How A Retail Revamp Will Remake Yonge and Eg
RioCan REIT’s $45M Yonge Eglinton Centre makeover is moving along, with major changes made to the complex both inside and out. (At least someone is keeping up their New Year's resolutions to look and feel better.) CEO Ed Sonshine tells Bisnow how the retail revamp will breathe new life into Midtown Toronto.
The refurbishment of Yonge Eglinton Centre, which RioCan bought in 2007, is bringing overdue change to an intersection that's about to become one of the city’s most important regional transit hubs, as construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is now underway. “It needed to be redeveloped,” Ed tells us. “And there was demand, so we thought, ‘Why aren’t we doing something?’”
Inside, work is nearly complete on the existing shopping mall, where the great hall has been classed up with LED light columns and glass railings, and new retailers are on their way. Original plans for the redevelopment also included re-cladding YEC’s two office towers, but Ed notes “they’re staying the way they are.” RioCan moved its offices there two years ago, giving the space “a little more importance,” says Ed. (Facebook Canada also has its offices at YEC.)
The focal point of the YEC revamp is the large cube going up at the northwest corner of Yonge and Eglinton, which will house 40k SF of retail, including Winners and Joe Fresh. There was controversy when RioCan unveiled plans for the cube, which replaces an open plaza. “People felt we were taking away public space,” says Ed. “Truth was we owned it.” The old plaza had been populated primarily by “smokers and pigeon droppings.” The new cube will have a public rooftop garden and Aroma cafe on the ground floor facing Yonge that Ed says “will bring more life to the street than that forbidding concrete plaza ever did.”
The reworked YEC will be connected to the new twin-tower E Condos development across the road, at the northeast corner of Yonge and Eglinton. RioCan has partnered with condo developers Bazis and Metropia Urban Landscapes on the mixed-use project, with 54k SF of retail space along Yonge (including a 18k SF TD Bank at the corner) and a 36-storey rental apartment building on Roehampton Avenue. The complex will be connected underground to Yonge Eglinton Centre, which Ed says will "set the tone and be the retail and entertainment hub for the whole area, which is just growing like stink," with nearly a half-dozen condo projects under development.