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Woodbine Centre

JasonParis

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Also, it's widely rumoured that Woodbine's days are numbered. There's a good chance that the current site will be developed and that a new mall of some sort will be built as part of the Woodbine Live! complex.

I do remember Woodbine Centre being quite the deal when it opened though, especially to those of us in Malton/Rexdale. Crazy that it may not even last 30 years as it was one of the more recent GTA malls (roughly the same age as The Promenade I believe).
 

scarberiankhatru

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Yes, Woodbine Live! will include retail...based on renderings and suspicions, it could be lifestyle centre-ish rather than enclosed, but there's bound to be some indoor mini-malls if the complex gets big enough. If Woodbine Closes, Live! will probably seek to build even more retail (or if Live! builds more retail, Woodbine will probably close...).

Woodbine should close and be replaced by a big residential cluster, oriented around a stop on a new transit line connecting York U to Jane & Finch to Rexdale to Humber to Woodbine to the airport to Kipling station :)
 

ShonTron

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I do remember Woodbine Centre being quite the deal when it opened though, especially to those of us in Malton/Rexdale. Crazy that it may not even last 30 years as it was one of the more recent GTA malls (roughly the same age as The Promenade I believe).
Woodbine Centre dates to the early 1980s, because I remember the big deal Fantasy Fair was as a kid. The Sears store, formerly Simpson's, has the same style as the former Simpson's at Shoppers World, which was built in the circa 1980 expansion there.

Promenade, Erin Mills and Mapleview I believe were in the last batch of new malls before Vaughan Mills, of course.
 

adma

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Woodbine Centre dates to the early 1980s, because I remember the big deal Fantasy Fair was as a kid. The Sears store, formerly Simpson's, has the same style as the former Simpson's at Shoppers World, which was built in the circa 1980 expansion there.
1985's the date, I believe. (I remember getting some Cyndi Lauper bubble gum there for camp value's sake.)

I'd probably agree (unless that load o'blubber Rob Ford dictates otherwise) that the more likely destiny for the Woodbine Centre site is residential--if only because of all those isolated shards of residential across the way (including that mind-blowing Byker Wall knockoff co-op) need a little knit-together focus...
 

Towered

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^^
I can vouch for the accuracy of 1985 - my parents took me there as a kid shortly after the mall opened. What a cool place it was! Blew all the other malls out of the water, mainly due to the Fantasy Fair, and it was packed all the time. What's the theory as to why it fell out of favour? Being in the middle of nowhere can't be the explanation since A) then it never would have attracted crowds in the first place, and B) the same could be said of Sherway, which has only gotten busier.
 

Coruscanti Cognoscente

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Probably the same reason that other malls aren't doing well, big box centres, like Heartland for example. The good malls are getting better, the shitty ones are trying the best they can and sucking.

Erin Mills opened in 1990, the last mall built in Ontario before Vaughan Mills, if I'm not mistaken. It has some decent anchors, but it's still not a busy mall at all, and is constantly in Square One's shadow. People go to Erin Mills only because it's not busy lol.
 

adma

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A subtler point: Woodbine opened just as the bottom was beginning to drop out of North Etobicoke's white Caucasian demo...

The new paradigm? Dr. Flea's.
 

adma

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A subtler, unheralded paradigm: the slots at Woodbine...
And when I think of it more deeply, how with the downslide of N Etobicoke + the addition of casino facilities and greater transit accessibility, the Woodbine Race Track array already seems to be more "integral" to the community than ever--far more so than the Woodbine Centre.

In a related note...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/nyregion/22otb.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

February 22, 2008
If OTB Goes, So Would a Relic of a Grittier City
By COREY KILGANNON
The Off-Track Betting parlor on Seventh Avenue at 38th Street is a two-story affair, psychically as well as architecturally.

Downstairs is a vast, dingy space with many scruffy characters soliciting change; on Thursday, a man wheeled in a shopping cart full of belongings in plastic bags and placed a bet.

Upstairs, $5 buys admission to the carpeted floors, plush seats, soft lighting and a multitude of simulcast screens; it was standing-room-only at midday when 85-year-old John Fellows, a retired actor who resembles an English country squire in appearance and demeanor, won the daily double on the first two races at Aqueduct.

“Wherever you have gambling, you’re going to have rich guys and beggars next to each other,†observed another bettor, Eric Quinones, 40. “And that’s what makes these places unique.â€

But the parlors’ green facades, a staple of New York’s storefront landscape, could be an endangered species. On Tuesday, the board overseeing the city’s OTB operations voted to close all 71 outposts by mid-June. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the state rules governing OTB spending were shortchanging the city, and that if the parlors were not closed, the city would have to start subsidizing them. State officials are contesting the closings.

The branches began opening in 1971, and each is a prism through which one can see an old neighborhood. As New York City has lost its grit, OTBs have persisted, like exhibits in the Damon Runyon Hustlers’ Hall of Fame, standing sentry against the march of upscale coffee chains, big-name retailers and new condominiums with exercise rooms.

Inside, there is an ever-narrowing slice of New York that still belongs to the hustler and the old timer. To the predominantly male clientele, these parlors are more than just a place to take a chance, they are unofficial social clubs with core groups of regulars.

“I have customers who spend 12 hours a day in here and bet one race,†said Karl Kelly, the regular bartender upstairs at the Seventh Avenue branch. “They just hang out with friends and spend five bucks for a whole day.

“You take these OTBs out of the neighborhood,†he added, “and you’re taking out all the flavor.â€

A marketing study conducted last year by the Boston Consulting Group shows that the typical customer in a city OTB is a “middle-aged male who bets approximately 12 times a month.†The study breaks the bettors into four categories: OTB whales, OTB regulars, carefree gamblers and social enthusiasts.

