jane finch mall 1911 finch west

Yet another Toronto mall is now in the crosshairs of developers

Toronto is experiencing something of a mallpocalypse as shopping centres around the city are targeted for redevelopment.

Many shopping centres are just past their prime and ripe for redevelopment, while in other cases, a combination of malls' reduced foot traffic and vast surface parking lots have created a perfect storm for developers looking to give these retail centres a new lease on life.

It's hard to know which of these outcomes is in the works for Toronto's Jane Finch Mall, but it looks like a redevelopment is very much in the future for this retail hub.

A lobbying file appeared on the city's lobbyist registry on Monday, with planning firm Urban Strategies representing Southdown Builders in its bid for a "meeting to provide an update on the process and plan to develop a concept and OPA/ZBA (Official Plan and Zoning by-law amendments) for a site at 1911 Finch Avenue West."

No application has been submitted to city planners just yet, but the lobbying file indicates that a plan to redevelop the mall is already in the works.

And it shouldn't come as a surprise to see the Jane Finch Mall threatened with redevelopment; Its vast surface parking exists to serve suburban infrastructure and lifestyles that are quickly transforming in the area, while its single-storey structure is becoming harder to justify on increasingly valuable land.

The under-construction Finch West LRT's tracks run past the site and the future Line 6 will even have a stop right outside the mall's current location, moving more people in a much more efficient fashion than road and parking infrastructure ever could.

Like any transit project, the new LRT line — due to open in 2023 — is sparking a wave of development, the increased service capacity unlocking lands along the route for higher densities in accordance with provincial and city growth policies.

Even just across the Jane and Finch intersection, a redevelopment proposal is already in play for Yorkgate Mall and the adjacent gas station. Its long-term vision proposes several towers to be built out over ten years or longer, hinting at the type of plan that might soon be tabled for the Jane Finch Mall site.

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