Promenade Mall is set to undergo a massive transformation after plans were submitted to the City of Vaughan that envision a modern mall surrounded by high-rise towers and connected to a growing transit system.
The mall is situated on a 50-acre site on the south-west corner of Bathurst Street and Centre Street in a high-demand and growing area of Thornhill that has been highlighted for increased densification. The indoor mall currently boasts over 150 tenants – including H&M, Old Navy, Imagine Cinemas and T&T Supermarket – and has a large amount of surface parking on all sides.
In April 2017, it was bought by Promenade Limited Partnership – a new company formed by Liberty Developments and the Serruya family – which made development a likely possibility. The development of the area became even more likely when Sears Canada closed down, costing the mall one of its main anchor tenants and reducing foot traffic as a result.
So, it was somewhat expected when a planning application was recently filed with the City of Vaughan. In this application it was indicated that there will be several phases of redevelopment and this particular application focused only on the first phase, which is based around the area to the immediate east and south-east of the current mall.
The application calls for the demolition of the former Sears store that is located at the south end of the mall and occupies 18,756 square metres of space. This will be replaced by 15,773 square metres of new retails space that will be built during the initial phase. Four new buildings are also proposed in the application: three residential towers (two of which will be on the site of the Sears store) and a combined office and hotel tower. In addition to the four towers, the application proposes a new “High Street” and an urban square.
The residential towers will contain 1066 units. The two that will be built on the site of the Sears store will be joined together by a six-storey podium level and will be 35 and 30 storeys tall. The third residential building will be slightly smaller at 28 storeys. Out of the total 1066 units, 628 will be one-bedroom suites, 390 will be two-bedroom suites, and the remainder will be three-bedroom suites. Meanwhile, the mixed-use tower will be 28 storeys tall and will have 156 hotels suites and 24,392 square metres of office space.
These four towers will all be connected by the new High Street that is part of the development. According to the design rationale submitted to the City of Vaughan, the High Street will be “a wide, landscaped and pedestrian-oriented retail boulevard that will (ultimately) create a north-south thoroughfare from Centre Street to Clark Avenue West, connecting the retail district with the existing residential district to the south and east.”
In addition to the beginnings of this new thoroughfare, phase one will also include a new pedestrian entrance to the mall from the eastern side, close to Bathurst Street. This will lead to the new urban square that will, in the words of the design rationale, “encourage walking and provide locations for exterior retail food and beverage opportunities.”
The application acknowledges that this development will result in a large reduction of surface level parking on the east side of the mall and proposes to replace this with a three-level underground parking lot. In addition to some street parking that will be added on one side of the High Street, these means that the needs of traffic should be met in the newly redesigned mall.
With Liberty Development part of the ownership group, it is likely that they will be responsible for the large development. They have built a number of impressive residential and commercial projects in the Greater Toronto Area – many in York Region – but none on such a grand scale. It will be exciting to watch how their work progresses on such an impressive and ambitious project.