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Village Square for sale

Burlington's Village Square The Village Square property at Pine, Elizabeth and Pearl streets in downtown Burlington has been offered for sale for as a “significant residential development” opportunity, or alternatively as a “repositioning opportunity” that would retain and capitalize on the historic town square feel and unique shops here.

If some or all of the site is redeveloped, the Official Plan permits a height for this site of four storeys with a possibility to go to eight storeys. The zoning on the site permits four storeys. Some of the properties are on the Heritage Registry, but none are designated.

Your Take:  What’s your vision for Village Square. Please comment below or email me at meedwardm@burlington.ca.
My Take:   This quaint enclave of shops and historic buildings is a jewel in Burlington’s downtown and needs to be preserved. Though it has been struggling with empty storefronts in recent years, there are complex reasons for that, including the economy and the layout of our downtown, which doesn’t easily draw people off of Brant Street to the shops a few blocks over.  I will be watching what happens here very closely and keeping residents informed with a view to maintaining the character of this area.

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

20 Comments

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  1. I really hope that the Village Square stays exactly the same and is maintained to continue as it stands. Everyone that visits me in Burlington is always stunned at the beauty of this square. I bring them to the square for a walk through its beautiful architecture. It doesn’t matter that there aren’t a ton of businesses inside it, but there would be if it was affordable. I would like to start a fundraiser to help preserve this beautiful square. If all the owners want is tons of money then we don’t have much of a chance, but if they are willing to work with the community that so desperately wants this landmark to survive then I think they should be considering these options. It would be appalling if the City of Burlington did nothing to save this landmark from being turned into yet another condo.

  2. I can remember my mom taking my sister and I to Village Square as a child to shop. We always stopped in at the Toy Store with the Nutcracker Soldier in front. My mom used to buy tea towels and linen napkins at the Quilt Store, followed by lunch at the restaurant that was there at the time. It is such a beautiful, quiet place nestled in the heart of Burlington. If it were revitalized with more publicity, I believe people would begin shopping there again. Please don’t let them turn it into more condos!

  3. It is unfortunate that the Village Square suffered from the Jackson Square syndrome – high rent costs chased everyone away. It’s a very beautiful location, but with no stores in it and no prospect of a retail future, it is nothing more than a ghost town. Here is an idea: The City of Burlington could purchase the Village Square and turn it into a public park (rather than another condominium) with flower beds and a beautiful fountain in the centre, where certain buildings, such as the fire house on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Pine Street could be retained as an ornament. I can imagine that the property will become a condominium, however, which may actually prove to be more successful, as a condominium can have shops below around the perimeter – hopefully with lower rent to allow for retail to survive.

  4. Like Len, I remember the Village in its heyday. Its juxtapostion to the bus terminal and the layout of the routes – most terminating and starting at the terminal gave it a special advantage. That bus terminal was another jewel and it raised the property values and prosperity of the area. Greed saw the property under that terminal as too tempting. I am off track. I would love to see the property kept with its current styling and adapting it to a live/work set up. Make the upper floors, which are not great retail locations, into affordable loft-style apartments. Some of the single floor buildings could also be adapted for habitation. Some buildings could be redesigned to have second or maybe even third floors for apartments. This would ensure a steadier income from the renters or leasers than the retail tenants and encourage more foot traffic from the occupants and their visitors.

  5. It doesn’t surprise me that the Village Square is up for sale and will be developed into another set of condo’s. That is what the owner wanted ever since the bus terminal was moved, and the steady stream of pedestrian traffic stopped. The stores had outrageous lease cost increases in recent years, from speaking to people that used to be there. The intent was to force the store out. Parking was such a hassle, especially after the lot by the church became private. Last time we went to the Village Square, which was the Rude Native before it moved, we got a ticket there. I thought it was still a municipal lot. The heritage buildings should be kept, including the old firehall that is now a LCBO. We’re looking more and more like Mississauga every day so perhaps the new owner can incorporate them someway to make the development look different. I remember Village Square in it’s hay day …. early 80’s when it was filled with bustling odd little stores, the concerts in the square. Restaurants that looked out onto the snow covered roofs and stores covered with little fairy lights. It was beautiful. I remember the snow piled high and it looked like a little Victorian village. I imagined the downtown core becoming all like this … and then it started to die.

  6. I am glad to see that the village square is for sale, how sad it has been to watch this once vibrant shopping area in decline. It is always such a shame when you walk thru it. So much speculation as to what happened. I wold love to see a nice shopping area like the one in Oakville with a little green space.

