Condos have a terrible impact on retail. This from someone who supports intensification and condos. Christopher Hume, Toronto Star Urban Issues and Architecture columnist, and an advocate of intensification, wrote in a recent article:
“As anyone who lives in Toronto knows, the condo has taken more from the city than it’s given. The economics of building, not to mention the culture of industrial development, civic planning and municipal politics, have left us more focused on minimum requirements than maximum expectations.
“The results have been deadly; Toronto is becoming a retail desert. Lined with the usual outlets, its streets are more generic, anonymous and boring than ever.
The recently approved 23 storey building on Burlington’s Brant Street reduces retail by 30% in one of downtown’s busiest pedestrian areas – directly across from City Hall. Staff want another 17+ storey building beside it, on the opposite side of James Street. Doing so will force out iconic downtown retailers such as Kelly’s Bake Shoppe, which has worked hard to create a wonderful shopping experience. Even if these retailers are offered space in new buildings, they lack the character of the existing ones, and come at a much higher price – in some cases unaffordable to existing businesses.
The recent condominium developments have created retail deserts in our own downtown. Because of their limited street appeal, they’ve become areas pedestrians quickly walk past on their way to somewhere else. Consider the empty storefronts on Pine St in the new building – then compare that to the thriving stores on the other side of the street in Village Square.
City Hall’s planning slogan is “Grow Bold”. Being bold should mean more than tall towers on a podium. It should include measures to ensure a healthy retail environment – but the tall building guidelines don’t focus on retail.
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