by Susy Alexandre January 26, 2024

How Malls Are Changing Toronto and the GTA Communities


Rendering of a mix-used space - Imagine via OrbitWeb

In recent months, articles and news segments have been cropping up everywhere putting a spotlight on the surge in mall development projects and reimaginings across Toronto and the GTA. To find out more about how malls are changing Toronto and GTA communities, read on as the experts at Royal LePage Your Community Realty get you up to speed on everything you need to know about this trending real estate topic. 

Shoppers who frequent major GTA-based malls like Yorkdale, Square One, Fairview and Sherway Gardens won’t be surprised to learn that these popular shopping destinations are all currently in some stage of redevelopment, whether it’s early stages of planning and approvals to active construction. 

The theme is clear: malls are now being zeroed in on as the ideal candidates for enhanced mixed-use development. This is largely in response to the ongoing housing shortage that has the housing supply sluggish to meet the growing demand. By re-envisioning these developments with new mixed-use considerations in mind, developers are able to introduce new and in-demand components like residential condominiums, to put the existing space to its absolute best-use. 


They Are A Strategic Planning Opportunity

Sherway Mall Rendering - Imagine via Cadillac Fairview

The strategy in reimagining these existing mall developments is multi-faceted, but the primary focus lies in the ability to factor in a residential aspect via new design concepts that would allow for these retail compounds to become mixed-use commercial and residential developments. With so many new developments being built up versus out across hard-to-find land, the mixed-use reimaginings for these existing malls presents an innovative and exciting opportunity to address the housing shortage by thinking outside of the (mall) box. 

Malls that are thriving in their communities are typically situated in prime real estate pockets, where ease of access and transportation are key factors. Being that the more popular malls are built with considerable parking lot space, this is looking to be where many developers are planning their residential buildings, effectively taking the mall parking (and future residential parking spaces) underground. 

Beyond re-conceptualizing the surrounding lot of these malls, existing areas within the original mall design are also being considered for new use. In many cases, these popular and high performing malls periodically go through phases of renovation, so it makes sense that the overall transformation and re-purposing of space would also include the existing mall structure itself. 

At present, many popular mall destinations are already in the construction process of their re-development, with many others slated to follow over the next few years. 

Fairview Mall Rendering - Image via Cadillac Fairview

Fairview Mall will begin to undergo construction over the new two years, seeing a mix of new residential and commercial buildings. 

Another Cadillac Fairview destination, Sherway Gardens, is in the pre construction stage of a massive redevelopment project. The reimagining by Cadillac Fairview Corporation and Diamondcorp called 25 The West Mall, will include 932 condominium units spread across 4 towers. This massive expansion will be situated within the existing 30-acre land that Sherway Gardens mall currently occupies, with the existing mall structure remaining as it stands. The mall itself has undergone major renovations and changes over the past several years, including a stunning and modern expansion, newly-appointed food court and many new and exciting retailers, including a Tesla showroom and store. The much-loved mall has done an excellent job of adapting to the times and staying current, so it’s not surprising that this Cadillac Fairview location will be following suit in this trend of mixed-use mall re-imaginings. 

The 25 The West Mall development will also see a new public park being added to the mix, an urban pedestrian-friendly plaza, and more. 

It Repurposes Under-Utilized Land

In the case of many of these mall reimaginings, under-utilized land encompassing parking lots and other underused exterior points are optimal points of consideration for repurposing. 

This repurposing goes beyond the addition of new residential structures to also include green space concepts like community-friendly public parks, as in the case of the 25 The West Mall development. 

Important to note is that as with every major development, there are many steps in the proposal process before these development plans are approved and set into motion. This is why it is vital to remain an active member of your community and subscribe to local news on development proposals to ensure you are aware of local happenings and can have your say on the changes taking place in your neighbourhood. 

It’s A GTA-Wide Trend

A GTA-wide trend, mall redevelopment projects present large-scale commercial opportunities for retail space, supply jobs and work to bridge the gap between housing supply and demand. Not surprisingly, malls have a major impact on the areas and communities in which they are situated. If positioned and marketed properly, these retail behemoths greatly benefit their surrounding communities.

Homebuyers Benefit From These Projects

Homebuyers benefit from projects like mall developments, as these large-scale projects encourage economic growth and promote local employment and investment. Benefits such as these appeal to prospective home-seekers who are looking for communities where there is healthy growth and visible community investment. Malls signify that there is enough local activity, demand and financial return to warrant the developer and business investment. The redevelopment of existing malls is demonstrative of developers and community planners seeing the current and future value in reimagining these existing projects and enhancing their purpose with new mixed-use components. 

Large-scale mixed use developments like these benefit homeowners and existing residents as they work to significantly raise the livability of the communities where they are situated. 

While there has been suggestion that these mall redevelopment projects will primarily prove beneficial to the rental market supply versus affordable primary housing, these projects will still serve purpose as far as meeting the need for supply in the general housing mix. 

Curious to know more about trending topics like this and the many communities that Your Community Realty serves? Check out our Community Information page for more information and active local property listings today! Our award-winning team will be happy to supply you with information on up-and-coming residential projects like the ones mentioned above - and more! Don’t be the last to know - let Your Community Realty keep you ahead of the game. 


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