Liberty Village in Toronto Seeing Ongoing Retail Expansion as New Buildings are Added [Interview]

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The burgeoning area known as Liberty Village continues to undergo a dramatic transformation with more to come as First Capital Real Estate Investment Trust looks to build three residential towers in the neighbourhood with additional retail and office space. 

Leah Feeley, Director of Leasing for First Capital REIT, said the area has seen a dramatic transformation within the last five years.

Leah Feeley

“Liberty Village is our bread-and-butter shopping centre in terms of our ‘Super-Urban’ Strategy. Our ‘Super-Urban’ Strategy encompasses three core metrics including population density, access to transit and walkability score,” said Feeley.

“We continue to have strong leasing demand and high renewal expectancies in Liberty Village. If a unit comes up for lease, we see this as a great opportunity to bring in new and exciting tenancies with a great following such as Nodo Restaurants, Burger Drops, Pi Co., Nani’s Gelato, and Chipotle – all recent deals. We have a very diverse tenant mix including grocery, daycare, banks, pet supplies, personal services, QSR, furniture stores etc. The Metro grocery store continues to be a huge traffic driver.”

Image: Liberty Village

First Capital’s urban mixed-use shopping centre, called “Liberty Village”, has about 75 tenants in about 450,000 square feet. Retail includes Shops at King Liberty, King High Line and Barrymore.

Jennifer Arezes, Vice President of Development for First Capital said, “We are proposing to redevelop a portion of our Shops at King Liberty property with 882 new residential units along with 20,000 square feet of new retail space and 70,000 square feet of office space”.

Jennifer Arezes

“We’re also proposing a new public park and multi-use pedestrian promenade traversing the site from East Liberty Street to 85 Hanna (Avenue)/Barrymore and eventually across the tracks to King High Line and the new proposed King-Liberty GO Station,” Arezes said. 

Feeley said “There is a lot of high-rise residential going up in the area. There is great accessibility to Lakeshore and the Gardiner Expressway. It is walking distance to the Exhibition Station/BMO Field. There are a lot of young families that have moved here, and everyone seems to have a dog! Popular tech companies have also opened offices here. It has really become the trendiest most desirable place to live.” 

Image: Liberty Village

According to First Capital, the proposed development includes the following elements: 

  •  Block A at 75 Hanna Avenue is proposed as a four-storey office podium with retail at grade and two residential towers at 29 and 34 storeys;
  • Block B at 120 Lynn Williams Street is proposed as a seven-storey podium with retail at grade and a 33-storey residential tower above; and 
  • Approximately 40 per cent of the development site area is devoted to public realm elements – the Public Park, the Snooker Street Extension, the Promenade, and the Urban Plaza.
Liberty Village (Image: BDP Quadrangle)
Liberty Village (Image: BDP Quadrangle)

“Liberty Village continues to cater to young professionals, young couples, families, and ex-suburbanite empty nesters, making for a unique and diverse mix of tastemakers and trend shapers. Liberty Village is set to see the population grow over nine per cent in a five-kilometre radius by 2026. This will take the total population from 533,000 to over 582,000 people,” says Feeley.

“The City of Toronto is working in collaboration with the Province of Ontario and Metrolinx to take advantage of the nearly 40 kilometres of already existing Metrolinx GO rail corridors to bring a better transit experience to the city. The SmartTrack Program will bring five new stations along existing rail corridors (one of them being in Liberty Village) in order to create more desirable transit infrastructure for the people of Toronto. These stations will connect existing subway lines, the UP Express and future lines to the GO Train, allowing more people to easily travel in and out of the city while leaving their vehicles behind. All five stations are set to be operational by 2026 and are projected to bring 110,000 new daily riders to the rail network by 2031.”

Liberty Village has a Transit Score of 100, a Walk Score of 94 and a Bike Score of 79.

Liberty Yard (Image: BDP Quadrangle)

First Capital REIT, with over $10 billion in assets, is a leading owner, operator, and developer of grocery-anchored and mixed-use real estate located in Canada’s most densely populated cities. 

As of June 30, it owned interests in 147 neighbourhoods, totalling 22.3 million square feet of gross leasable area and 2,400 tenants.

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. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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