Toronto

Giant market made primarily of shipping containers set to open in Toronto

If all goes according to plan, the complex at 28 Bathurst St. will open this spring

Posted: January 06, 2019
Last Updated: January 06, 2019

The shipping container market is already starting to take shape on Bathurst Street near Front Street West. (Mike Smee/CBC News)

A 2.6-acre plot of city-owned land that has been vacant for years is being transformed into a vibrant marketplace with restaurants, bars and shops, all of which will be built entirely from shipping containers.

If all goes according to plan, the complex at 28 Bathurst St. will open this spring. 

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"Rather than leave it sitting there vacant as unused land for years and years, we've partnered with an entrepreneur to create an innovative stacked container market," said Coun. Joe Cressy​.

Coun. Joe Cressy says the space will eventually be used to build a park, but in the meantime people will have a place to do a little shopping. (Tina Mackenzie/CBC News)

The company overseeing this project is called Stackt, and its founder Matt Rubinoff says construction is almost finished.

"We've got approximately 100 containers on site, and will probably have a total of around 120," Rubinoff said.

Those shipping containers will house about 30 different businesses, Rubinoff said.

"Retail is one aspect, we have showrooms, we have studio spaces, we have restaurants."

The size of the spaces will vary, ranging from 140 square feet to 1,800 square feet. In some cases two businesses will operate out of one container. They can also connect multiple containers together, by removing some of the walls, to create much bigger spaces.  

In the contract with Stackt, the city mandated that 15 per cent of the spaces would be set aside for social community enterprises. Among them will be a vertical farm and a greenhouse.

"We're going to be growing vegetation on site," said Rubinoff.

Some of the empty shops that will be part of the shipping container market. (Mike Smee/CBC News)

In addition to that Rubinoff says they plan to commission artists to come in and decorate the exterior walls of the shipping containers.

"Those basically act as a canvas for us," he said. "They're a great opportunity for us to have artists come in and use those and really, sort of bring the site to life."

The stacked container market will only be around for a limited time. The idea is a temporary fix for the property, which has been designated to become a park.

"We're in the design phase right now and so in 2019 we're going to be hosting public meetings to undergo a design visioning session," Cressy said. "Our hope and expectation will be to have a park under construction in the coming years."

Stackt has a two-year lease on the land, at the end of which there's a good possibility they'll have to tear the market down.

"The shipping containers are a modular construction type," Rubinoff said. "They are able to be placed in very easily and you can also pick it up at the end of the day and move really easily."

There is no firm date planned for the opening of the market, but Rubinoff says it could be ready by late March or early April. 

With files from Greg Ross