There’s talk that shopping malls are becoming a thing of the past. Thanks to online shopping and the rise of big-box stores, the retail industry is evolving, and some of our favourite malls have been made obsolete in the process.
Galleria Shopping Centre, the 1970s mall on the corner of Dufferin and Dupont streets, was the latest to go in a long line of past Toronto malls. With demolition underway as of January, the land once occupied by the 50-tenant shopping centre will be absorbed into the master-planned community, Galleria on the Park.
Whether you love the mall for its diversity of shopping options, or just the food court, here’s a short list of nostalgia-worthy Toronto malls and iconic stores that are set to become new residential developments.
1. Honest Ed’s
When it was still standing, you couldn’t miss Honest Ed’s if you tried. Sitting at the southwest corner of the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst streets, the iconic discount store lit up Mirvish Village with its twinkling incandescent lights, puns, and bold red and yellow colours.
The bazaar was opened in 1943 by Canadian businessman Ed Mirvish and his wife, Anne. Originally called The Sports Bar, Honest Ed’s began as a women’s clothing store before expanding into nearby buildings and rebranding as Honest Ed’s in the late 1940s. By 1984, the store spanned from Markham Street east to Bathurst Street, and debuted its iconic marquee sign, lit with 23,000 light bulbs. Honest Ed’s and the surrounding stores were put up for sale in 2013, six years after Mirvish’s death, and was purchased by Westbank that October. After 68 years in business, the store closed on New Year’s Eve in 2016.
Westbank is developing a reimagined Mirvish Village, one that will include several low- and high-rise buildings over multiple phases. More than 855 residential units are expected to be completed by 2022.
2. Galleria Shopping Centre
Photo: James Bombales
This mall was stuck in 1972. Donning a pebbly facade, strobe lighting and polished brown-beige tile floors, this mall retained a lot of errecentric charm. Once anchored by Price Chopper and Zellers, The Galleria Mall was the place to find dollar bargains and your weekly basics.
In 2015, the site was purchased by Elad Canada, which is now in the process of turning the area into a mixed-use residential and commercial community. The future Galleria on the Park will consist of eight high-rise towers, a 95,000 square-foot community centre, office space and new retail areas.
3. Plant World
The five-acre plant nursery on Eglinton Avenue West and Royal York Road was once home to flowers and plants of every kind. Now, bigger plans are in the works for the former garden enthusiasts’ haven.
Lanterra Developments is in the process of selling units for the Notting Hill Condos, which when finished in 2024, will equal 1,320 new residential units. An outdoor lounge area, a fitness centre and party room amenities will also be included.
4. IDOMO Furniture
You might be familiar with the former furniture store by its eccentric owner, Gerrit de Boer, who sported an impressive beard and made wacky commercials to promote his business. In its prime, the local furniture franchise had locations in Mississauga, Montreal, Hamilton and Toronto. The flagship store, located at Sheppard Avenue and Allen Road, lost over $1 million worth of product to raw sewage in 2002 that was pumped from portable toilets at a Catholic youth event in Downsview Park.
Now that de Boer has retired and IDOMO Furniture is no more, Igernan Limited is looking to redevelop the Downsview location into a 14-storey condo project with 385 units.
5. Designer’s Walk
This strip of red-bricked buildings has been a hub for the interior design industry since the 1980s. Trade professionals, architects, decorators and creatives have long co-existed in this five-building lot that sits between The Annex and Yorkville neighbourhoods on Davenport Road.
With the help of BBB Architects, Cityzen Development Group has proposed a sprawling 92-unit, mixed-use community for the lot, one that will feature open balconies with greenery and an expanded commercial centre.
6. World’s Biggest Bookstore
While the World’s Biggest Bookstore didn’t quite live up to its title — a larger Barnes & Noble exists in New York — the three-storey bookstore was another quirky Toronto retail landmark. A short walk from the Eaton Centre, World’s Biggest Bookstore operated from 1980 until it was bought and later closed in 2014.
Taking over the site on 20 Edward Street, Panda Condos is currently under construction, with completion expected by May 2021.
7. Cumberland Terrace
Cumberland Terrace is sitting on prime Yorkville real estate. The 1970s multi-level mall is sandwiched between a myriad of ongoing development, including Great Gulf and Phantom Developments’ 8 Cumberland, plus Mizrahi Developments’ The One.
Kingsett Capital has ideas to replace the mall with a lavish three-tower residential concept, one that would also include new retail spaces designed by Giannone Petricone Associates Inc.
8. Newtonbrook Plaza
The red-roofed shopping plaza at Yonge Street and Cummer Avenue was anchored by a popular Food Basics location, accompanied by a bowling alley, bulk food store and other small businesses.
A series of new condo towers will take over the site of the master-planned community, developed by global developer Aoyuan International and designed by Wallman Architects.