The first three groups are all “heavy bettors†who gamble large portions of their incomes, the study says, but the enthusiasts, who, it says, are “focused on social experience,†are singled out as a source of untapped revenue, who should be catered to with better facilities.

The study points to other cities and countries, like France, that have lured younger customers by glamorizing betting and, for example, putting betting windows in trendy cafes.

“Many of our branches are like social clubhouses or gathering places,†said Ira H. Block, general counsel for the city’s OTB operation.

Mr. Block said that OTB did not collect demographic data on customers because bets are anonymous, but that the clientele is typically over 50 and is declining in number, despite OTB’s attempts to attract younger customers.

For at least six years, even as the number of outposts has shrunk, the total amount of money waged — the city’s “handle†— has consistently been more than $1 billion, roughly half the total revenue taken in from the six OTB operations in the state, each of which is independently run according to the same state regulations.

Some bettors said they did not believe the closings were a sure thing.

Bob Monahan of Glendale, Queens, who said he started going with his father to the track at age 7, displayed a gambler’s skepticism, suggesting it was simply a bluff by the city to leverage a deal in talks with the state. But, he said, he would rather stick to debating odds on four-legged beasts than two-legged politicians.

“I wouldn’t bet against Bloomberg,†Mr. Monahan said as he stood inside O’Neill’s in Maspeth, Queens, one of eight restaurants that double as OTB parlors, with a betting window at the bar and simulcast monitors on the tables. “He’s very sharp. He has the money to bet on bigger things like stocks and bonds.â€

“Ask this guy,†Mr. Monahan said, pointing to a man in rumpled clothing, poring over his handicappers’ sheet. The man declined to comment, holding his finger to his lips and saying, “Officially, I’m not even here right now.†One of the first two locations scheduled to be shut is on Steinway Street in Astoria, a narrow hall with a core clientele of older men who speak Greek and read the tabloids. (The other is on Hylan Boulevard in New Dorp, Staten Island.)

The regulars show up, sip coffee, scribble on racing forms and test their hunches at the betting windows or computerized kiosks. With a backdrop of television screens showing races across the country, the customers chat and joke until post time, then spend a minute screaming at a television set together. After each race, the floor gets littered with a fresh batch of losing betting slips.

Some regulars in Astoria said they would most likely stop betting the horses if the place closed, while others said they would go to the Aqueduct or Belmont tracks to bet, or call a bookmaker or wager by phone using New York Racing Association accounts (the first and last of these are legal, the second, not).

At the Seventh Avenue OTB, Mr. Fellows, the retired actor, chewed his gum vigorously as the horses thundered down the stretch for Aqueduct’s second race on Thursday. His pick, Swept the Series, was first across the finish line — or won “going away†— and Mr. Fellows graciously accepted the congratulations of his cohort.

His mood changed, however, when asked about the possible closing of New Yorkâs OTBs.

“I’ll probably just stop betting and go to the theater more,†Mr. Fellows said. “But for a lot of these men, this is their only form of entertainment.â€
 

Towered

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So the other day I decided to take a little trip to Woodbine mall since I hadn't been there for quite some time, and I was curious to see if it had improved since the previous depressing visit. Nada. It's gotten worse actually. The writing was on the wall when I noticed that there were maybe 7 cars parked in front of one of the Bay entrances, and even the huge main entrance by the Fantasy Fair had ominously few parked cars (and this was after 5 pm, prime shopping hours). The place was a ghost town - hardly any shoppers milling about , and I've never seen so many completely bored looking retail staff. Some of them were leaning their faces on their hands, trying their damndest not to nod off.

Get this - I counted 28 empty store fronts. TWENTY EIGHT. And most of the rest seemed to be the type of no-name, fly-by-night operations offering cheap junk that typically fold 3 months after opening. And everything is so utterly dated - even the anchor department stores (Bay, Zellers and Sears) look exactly the way they did in 1985. No investment has occurred whatsoever, and who can blame them really?

The Fantasy Fair was just as sad. Hardly anyone about, and the very few rides that were in use had one or two kids on them at most. Even the large, faux-historic McDonald's is gone. The newest video game in the unsurprisingly empty arcade was from 1996, which really sums up the entire mall in a nutshell. At this point it's barely a step above South Asian flea market oblivion. Despite all that, there is no sign of physical neglect to the building itself; in fact it's spotless. If the style didn't give away its age you'd think it could have opened last week, but I guess it's easy to maintain something that hardly see any use. So sad when I think back to how busy and cool Woodbine used to be, but it has been languishing for a long time now.

I haven't been to an indoor mall this depressing since setting foot in Honeydale Mall a few months ago, Eglinton Square in the 90's, Rexdale Mall (now demolished and replaced by big box hell), Rockwood Mall in Mississauga (Dixie and Burnhamthorpe), or that piece of shit at Kipling and Queensway. Is Woodbine the only major regional indoor mall faring so poorly?
 

ShonTron

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I remember it all. The huge McDonald's, the giant playground that stretched over storefronts, the railway with the level crossings, the ferris wheel that dipped to the lower level, the scenes from the movie The Freshman.

Shoppers World Brampton did very poorly until RioCan took over the property and boxed the place, demolishing a large section for a Crappy Tire and all sorts of work, including a food court that didn't make one want to vomit. It's doing better, but it lost the Bay store. The Price Chopper closed too, but that likely only improves its prestige (it closed after a Real Canadian SuperStore moved in across the street - man was Price Chopper dirty). An Asian supermarket (Oceans) is moving in.
 

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