Toronto

Yorkdale Mall could be getting a 'boutique' hotel, condos in possible makeover

Local residents will be getting the first look Thursday at what the Yorkdale mall site could look like in the next 20 years, including possible condos, offices and a hotel.

A public consultation will review conceptual, long-term plans of possible development on the site

Yorkdale Shopping Centre says its tenants employ approximately 6,680 part-time and full-time staff, which translates to approximately 4,580 direct full-time jobs on the site. (Oxford Properties/Yorkdale.com)

Yorkdale shoppers are familiar with the ins-and-out of the popular retail hotspot now but the shopping centre could look drastically different over the next two decades. 

Residents in the vicinity of the mall will be getting a first look Thursday night at the mall's conceptual master plan, which includes possible condos, offices and even a hotel.

The city is inviting area residents to an open house at Yorkdale Secondary School, on Orfus Road near Dufferin Street and Lawrence Avenue West, to get feedback on the possible changes. 

They will be reviewing an application from the mall's owners, which asks that zoning by-laws in the area be amended to allow the north and west parking lots to be developed into commercial and residential mixed-use space.

In case of any such development, parking will go underground.

The plans outline three possible scenarios for the site over the next 20 years, all of which include the possibility of an eight-storey boutique hotel.

Artist's conception of the Dufferin Street Frontage taken from Urban Space's application for a Yorkdale block master plan on behalf of Oxford Properties and Aimco. (CallisonRTKL)

City staff say the potential development is in line with Yorkdale's growth over the years.

"It's become more of an entertainment destination centre, adding regional draws like the Cheesecake Factory," North York city planning manager Al Rezoski said.

Traffic congestion a major concern

But Coun. Josh Colle, who represents the area, says more infrastructure work needs to be done in the area first.

"Anyone who's tried to navigate that stretch of Dufferin, south of the 401, north of Lawrence, knows how difficult it is to get around, so regardless of what they want to do in 10 or 20 years, I think they need to make transportation upgrades before anything happens on that site," Colle said in an interview.

He wants the site's owners, Alberta Investment Management Corporation and Oxford Properties Group, to foot the bill for changes to the community.

The first of three conceptual options proposes building an eight-storey boutique hotel on Yorkdale's lot. (City of Toronto)

"It's not uncommon for a developer to have to make infrastructure upgrades to ensure their development works in the area."

Colle says Oxford Properties, managers and co-owners of the mall, have already began studying feasible upgrades to reduce traffic congestion in the area, including direct on- and off-ramps to  Highway 401.

He says it's about making sure any changes work for the entire neighbourhood.

The Cheesecake Factory is latest hot brand to come to Yorkdale. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

"Yorkdale is a great employer and that's a good thing. But it long ago ceased to be a local mall, it's more of a regional draw," Colle told CBC Toronto.

"The host community always bears some of the brunt of that because you have people coming from around the GTA to shop there. While we want to see Yorkdale thrive ... we want make sure it's able to function within the existing community." 

He says there are consultations planned and expects the process to take at least one year.