Situated at the southwest corner of Dufferin and Dupont Streets, the Galleria Shopping Centre was recently purchased by Freed Developments and ELAD Canada at a price tag of $80 million. Last weekend, the developers and their team held the first of several community meetings, an occasion for the surrounding residents to directly express their expectations and concerns over the redevelopment of this 12 acre site.
Built in 1972, the Galleria replaced the former Dominion Radiator Company factory with a 21,000 square metre-space dedicated to retail. After more than 40 years of presence in the Wallace-Emerson neighbourhood, it has become an important hub and gathering point for the community. However, the transition of the Dupont Corridor from an industrial thoroughfare towards a more residential, retail, and leisure-focused avenue has put relative pressure on the mall and its sprawling parking lots, now an ideal redevelopment site.
In 2004, the previous owners of the mall submitted a first redevelopment plan for the property. Approved by the city, the project consisted in 1,600 residential units throughout six buildings - rising up to 19 storeys in height, including 3,600 square metres of non-residential spaces and an additional 1/2 acre of green space. Although this specific plan never did and never will materialize, it serves as a reference as to what to expect at minimum in terms of project scale.
Currently in a very preliminary phase, the Galleria redevelopment plan was presented by Peter Freed (CEO of Freed Developments) and Rafael Lazer (CEO of ELAD Canada) as a huge asset for the area, further highlighting their desire to establish a lasting dialogue with the community in order to achieve a win-win situation, where all parties will benefit form the project. Dedicated to transforming the Galleria lands into a vibrant destination while retaining the culture and social condition of the neighbourhood, developers reaffirmed their intention to create a middle to upper middle class neighbourhood.
Local councillors Ana Bailao and Cesar Palacio subsequently expressed their support to the project, stating that it will give the opportunity to improve the community through updated infrastructure such as parkland and transit, but also to enable new families to settle in the neighbourhood. Locals were finally given the occasion to voice their opinion to the planning team by leaving a comment on the dedicated sticker board, where they were asked for the kind of improvement and features they would like to see in the area, as well as what characteristics of the neighbourhood they would like to be retained.
A quick look at the feedback showed that the preservation of the affordable and diverse retail stores currently occupying the mall was mentioned several times, while improvements to the area's landscaping and the need for safe and family-friendly facilities and spaces were all deemed necessary. These comments will be taken into account during the elaboration of final redevelopment plan.
The plan is to be created by a team of well known Toronto firms. Urban Strategies is in charge of leading the planning and design team while managing the development approvals process. Hariri Pontarini Architects is providing their expertise in masterplanning, urban and architectural design for the project, further supervising several, but yet to be announced, firms for the design of each building. Landscape design has been put in the hands of Public Work, with BA Consulting Group responsible for assessing the existing transportation conditions, including parking, pedestrian cycling, transit and vehicular access and connectivity on and around the site.