Stockyards, Toronto: The Future of Retail?
Located at the intersection of Weston Road & St. Clair Ave., the currently under development Stockyards project by RioCan and Trinity Development Group will include 550,000 sq. ft. of leasable retail and Canada’s first new-build Target. In a recent interview, Edward Sonshine of RioCan described this project and the ongoing trend to service the rapidly growing urban condo clientele as the future of retail in Canada. The National Post author, Garry Marr, even went so far as to title his article “What the mall of the future will look like“, but I’m going to attribute that to journalistic creativity rather than to RioCan.
No, this is not what the mall of the future will look like. First off, it’s not a mall – it’s more like a typical (in terms of tenant mix) outdoor retail centre crammed into onto a small urban site. It’s still automobile oriented, and it’s still single-use (mostly). Having said that, however, I do think this is a very cool development and a great experiment for RioCan to test out ways to fit onto urban sites. A couple of the most interesting elements include:
- A site FSR of 0.67, which is more than double your typical suburban retail FSR of 0.25-0.3.
- A parking ratio of 3.5 spaces per 1,000 sq.ft., well below the 4-5 spaces typically required.
- A really creative design for Target that hides 214 parking spaces and loading bays behind ‘liner’ retailers.
- Convincing Target to locate in a second floor space.
Looking through the approvals, some other highlights include a requirement that 1% of gross construction costs are contributed to the Public Art program, the provision of bicycle parking spaces, and provision of medical office space. I also see an unfortunate requirement that a maximum of 10% of retail spaces be below 2,500 sq. ft. – I think somehow my planning colleagues think this protects street retail in existing neighbourhoods. No, it doesn’t protect existing street retail – that’s like thinking of the retail market as a giant game of tetris with different sized stores trying to fit into different sized spaces. That’s not how retail works. Also, how do you expect RioCan to create the kind of pedestrian-friendly environment they show in their renderings if most of the stores have to be bigger than 2,500 sq. ft.?
Overall, I think Stockyards is a good step in the right direction and, assuming it’s successful, will be an important precedent setting project that developers can point at to convince retailers to think more creatively.
Pre-Target 3D Fly-through
Post-Target 3D Fly-through