Glam developer purchases aging plaza
Plans are to build a mixed-use highrise on site of Yorkville North
Yorkville North, located at 100 Steeles Ave. W., is a sprawling and crumbling plaza built around a Thornhill parking lot. It’s home to a number of Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants, a State Farm agency, a Persian bakery, the Toronto Home of Audiophile and a smattering of other businesses.
In the summer it was announced that Mizrahi Developments (who is currently building One Bloor West which will be one of Canada’s most expensive condos), Dream Unlimited and Westdale Properties are planning to submit a plan for a highrise, mixed-use development at Yorkville North. In Westdale’s quarterly report, released at the end of March, it stated that it, along with Dream Unlimited, had purchased a 33.3 per cent lease hold interest in the plaza for $7.8 million.The property was billed as a “retail shopping centre and residential mixed-use development investment opportunity.”
“This area is suited for this kind of intensification,” said Alan Shefman, Vaughan councillor for Ward 5. “The plazas themselves are pretty old, beat up, and they are not reflecting what we want to see in that area in the future,” he said.
The developers have not made an official proposal yet to the city, but have been in close contact with both the councillor’s office as well as the local ratepayers association when it comes to designing this development.
“They have been very accommodating,” said Pam Taraday-Levy, president of the SpringFarm Ratepayers Association. “[The developer] told us that [they have] purchased the site and that there will be a development of a live-work space, but no specific details were given.”
Toronto Home of Audiophile, located at Unit 22 in Yorkville North is one of the oldest tenants in the plaza. It closed its downtown location and moved to Thornhill after noticing a migration of higher income families to Thornhill. Since then, it has seen the plaza shift from primarily Chinese restaurants to new Korean businesses. It has also seen the property change hands several times from landlord to landlord and was unaware of the changes coming to the plaza.
“I’m a tenant here, so I don’t want it to be redeveloped,” said a representative from Toronto Home of Audiophile, who did not want to be named. He worried that the new plans for Yorkville North would mean his lease would be terminated. And if the owners renewed his lease, he said it would be hard to weather the transition.
“We could not stop our business for a couple of years to wait [for the construction to be over],” he said. “I think they would have to compensate all the tenants.”
There’s lingering uncertainty, as well, over whether the new owners are done purchasing properties for this development.
“My landlord told me that the developer who purchased [Yorkville North at] 100 Steeles proposed to buy 180 Steeles as well,” said Chris Kim, owner of Seoul House Barbeque restaurant in the next plaza over at 180 Steeles Ave. W. “He is not going to sell.”
However, the representative at Toronto Home of Audiophile remained skeptical about how the new owners would be able to build over Yorkville North alone. “It’s not a big area,” he said. The land around the plaza has been identified by the province as a growth node for intensification.
This September, the Gupta Group proposed three highrise towers to be built across the street from Centerpoint Mall.
A Yonge Street extension subway line is currently in preliminary stages. It will run 7.4 kilometres north from Finch station, with a stop at Steeles and Yonge.
“There will be a subway station there in the future. It will be well served by transit,” said Shefman. “It’s an area that we have identified for a combination of residence, office and retail in that area.”
For now, the retailers who will be the most impacted from this change have been left in the dark. Mizrahi, Dream and Westdale will continue to consult with local residents before submitting their proposal. Representatives from Mizrahi Developments did not return requests for comment.
“The plazas themselves are pretty old, beat up, and they are not reflecting what we want to see in that area.”
The current plaza at 100 Steeles Ave. W.