The North American Development Group is not a household name on UrbanToronto yet, but with its impeding plans to revolutionize the site of Agincourt Mall, the Markham-based international real estate management firm and developer—with over $4 billion in enterprise value—is about to get a lot better known.
Agincourt Mall sits on 26 acres at the northwest corner of Sheppard Avenue and Kennedy Road. Opened in 1966, the mid-sized mall is anchored by Walmart and No Frills, with another four dozen shops, eateries, and services lining the halls that connect them. While the Mall still serves the neighbourhood, most national brand retailers have moved on to malls with more regional pull, like Scarborough Town Centre a couple of kilometres away across the 401, and some units in Agincourt Mall now sit empty.
Despite the mall being past its prime when North American bought it in 2014, Vice President of Development Services Steven Bishop tells us "we saw opportunities here." North American owns over 23 million square feet of leasable retail space in 11 American states and six Canadian provinces. It has 49 centres in the US, 21 of them in Florida, and 27 in Canada, 17 of the in Ontario. In the 416 its largest development is the Steeles Tech Campus at Steeles and Victoria Park, but its huge Park Place big box centre at Hwy 400 and Mapleview in Barrie may be better known to those that head north occasionally. At their massive Dartmouth Crossing complex in Halifax, the company has begun to build housing, and the opportunities to transform this site—in the mold of the Shops at Don Mills, but with residential above—was top of mind for the company.
Agincourt Mall was built in the 1960s when the car was the only transportation mode that was really considered during the design phase. That resulted in the sea of surface parking that surrounds the buildings now, but it's a building form that we no longer find attractive. People now want places to stroll where cars have been removed to a degree. They want to be walking distance to shops and restaurants, services, and parks where they can kick back. To create a plan that gives potential new residents all of that, North American hired Giannone Petricone Associates, and the concept is seen above from street level, and below in the form a site plan.
The design introduces a new road pattern to the site, sections of which can be closed to cars when a festival is planned, but which emphasizes easy pedestrian connectivity throughout the site and to surrounding neighbourhood amenities, whether any street has been closed or not. The idea is to retain the two anchors—Walmart where the site plan above says "Anchor," and No Frills where the site plan says "Supermarket," and to build them in the centre of new blocks that have smaller shops and restaurants lining the outsides, while housing will rise above in both mid-rise podiums and in high-rise point towers. Offices could line the Sheppard and Kennedy frontages. All parking, other than a few lay-by spots, would go underground, as would service vehicles.
At the west end of the site, townhomes would look into a new park—part of a landscaped realm across the site designed by Janet Rosenberg + Studio. The park—with corresponding green spaces across a new road near the west edge of the site—would connect to a seniors community to the west, Ron Watson Park to the northwest, and Agincourt Library to the north.
Served by buses on Sheppard and Kennedy, the redevelopment will have a couple of LRT stops at its doorsteps—if not a subway station someday—and before either of those two possible outcomes occur, it's an eight minute walk from the centre of the site to Agincourt GO station. That station is on the Stouffville GO line, which, it was announced yesterday, will have two-way all-day service as of June 26, every hour during the midday and evening, to add to the rush hour service it currently enjoys. Even with the 401 just to the south, this corner of Scarborough is suddenly getting much connected to the rest of the GTA.
When presented to the community last week for feedback in a pre-application consultation, Bishop told us that there was nothing of any consequence that needed to change in the plans: those who saw the concept plans were pretty happy with what was presented, and in fact are looking forward to the mall getting this major makeover. The company can now work on the numbers; how many units of residential will be sought for example, how tall some of the towers might be, or how many underground parking spaces they will want. North American does say that they are looking to replace about 250,000 square feet of the existing 290,000 square feet of retail in the redevelopment. The rest of the details are still to be finalized.
We will be back with more information on the Agincourt Mall redevelopment as plan crystallize further. In the meantime, you can find more information and renderings in our Database file for the site, linked below. Want to talk about it? You can get in on the conversation in our associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.