Toronto’s Corktown Seeing Retail Revival with New Developments [Interview]


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A one-of-a-kind mixed-use building, PARLIAMENT&CO., is being developed in the up-and-coming Corktown neighbourhood of Toronto, adding 3,000 square feet of retail space to the market.

Shakeel Walji, Creative Director/President of The Sher Corporation which is developing the project, said the 11-storey building will have the retail space on the main level. Although it can be demised, the space is perfect for a hip local eatery or coffee hot spot.

“This project is unique in the sense it has four different components in an 11-storey building,” he said. “It has retail at grade which is a freehold unit and then we have a commercial condominium between levels two to five and then it has another condominium from levels six to 10 which are designated true live/work lofts and then on the 11th floor we have an event space that’s approximately over 6,000 square feet combining indoor and outdoor.

“So that’s an 11-storey building with four different uses all brought together in one building form.”

The site is located at Parliament Street and Queen Street East.

Image: PARLIAMENT&CO / The Sher Corporation

Sher started in 2007 with a development at King Street East with a 15-storey, 215-unit residential building. The company likes to develop midrise to highrise condominium projects on infill sites in “beautiful” neighbourhoods in Toronto. It has also ventured out recently into suburbs like Markham.

Walji said the retail component of the newest project fronts onto Parliament Street facing west and it also fronts onto the southside which is a laneway that runs east/west.

“The portion that’s fronting south onto the laneway is sort of a colonnade condition. There’s glazing. There’s glass surrounding the retail space,” he said. “There’s about 3,000 square feet of retail space that’s available for ownership.

“Ideally, we’d prefer one retailer because 3,000 square feet is not a lot. We’re thinking a beautiful boutique restaurant would be ideal. You can even do the trend now is to create something like a ghost kitchen producing different types of food products, serving purely as a delivery solution in today’s COVID world. 

“A nice high end restaurant would be ideal. A morning coffee place. That sort of idea.”

Image: PARLIAMENT&CO / The Sher Corporation
PARLIAMENT&CO / The Sher Corporation

Walji said Toronto, like other big urban centres, is going through gentrification and the intersection at Queen and Parliament has seen its share of gentrification in recent times.

“It’s one of those last corridors in the city that will be seeing significantly more. It’s been relatively left untouched,” he said. “There’s development to the south currently that combines office space, condominiums, retail with a large visitor parking component as well. That was really the first project that came along and if you go further south of that you’ve got a really cool vibe and neighbourhood.

“This is the lower East side Toronto’s furniture district and if you go further south you’re also hitting the Distillery District . . . That’s a really hot spot for visitors to Toronto and Canada who definitely want to go there. It’s like a cobblestone area with a lot of streets and a lot of retailers.

“Our development is about a 10-minute walk north along Parliament, just north of Queen Street and we’re anticipating more gentrification to the north of us. Recently I know the Catholic church has also bought a site at the corner. They’re thinking of having a Catholic school come in or a church being developed at that corner. The whole Regent Park re-gentrification is almost complete. All of that area is being re-gentrified with high-end condominiums, retail at grade, visible cities, wide boulevards, treescapes, urban realms being updated. So it’s going through a lot of gentrification.

“Seeing that happen on Parliament to the north and to the south, that’s how this site was picked. This site is literally in the middle and it’s probably one of the last sites along Parliament in that sort of stretch that will see development.”

Possession is expected in February 2024.

Vanessa Lynch of DWSV is the point of contact for any purchasing inquiries relating to PARLIAMENT&CO.

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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