up to 4,500 residential units – both rental and condominium. It would also mean about 860,000 square feet of commercial with retail a strong component but it  would include office space and perhaps educational, medical, and a wide gamut of uses.

The site is 53 acres and the shopping centre is currently about 690,000 square feet – a combination of a mall which is grocery anchored but including box stores around the site. RioCan has owned the property for more than 20 years.

“Brampton is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada,” said Ballantyne. 

Looking beyond the boundaries of the site, the designers took inspiration from Brampton’s natural ecology to guide the identity of the new mixed-use development, restitching it to two watersheds that surround the site (From Etobicoke Creek to Fletchers Creek, and Oak Ridge Moraine to Lake Ontario. (Image Courtesy of BDP Quadrangle / SvN Architects + Planners)

“This one will be phased over the next 20 some odd years. The first component of the development that we’re considering is building a couple of towers on Steeles Avenue. There’s actually an old bus station . . . The former bus station is now in a vacant corner in the southwest portion of the site. We’re considering putting two towers up on that. They would be in the range of about 30 storeys each. We could do that without touching the existing mall. So Shoppers World Brampton would remain as is while we build out those two multi-family buildings.”

Ballantyne said residential is a huge amenity to the sites RioCan owns. It’s basically building in a consumer base to the existing retail.

“The country is trying to solve an issue of not enough homes for Canadians. We’re going to have 1.2 million new Canadians in this country over the next three years. We’ve already had a third of those come in this year. So we’ve had about 400,000 new immigrants come to Canada. We need space for them,” he said.

“It’s especially sites like this that are transit-oriented, urban high population areas with existing infrastructure built all around them, schools, parks, shopping centres, community, extremely important. What we’re doing through RioCan is obviously we’re adding this residential component but we’re also making our site more community friendly.

“Part of what RioCan Living does is we accommodate the communities that we put these residential towers into. Not only for the retail that accompanies it but we’ll do not-for-profit daycare, we’ll do green space, we’ll do community centres in certain mixed-use complexes. We want this to be an active part of the community that they’re going in. We don’t want to just plop towers in the middle of a shopping centre parking lot. That’s not the intent. The intent is to build a true mixed-use community.”

Lined with publicly accessible, diverse open space and a bosque of trees, the pedestrian promenade is a unique landscape feature which creates a connection between Etobicoke Creek and the new urban centre. (Image Courtesy of BDP Quadrangle / SvN Architects + Planners)

Shonda Wang, Principal at SvN who is working with RioCan on designing the new Shoppers World Brampton site alongside lead architect BDP Quadrangle, said the company’s work focuses on solving the critical urban issues of our time.

Shonda Wang

“Today, and for some time now and for some time to come, that focus has been on housing and mobility, and also really designing and developing the supportive communities that are needed in the context of a rapidly growing region – one of the fastest growing regions in North America,” she said. 

The company started working with RioCan in 2017 on the Brampton site to look at what the redevelopment site’s potential would be. The mall is surrounded by high traffic roadways.

“It’s a really important commercial hub today. The community since the 1960s has really been going there as their mall site for various amenities and activities but it’s challenged because it’s hard to access except within a car-dominated environment,” she said. 

But with the coming LRT line, this is a tremendous opportunity to leverage the investments in transit and introduce different types of housing and amenities.

SvN has supported RioCan by bringing the site through a master-plan process. 

A series of new streets, parks and open spaces will form the foundation to introduce a mix of types and tenure of housing. The streets will be new walkable and bikeable streets and community services and facilities will be introduced in a dynamic mix.

“We’re seeing a lot of malls and shopping plazas across the GTA and other jurisdictions being replaced by mixed-use communities,” said Wang. “We’re one of the fastest growing regions in North America. That’s a big driver for growth and development and large-scale sites like Shoppers World tend to transform more readily than fragmented, multi-owner sites that need to be assembled.

“There’s a recognition and realization that building for singular use in this context is rarely a good approach for redevelopment when you have very precious land assets. I mean that not only from an environmental perspective but also an economic perspective. RioCan’s been fantastic at acknowledging and recognizing that and therefore proactively planning for their sites.”

Wang said the interesting thing about the Shoppers World Brampton site is that it is dominated by asphalt today. The master plan ended up showing how the asphalt could be lifted and peeled away to uncover what was there originally.

“Because this site is going to be transformed over so many years, it was really important for us to develop a strong landscape narrative as part of the vision,” she said.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

More From The Author

Ricardo’s Kandy Korner to Open Flagship Candy Store at CF Toronto...

Entrepreneur Ricardo Rizaie says he’s planning to take his experiential candy retail concept across Canada after opening a third Canadian storefront in downtown Toronto.

PizzaForno Expands Into Toronto’s Public Transit System, Sets Sights on Airport...

This innovative move marks PizzaForno's entry into the public transit sector, and demonstrates its commitment to becoming the fastest-growing pizza chain in North America by 2024.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

No posts to display

Follow us


all-time Popular