The Yonge and St. Clair area in Toronto is in the middle of a makeover as the BIA (Business Improvement Area) is looking to improve the neighbourhood to be a place where people can live, work, and play. A landlord is also playing a key role.
The BIA was founded in 2018 at Yonge and St. Clair and are working on bringing new retail spaces to the area while continuing to support and improve local businesses, the BIA represents over 450 businesses in the area and covers 22 acres.
“We are going through a wave of new developments happening in the neighbourhood, so we are really excited to see how it develops into a great neighbourhood,” says Louroz Mercader, the Executive Director of the Yonge and St. Clair BIA.
A developer is also integral to the area, given its extensive ownership.
“The area is surrounded by tons of residential, so we saw an opportunity to reposition the four corners of Yonge and St. Clair to really improve upon the existing amenities and reposition some of the retail so we can make it more of a place to live, work, and play,” says Lindsay Stiles, Chief Operating Officer of Slate Asset Management.
Current Development Plans
One of the developments of Slate Asset Management and Studio Gang that has recently broken ground two months ago is One Delisle, a residential complex in the Yonge and St. Clair Area. The One Delisle will be 47 stories with 371 condominium apartment units. As there is an immediate connection to the subway, Stiles said it will make it a great place to be and easily accessible. This will be Studio Gang’s first development in Canada.
The BIA and Slate Asset Management are currently working on bringing in a mix of services, here are some examples of what is in place:
- Cucina Buca, a formal sit down for nice dinners and corporate lunches but is also appropriate for families
- Playa Cabana, a Mexican restaurant which also includes an outdoor patio
- Prairie Boy Bakery, where residents can find its well-known custom cakes along with breads which people can grab to go and take home
- F45 is a fitness retailer designed for people who want a full body workout
Slate’s portfolio also includes 10 other properties in the area and includes all four corners of the intersection where One Delisle will be.
Mercader said the development of St. Clair Place has also recently been announced and will be a new four tower development complex which will be located across from the One Delisle. Mercader said the BIA is also looking at improving public realm with a master streetscape plan that will hopefully be completed in five to eight years. This will include new courtyards, sidewalks, benches, lighting, and investing a lot in art and culture to further enhance the neighbourhood.
“We are looking at new beautiful public spaces which really helps build the feel and character of the neighbourhood. At Yonge and St. Clair, we have developed a streetscape master plan. We are covering 22 acres, but our core focus is working with the intersection right now and then from there we are going to expand where we will have a uniformed design, look, and feel that is going to be in the neighbourhood. It is exciting we are starting to put piece by piece together to make this happen. Obviously, we would love to make this happen as soon as possible, but we are also working on the timelines of the new developments that are happening, so I think within the next five to eight years we will implement most of the streetscape master plan,” says Mercader.
Before Covid-19, Mercader said they had 15,000 office workers in the neighbourhood, and they are gradually working back up to that number as about 30 percent of workers are back in office.
“We are hoping that more people return to work to help support the businesses that are in the area which really helps the vibrancy of the neighbourhood. Then obviously the goal here is to attract tenants, and especially new restaurants and places to eat, so after work you would be able to join with your family and friends and really enjoy the neighbourhood that is coming in here. We do want a healthy mix of retailers coming in here, I think the investment and the new developments that are happening now will really help public realm and bring new energy into the neighbourhood,” says Mercader.
Collaborating with Existing Local Businesses
The BIA is not just looking to bring in new retail, it is also looking to support local business owners and improve retail stores. This can include potentially accommodating retail stores to a new location where there is more signage and traffic exposure or helping with renovating a retail store’s location so they can provide more to their customers. A good example of this would be the BIA’s work on Salon Scavo.
“They’ve been on the Yonge and St. Clair neighbourhood for a long time, they were a tenant there before we inquired the properties in the neighbourhood and so we worked with them, and they renovated their salon as part of our redevelopment. And they continued to do incredibly well, and they are very well known in the neighbourhood, so we are happy we were able to keep them and to work with them to renovate their salon so it could continue to serve them going forward,” says Stiles.
In addition to helping local stores, the BIA also helps with maintaining the environment around them such as street and sidewalk maintenance, employment, hosting neighbourhood festivals, removing graffiti from retail stores where it is visible, and providing safety.
“A Place Where People Want to Come and Stay”
The BIA is making sure the neighbourhood is accessible for everyone and wants to make it a one stop shop where residents can access everything they need.
“The BIA wants to work together to make sure the Yonge and St. Clair area is known as a place where people want to come and stay. Whether that is to live, work, play, or potentially just making it easier for people working in the area to use the amenities that are local instead of hopping onto the subway.”
Stiles said they want to make sure the neighbourhood provides what the residents and visitors need, such as hair salons, shopping, restaurants, or going to their doctor as they are trying to get everything you need in one place. As of right now, the BIA is representing over 450 businesses, around 90 property owners, and the rest of the St. Clair and Yonge Community.
“The developments will drive more people to the area and certainly assist with generating this new vibrancy we have been working towards. We are hopeful everyone will appreciate what we have done to date, and I think it has been very well received by the pubic and our partners by the local community, triggering additional development by other landlords in the area. What we would like to see ideally is a combination of residential, office, and retail because that will really allow a great mix, again the opportunity to mix live, work, and play in the area.”
The BIA will be working on a lot of activations this week as they will be the major hub for the 2023 Design TO Festival in January. Mercader said they are looking forward to that and will be activating their public spaces, office lobbies, and attract public art to encourage everybody to visit.
“Yonge and St. Clair is being transformed into a new great place to live, work, and play. So we will be looking at continually to attract more modern tenants into the neighbourhood, enhancing the pedestrian experience, and really becoming Toronto’s next great neighbourhood,” says Mercader.