Timbercreek (Grey-Karen) L-TO
January 6, 2015

Why Retailers Should Learn to Love Condos

Condo projects along the city's avenues offer solid ground-level retail opportunities with thousands of captive customers living above. But it can be tough to convince vendors to pioneer these spaces in places where they, and their customers, are used to strip malls you can park in front of. 

“A lot of the original urban plazas are being redeveloped with the new vertical high-rise projects,” says The Behar Group EVP Greg Evans, shown here at left with colleague Robert Eklove, who's handling sales for Treviso, a Lanterra Developments mixed-use condo at Dufferin and Lawrence that's a good example of what Greg's talking about. In an area populated by dreary old-school strip malls, pull-up parking has been ixnayed at Treviso in a bid to foster street life at the base of the complex, which will have 45k SF of retail space—plus, Greg points out, "an abundance of underground parking.”

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Despite Toronto's condo boom, some retailers, particularly outside the downtown core, still have reservations about locating at the base of residential towers. They shouldn't, Greg tells Bisnow. “You have to look up and realize this is the new neighbourhood plaza." At Treviso, for example, there are 1,500 units, with an average of 2.5 people in each "living on top of your store.” The Behar Group is involved with many mixed-use projects on redevelopment corners, he says, “and we want retailers to see and believe that they can thrive there.”

Robert understands concerns retailers may have. “It's tough to compare this to Yonge and Bloor, where there are five existing residential towers on either side of a project.” (Indeed, here's a shot of what it looks like across the road from Treviso.) In the long-term, though, as the city continues intensifying, “that's exactly what's going to happen in this node,” Robert says, noting there are proposals in place for additional mixed-use development along Dufferin and Lawrence. And you can bet most won't have pull-up parking. “So retailers have to think like pioneers.” 

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JLL's Good Guys Pay It Forward

'Twas a dark and snowy night, but that didn't keep 50 devoted folks from attending a fundraiser in support of Asociación de las Bienaventuranzas, a Peruvian orphanage for underprivileged children. The event, held Dec. 11 at TIFF Bell Lightbox—where a film about the effort was shown and framed photography was auctioned off—raised $15k. It was organized by JLL's Amar Nijjar and Chad Gemmell, who founded EDUCATE (Education and Development of Underprivileged Children Across the Earth), a not-for-profit that provides kids in developing countries food, shelter, clothing, education and resources needed to survive and thrive.

Here's a shot of Chad and Amar in November visiting a shantytown outside Lima, where EDUCATE helped build an extension to an educational facility for kids with disabilities. Amar was inspired to launch the organization following the premature birth of his twin boys at SickKids Hospital two years ago. “You're in such a vulnerable state," he recalls. "I thought, thank God we have this beautiful infrastructure and we're living in a nice country. But what if we weren't that privileged?”

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Regent Park Gets a Refurbished Ice Rink

Marking a milestone moment in The Daniels Corp's revitalization of Regent Park, the community's refurbished hockey rink officially opened last weekend. Hockey Canada Foundation executive director Chris Bright is snapped dropping the puck for local kids during an event it co-hosted with MLSE Foundation, which is funding improvements to the existing rink and fieldhouse (Hockey Canada Foundation donated $300k). Toronto Maple Leafs alumni and members of Canada's 1993 and 1994 national junior teams took part in a community skate, and Leafs development coaches led a learn-to-skate clinic for local youth.

Daniels development VP Remo Agostino is pictured at right with MLSE Foundation executive director Michael Bartlett; councillor/deputy mayor Pam McConnell; Toronto Community Housing chair Bud Purves; and Chris Bright. The rink is the first of three spaces to open at the Regent Park Athletic Grounds, a capital project of MLSE Foundation co-developed with TCH, Daniels and City of Toronto. The facility will include a new basketball court and artificial-turf soccer/cricket pitch. A romantic Remo anticipates Torontonians will enjoy the ice rink in a variety of ways, “from early morning hockey games to late night skates under the stars.”

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What's the best drink to ward off the icy cold? Suggestions—alcoholic or not—please: ryan.starr@bisnow.com