A wave of shopping mall redevelopments is hitting Toronto's inner suburbs, and the latest to come forward is the Bayview Village Redevelopment. Located adjacent to Bayview subway station on Sheppard Avenue East, the mid-century mall surrounded by surface parking lots is a prime candidate for added density, given its location along a major transit corridor. Headed by QuadReal and designed by DIALOG and Hariri Pontarini Architects, the proposal would add five new mixed-use residential and commercial buildings around the existing mall, ranging in height from 6 to 33 storeys. The project made its first appearance at Toronto's Design Review Panel recently.

Rendering of the southwest towers, image courtesy of QuadReal.

The project is divided into two major nodes of activity. The southwest corner of the site, located along Sheppard, would see the greatest density, with a pair of 28 and 33-storey towers constructed atop an 8-storey podium. The building would comprise a total of 760 residential units with 4,881 square metres of retail space on the ground and second floors. The building also includes a new entrance to the adjacent subway station, accessed off an outdoor plaza that helps to mitigate a 6-metre change in grade from one end of the building to the other.

Rendering of the Bayview Village Redevelopment, image courtesy of QuadReal.

The other node of activity is the north edge of the site, where two 6-storey mid-rises and a 19-storey tower on a 6-storey podium are proposed to be constructed along Bayview Mews. The three buildings would total 372 new residential units along with 8,796 square metres of grade-level retail. Joined by a one-storey extension of the existing mall, the northern part of the site is transformed into an east-west outdoor retail promenade, reminiscent of the original Bayview Village mall that was built as an open-air shopping centre before it was enclosed in the 1980s. The remainder of the Bayview Village property will be left as surface parking for the time being, to be considered for redevelopment at a future date.

Site plan of the Bayview Village Redevelopment, image courtesy of QuadReal.

The Panel was very supportive of the proposal, saying that it was an appropriate urbanization of a very suburban typology. They did, however, offer some suggestions and critiques to further improve the project.

While Panelists were in favour of the new outdoor promenade along the north edge of the site, they were concerned about the impact that the development would have on the residential communities along Bayview Mews. They were weary of the increased traffic and services along the street, and encouraged the designers to further consider the streetscape design and impacts along Bayview Mews and Hawksbury Drive. Panelists also expressed concern that the 19-storey tower at the northeast corner of the site might be a bit too tall.

Rendering of the 19-storey tower, image courtesy of QuadReal.

Several Panel members pointed out that the public realm of the scheme seemed slightly undercooked, and that they would like to see a more comprehensive landscape and public realm plan. Designers were urged to consider pedestrian movement through and around the mall, and also better connectivity between the various parts of the site. Suggestions were also made to consider the experience of the thresholds and access to the site, as well as the potential for converting the roof of the existing mall into a green roof. The retail promenade to the north was also criticized as being too much of a hardscape.

Rendering of the north outdoor retail promenade, image courtesy of QuadReal.

Zooming out, Panel members pondered whether a master plan for the whole site might help in understanding how it fits within its context, as the undeveloped plots of land along the south edge of the site seemed forgotten in the overall scheme. They suggested that designing a master plan might better help integrate the public realm design and produce a much more successful redevelopment plan that would also better transition the future replacement of the remaining surface parking.

Ground floor plan of the north edge of the site, image courtesy of QuadReal.

The high-level thinking by Panel members led some to encourage the design team not to stop halfway with the urbanization of this property, but to fully commit to a redevelopment of the site with a more comprehensive public realm plan and master plan.

Overall, the Panel was pleased with the proposal, and were optimistic that this development would have a positive transformative effect along this busy stretch of Sheppard, encouraging the design team to further push the urbanization of the site. The final vote tally was seven in favour of refinement of the current proposal, and one in favour of a redesign.

Rendering of the north outdoor retail promenade, image courtesy of QuadReal.

We will keep you updated as the Bayview Village Redevelopment continues to work its way through the planning process, but in the meantime, you can get in on the discussion by checking out the associated Forum thread, or by leaving a comment in the space provided on this page.

Related Companies:  Bousfields, Egis, Gradient Wind Engineers & Scientists, Hariri Pontarini Architects, Janet Rosenberg & Studio, Peter McCann Architectural Models Inc., QuadReal Property Group, RJC Engineers