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Shops at One York in Downtown Toronto Adding New Retailers and Tenants: Sean Menkes Interview

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Shops at One York is providing a premium retail experience for consumers at the heart of Toronto’s South Core community.

And the shopping centre has added more tenants to draw even more people to the popular complex.

Serving the needs of residents, office workers, visitors and tourists, Shops at One York is anchored with a broad selection of curated retailers and services that personify the Work, Live and Play lifestyle.

Coming at the end of November is Second City followed by future openings of Nature’s Emporium (Q1 2023) and the One York Food Hall by Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants (Q1 2023).

Shops at One York (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Future Second City in the Shops at One York (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

“Shops at One York, we viewed it as an urban version of a neighbourhood shopping centre,” said Sean Menkes, Vice President, Office/Retail, for Menkes Developments. “So we sought out retailers that not only served those people living and working in the complex but also servicing the surrounding neighbourhood.

Sean Menkes

“We wanted to be able to offer the nearby residents and office workers a convenient place to shop for groceries, get a haircut, dine, unwind after work, etc. So we aim to attract retailers that would complement busy urban lifestyles. The building has been successful and it’s evolved into a retail hub of the South Core because it has critical mass at 150,000 square feet and it also is located right on the main north/south line of the PATH between Union Station and the waterfront. That was a connection that didn’t exist before and it’s a very busy thoroughfare during the morning and afternoon rush.”

Shops at One York is a multi-level urban shopping centre located in the mixed-use buildings of One York Street and Harbour Plaza Residences. It consists of about 150,000 square feet of premium retail space, connecting the city to the waterfront. One York Street is an 800,000-square-foot AAA office building and the one million-square-foot Harbour Plaza Residences has homes for about 2,000 residents. They were completed in 2016 and 2017.

The commercial and residential populations of One York benefit from direct access to the Shops at One York.

Shops at One York (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Shops at One York (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

The retail part of the complex opened in 2016. The entire 150,000 square feet was initially pre-leased by retailer Target for their urban flagship store. But when they pulled out of Canada, Menkes reimagined the entire retail component.

“And it took time to where we are today, but we’ve significantly improved the retail offering and part of that reimagination, nothing was off limits,” said Menkes.

“We re-routed the PATH network through the building, modified vertical transportation, introduced new glazing elements to the building, and turned it from a single tenant retail podium to now what we call an urban neighbourhood shopping centre with more than a dozen tenants and we have a dynamic mix of (food and beverage), grocery, services and medical and now we’re very excited for Second City to add a true entertainment offering to the mix.”

Shops at One York (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

The shopping centre includes Winners and HealthOne which provides seven comprehensive medical and expert quality care services under one roof. One York Food Hall is a curated selection of high quality food offerings served up in a spacious and beautifully adorned 15,000-square-foot food hall and an adjacent outdoor terrace. Pure Fitness Canada is a 25,000-square-foot state of the art fitness facility providing elite training, treatments, classes, amenities, and service in the heart of the South Core.

Nature’s Emporium, one of Canada’s premier health food markets shares the world’s finest pure, natural and organic foods, vitamins, supplements, gluten-free, traditionally raised grass-fed meats, raw foods, natural skin care, cosmetics and home supplies as well as sustainable, eco friendly clothing for the whole family. The legendary improvisational comedy enterprise Second City is comedy at its finest combined with world class food and beverage offerings.

“Adding the entertainment offering with Second City to our project really puts us on a tourism map in the city. And I think it’s the fifth leg for the South Core after the Scotiabank Arena, Rogers Centre, CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium. I think Second City has the opportunity to be that fifth option for people to visit when they’re coming to the South Core of Toronto in an already exciting entertainment hub,” added Menkes. 

ENTRANCE FOYER. IMAGE: MENKES

Carly Heffernan, Artistic Director of The Second City Toronto, said the company was founded in Chicago in 1959 and it moved around in that city as well before landing in Old Town. 

Carly Heffernan

“Currently it’s located at North and Wells in a renovated Cinema space which I love because usually it’s the newer mediums replacing the older ones which makes it feel like a real win for live theatre. It was recently announced that we’ll be opening a New York location in 2023 as well. Located in the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn, the 11,900 square-foot entertainment and education complex will feature a newly built Mainstage theatre, seven classrooms, student performance space, and a full-service restaurant and bar,” she said

“The Second City Toronto is currently our only location situated in an office building complex and we couldn’t be more excited for it. We love being back downtown in the heart of the city. Being connected to the PATH and Toronto’s transit hub, Union Station, also means faster and easier access for our audience members, students and clients. The Second City Toronto is a long-standing Canadian institution that helped launch the careers of incredible talent like Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Jerry Minor, Mike Myers and many more so we also feel right at home being so close to other iconic Canadian destinations like the CN Tower, Rogers Centre and Ripley’s Aquarium. Lastly, there’s a view from our bar/restaurant that looks out over Love Park and onto the lake that is staggeringly beautiful, truly a perspective shifting kind of view. For me, it’s reason enough all on its own.”

Future Nature’s Best at The Shops at One York (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Within the primary trade area, there are over 130,000 potential customers doing business, shopping, eating and socializing – 30,000 residential condominium units, 60,000 residents, 10.6 million square feet of existing office space, and 70,000 office workers.

Pedestrians have access from both York and Harbour Streets and the PATH connecting One York to Scotiabank Arena and Union Station. He said the South Core area has created a connection between the city and the waterfront.

“We’re very proud that our project is one of those main components, bringing the PATH network all the way through and there were also some major infrastructure improvements,” said Menkes.

“Now the waterfront is not only a destination for tourists but long-time residents in the city and the province visiting Toronto are now able to access the waterfront in a much more convenient and enjoyable way.”

Image: Shops at One York
Unit 302 in Shops at One York (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Unit 304 in Shops at One York (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

Menkes said there’s about 10,000 square feet of space still available at Shops at One York

He said the shopping centre has in place a lease with a major regional coffee operator that it’s close to being able to announce.

“What we’re looking for now, our main focus is Unit 212, which is 915 square feet. It’s a small unit. But it’s located at the front door of the Shops at One York and the PATH at the entrance from Scotiabank Arena. So it’s highly visible, it’s a prime corner and we’re looking for a top operator to add to the retail component,” said Menkes.

“We’re not looking for a single specific use but something that adds to the overall offering in the building and can complement the other retailers we have to date.”

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.

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