  7. Please, not another Condo!! I agree, what a chance for the City to step up, and help to revitalize the downtown, and draw the crowds required. I have lived in the core for 10 yrs, but my mother use to own a store in downtown Burlington, when the Village Square was in it’s hey day. We need to get Burlington back to that. We need a place with reasonable rents to draw more amazing shops and restaurants, and we need the city, and our councillors to support this, and not Condos!

  8. Couldn’t agree more with Len Wagstaffe! As a lifetime resident of Burlington and a homeowner in the core I think we need to fight to preserve and enhance the Village square. This is a jewel that we can’t allow to be turned into another condo. The city of Burlington needs to have some vision and show some strong leadership here to make this the vibrant hub of the core that it was always intended to be.

  9. I like the idea of making the Village Square into a central market district, with a farmers’ market component in the square. .This would help to boost nearby businesses and attract people to this side of Downtown Burlington. Plus, it would be a much better home for the market than the current mall parking lot setup. Maybe to make it financially feasible, some low-rise condos might have to be added, but we can do far better than just tearing it down and building condominiums.

  10. I have lived downtown for 34 years. Question: Why can numerous businesses on Brant Street that used to be in Village Square thrive after moving? My understanding is that the absentee landlord originally charged reasonable rents on short term leases and then would only renew at a non-competitive rate, charged marketing fees that were too high and refused to accept valuable input from tenants as to how the marketing money was spent (if spent at all). There used to be gift shops, a toy store, an independent jeweller, bakery, restaurants, a quilt shop, shoe stores, art shop, hair salons, clothiers, a card shop… it was a great place to shop! One Christmas most of the small shops in the Square were rented out for the season to a variety of artisans. It could have been a tourist attraction like St. Jacobs, but has instead sat as a ghost square. It should be mixed use, retail, commercial and residential. We don’t need just more condos.

  11. This might be a great opportunity for the city to do whatever it can to turn Village Square in its existing format into a place where all the shop space had tenants who were thriving. Could be easier said than done but consider the alternative. If this becomes yet another 8 storey development it’s just one more step towards the “Canyon-ization” of the downtown.

  12. This is a unique opportunity for the City to step up.
    Maybe not as an owner (although that could be possible) but as a “partner” keeping the taxes in line so new and former businesses can be a part of Village square and prosper.
    This is a fantastic opportunity for Burlington to make the “top ten” city’s where business in the downtown core are an advantage.
    Doug

  13. I would like to see Village Square rejuvenated into a combination of shops and offices. It is a unique, quaint area which should be kept, not converted into townhouses or condos.

  14. I’ve lived in Burlington for 8 years and I always been saddened by the lack of shops and vibrancy in the village square and the loss of the Rude Native restuarant just seemed to put the final nail in the coffin. The current owners should be ashamed of themselves for letting the square rot for their own financial gain and the thought of yet another “faceless” condo building just angers me because the downtown core deserves better than that. I hope that the council and mayor see this and stop another travesty from blotting the city. There must be a better way to bring new vibrancy to this wonderful city.

  15. What a joke. Another multistory condo units with no parking. I lived downtown for many years and got tired of not being to see the lake. Just what what we need downtown more condos with not enough parking. Ive known people who try to rent out those stores but the rent is 3 to 4 times what it should be. The owner hangs on to the property and say he can’t rent out the space because he wants to sell the property for condo development at 3 to 4 times what its worth and he would have sold already if it wasn’t for the heritage aspect of it. This would be the start of the end of downtown Burlington.

  16. finally. This place has been a hole in the neighbourhood for as long as i have lived here. I can only hope that it doesn’t become more high rise condos. we have enough of those in my opinion and they are ruining the “downtown feel” of the area.

  17. Finally… I have lived in Burlington all my life (50) years and remember when village square was a new hope for the downtown core. I have watched in disgust as that hope sat idle and shops came and went. Most shop space has sat vacant for years in the village square. It has been an embarrassment to visitors I bring to the area and all say what a shame when I explain the history and frustrating reasons for the village ghost town. I looked forward to the day when those reasons were no longer present. I would hope the city shows some vision and does not let an opportunity to purchase this defining property slip away. If you ask me I would have purchased this property and try to revitalize the downtown by making this a central part of our core. It could become a vibrant busy place with a all outdoor market on weekends and shops that people could actually afford to rent with products people want to buy not hobby businesses. I amp looking forward to your thoughts on this topic. Len Wagstaffe

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