November 23rd, 2010

According to the utterly infallible Wikipedia, Etobicoke accounts for 13% of Toronto’s population and covers 20% of its total land area and is home to 334,491 people (as of a 2006 census).

Well, that population number is about to increase a whole lot more as a trio of developers have some big plans for the Humber Bay area.

There is a TON of development going on in Etobicoke at the moment and over the next few years it should really come into its own as a distinctive part of the city.

With all the new housing units going up, there is a dire need for some complimentary retail to service the burgeoning population, and that’s where three developers with Humber Bay sites are coming to the rescue.

Graywood Developments, Onni Group of Companies and Amexon Development each have a project in development in the area and each company recognizes the need to include a retail component.

“It’s a fantastic water front location and there aren’t many undeveloped ocean front areas left in the city. In keeping with that and the way the property is configured, we thought that there was a demand for a waterfront restaurant/bistro,” says Stephen Price, COO of Graywood Developments Ltd, who’s Ocean Club Waterfront Condominiums [map] are at pre-construction stage.

The restaurant at Ocean Club will be roughly 6,800 sq. ft. including kitchen, mezzanine area and generous 1,500 sq. ft. outdoor patio area. It sits on the southern most tip of the development and will front onto the waterfront with views of the Martin Goodman trail in front and the butterfly sanctuary further on, not to mention the great views of the city skyline.

“We felt that having an outdoor patio was particularly suitable to this site and would be appealing to not only the residents of this building but to the surrounding developments also. There are other restaurants in the area but we saw that there is demand for more “lifestyle retail” that will allow people to spend more time in the immediate area as opposed to travelling in their cars to other locations.”

Mr. Price also commented that the pace of sales for Ocean Club has got him thinking of accelerating some schedules. Graywood are anxious to start the process of identifying an operator for the bistro to ensure that their plan of having it open for when first occupancy of the condo is scheduled for remains on target.

Graywood aren’t the only folks in town looking to spruce up the area.

“When we purchased the site at Park Lawn and Lakeshore we saw it as having an opportunity of being more than simply a high rise residential project, which had principally been approved”, says Ian Duke, VP Corporate Development of Onni Group of Companies.

Onni’s West Lake Village [map] is in registration phase at the moment and is due to launch soon, with a massive 60,000 sq. ft. retail complex in the works.
“It’s located at a great intersection in terms of traffic and visibility and seeing the growth of high rise residential development in the area, an increase in population, and a lack of retail and social amenities to match the neighbourhood, we realised we had a big enough site here to do something substantial.”

“We did a lot of work with our consultants and architects and developed a plan that would accommodate a major grocery anchor, likely a pharmacy anchor, and enough ancillary retail to hopefully create a village feel and provide a full range of amenities – cafes, maybe a restaurant, banking… know the whole experience so that people could park and get a bunch done.”

The first committed retailer to the project is a major national grocery chain, who just recently put pen to paper on opening up a store on site.

“The key was to get our anchor committed and I think everything else falls into place once you have a good strong anchor.”

“It’s a great area – the green space, the proximity to the lake, it’s relatively easy to get in and out of the area and head to downtown, but it doesn’t have that complete community array of amenities that i think ultimately you’re gonna want to have there.”

“For those living in our development or close by, it’s an easy walk and it gives them a sort of social hub which has somewhat been lacking in the area.”
Developer Amexon has a similar idea for their South Beach Condos [map] development, but have a somewhat different approach to implementation.
“We have a 16,000 sq. ft retail complex which is going to be the gateway entrance to the complex,” said Jason Shiff, Executive VP of Sales for South Beach Condos.

“It’s very exciting and will add a lot to the infrastructure of the area. It’s high end and will be open to anybody in the area. We’re keeping everything in-house – we’re gonna run it with our own people. We have a hotel, a restaurant and cafe so we’re gonna run it ourselves.”
Operating the retail outlets with their own staff will ensure an unmistakable South Beach “identity” that is uniform throughout the entire complex – nice for residents who want to know they are in good hands.

“It was a very, very unique selling feature for our project. I think it’s going to add a lot to the area – there’s not much that’s close to the water right now and there’s not too much retail so it’s going to add a lot to the infrastructure and wil increase the property value of the surrounding area.”

The face of Etobicoke is due to change substantially over the next few years. With the new influx of retail and condo units, now might be a good time to investigate investment opportunities in the area.

Each of the developers mentioned that the plan was to have all or at least some of the retail components of their respective projects open by the time first occupancy of their condo units comes around, so that when people move in, they’ll be able to reap the benefits straight away.

And so ends the longest article in BuzzBuzzHome history – PHEW!!!

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