Demolition and reconstruction have been ongoing at the Yonge Sheppard Centre in North York since early 2016. The extensive RioCan REIT and KingSett Capital project involves a thorough reworking of the complex's interior layout, new retailers and services, improved connections for those using Sheppard-Yonge station where two subway lines meet, and a new residential rental tower at the north end of the site. While structural and interior work continues throughout the 1976-built complex, tenants are starting to appreciate the fact that they can see the finished product starting to appear in places.  

Panorama of the Yonge Sheppard Centre viewed from the west side of Yonge Street, image by Jack Landau

The centre's two main retail floors were built half a floor below and half a floor above the Yonge Street sidewalk, leaving a 'moat' with stairs up or down between the street and the complex's hallways. According to Rosa Garofalo, General Manager at RioCan, the moat made it “hard [for passersby] to tell that there was substantial retail here; there wasn’t a big retail presence at street level.” The renewed and improved Yonge Sheppard Centre, however, is placing increased emphasis on its interaction with the two streets from which the property draws its name, and bringing the facade and street-level retail out to meet both of them. Rebuilt interior hallways will be used to accomplished the grade change.  

The former moat being removed at the northeast corner of Yonge and Sheppard, image by Jack Landau

Two ground-level entrances to the rebuilt mall will be added from Yonge Street. Beside the south tower, visitors will enter the mall via a three-storey atrium with ample natural light penetrating a massive skylight running the full length of the space.

Future atrium at Yonge Sheppard Centre, image courtesy of RioCan

To create the skylight, an existing 2nd level concrete slab will be cut into.

Future three-storey atrium dividing the mall from the south tower, image by Jack Landau

The completed hallway will include a large video wall, escalators connecting with a new Longo’s grocery store, and a new L.A. Fitness facility. It is on track to open for December 2018, with the Longo’s space expected to open shortly thereafter. RioCan anticipates that a Grand Opening celebration will follow in Spring of 2019 to officially mark the mall’s completion. Views into the structurally complete but still unfinished mall replacement structure show the future spaces of these anchor tenants on the third and fourth levels. 

Facing north into the new mall structure, image by Jack Landau

Four elevators will connect the retail floors with parking below. The elevators will be extra-large freight-type cabs to accommodate shoppers with carts moving between retailers and parking. To prepare shafts for the elevators, crews are currently cutting away sections of concrete from the structure.

Future site of the mall's oversized elevators, image by Jack Landau

Closer to the north end of the site, the other Yonge Street mall entrance will divide the addition from the existing north tower. Between the two mall entrances will be street fronting restaurants with patios situated along a wide sidewalk. The restaurants and their flanking mall entrances will help animate the block by giving pedestrians reasons to linger. 

Yonge Sheppard Centre's future Yonge Street frontage, image courtesy of RioCan

Restaurants now confirmed for the Yonge frontage include Basil Box, iQ Foods, Chipotle, and Blaze Pizza.

Yonge Sheppard Centre's Yonge Street frontage, image by Jack Landau

Some of the mall and a number of retailers are already open as the renovation work continues behind colourful construction hoarding. Below, stairs terminating just shy of the hoarding indicate that the main corridor will be extended eastward.  

Open section of mall with active work zone behind hoarding, image by Jack Landau

A look behind that hoarding reveals that walls separating the individual retailers are partially in place. Metal framing is in place for the drop ceiling that will conceal the plumbing and electrical infrastructure above.

Future retail spaces behind hoarding, image by Jack Landau

Part of the rebuilt food court is already in operation, with new tenants including A&W and Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and returning tenants like Jimmy the Greek and Furama Dim Sum.

Phase 1 of the food court is now operational, image by Jack Landau

Restaurants opening in the second phase of the food court include Grill it Up, Butter Chick, Thai Express, Pota-topia, Villa Madina, Popeyes, and Freshii. The second phase of the new food court’s common areas are set to open in about two weeks. Tenants of the phase two food court spaces have already begun interior fit outs of their spaces, with the restaurants scheduled to open by December.

Common areas in phase 2 of the food court nearing completion, image by Jack Landau

Other confirmed retailers within the mall include Freshly Squeezed, GNC, Meridian Bank, Golden Pretzel, Bell, Koodo Mobile, Cellrox, Dumont Optical, Purdy’s Chocolatier, and the Sheppard Ticket Centre. Existing tenants like the multiple banks, Dollarama, and Tim Hortons locations will retain space in the renovated mall. In total, at least 70% of the mall’s space is now accounted for in leasing deals.

A new daycare facility will replace the former Kids & Co. daycare on site. RioCan is currently in negotiations with multiple daycare providers, with this component of the project still approximately a year and a half away from realization. This facility will be built atop the second level of the complex's Sheppard Avenue frontage, where one of the mall's former Cineplex theatres previously stood.

View of future daycare site to the east of the south tower, image by Jack Landau

Further to the east, a two-storey section of the Sheppard frontage, between the coming daycare and the existing residential tower to the east, has been replaced with a collection of back-to-back townhomes.

Townhomes on the Sheppard Avenue frontage, image by Jack Landau

The project also includes an even larger residential component, to be built east of the north office tower and fronting on Greenfield Avenue. Rising 35 storeys and designed by Quadrangle, this rental tower will add 359 new apartments to the site. While plenty of below-grade structural work has already been carried out, the tower site is expected to remain dormant until late next year when construction is anticipated to officially begin.

Future rental tower at Yonge Sheppard Centre, image courtesy of Quadrangle

In the UrbanToronto Forum thread dedicated to the project, plenty of attention has been paid recently to what appears to be black paint on the concrete facades of the south tower’s lower levels. In fact, this is the first sign of something much more significant: this material is actually a weatherproofing primer, which is being used to treat the existing precast concrete in advance of a full re-clad of the two office towers. 

Black weatherproofing in advance of re-cladding work, image by Jack Landau

The complex’s 1976 Brutalist exterior will be modernized with a gunmetal grey composite aluminum cladding that will also serve to improve the towers’ thermal performance. Recladding activity is expected to commence before the end of the year, starting with the shorter north tower. Other changes coming to the office towers include a second level restaurant proposed for the south tower and overlooking the Yonge and Sheppard intersection.

New exteriors for Yonge Sheppard Centre's office towers, image courtesy of Quadrangle

We will be sure to keep an eye out for news on the project as construction continues and as openings draw closer. In the meantime, additional information and new images for the project can be found in our database file, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment using the field provided at the bottom of this page.

Related Companies:  Entuitive, KingSett Capital, Kramer Design Associates Limited, Quadrangle, RioCan REIT, Terraplan/Studio TLA, The Mitchell Partnership Inc., Vertechs Design