Corp Comm Connects

Lack of agreement stalls Markham retail hub’s redevelopment
Feb. 17, 2016
By Amanda Persico

Redevelopment of a major retail destination in Markham appears to have stalled over a lack of agreement over parking, roadways and connections between shopping centres, a city committee heard this week.

The fact the project borders the City of Toronto also means additional approvals are needed.

Plans to rebuild Pacific Mall and Market Village at Steeles Avenue and Kennedy Road have been bogged down because of the multitude of property owners who have a say over the plans, councillors heard this week.

However the mayor argued there are no fundamental changes being made. The plan is to still have one integrated site. He said parking and roadways are minor variances that can be worked out and urged the parties to work together.

Once all is said and done, Market Village is supposed to become the Remington Centre - a slick, modern shopping centre, featuring a fusion of more than 1,200 high-end Western and Asian retailers.

In the same parcel of land are Pacific Mall and the smaller Kennedy Corners.

“Landowners need to start to work together in earnest,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti said. “There’s been a long history of success at this corner. Let’s build on that success. Any delay only hurts us all.”

Council endorsed the initial plan in 2011.

Since then it’s been a series of “fits and starts”, Randy Pettigrew of the Remington Group said.

“There have been a series of meetings, we all leave on the same page,” Pettigrew said. “Then, nothing happens.”

The idea is for all three locations to function as one shopping destination, Pettigrew said.

“The average customer will not know there are different owners,” he said.

But plans are a standstill when it comes to parking and existing roadways on the property as well as the idea of adding a pedestrian connection between the buildings.

Currently, there is no indoor connection between Pacific Mall and Market Village.

“This should be a requirement,” said deputy mayor and Regional Councillor Jack Heath. “No one wants to walk through the slush in the winter time to get to the other building.”

Plans for the new Remington Centre include more than 3,400 parking spaces, the majority underground. Remington’s plans also include a pedestrian link between the buildings at one of the underground levels.

Since any reconfiguration goes contrary to existing agreements in place with Pacific Mall, approval from a majority of owners is required to make changes, the mall says.

Said Pettigrew: “We’ve gone as far as we can go. Other parties need to come to the table.”

The second phase of the project is a residential condo building. That is on the backburner until the retail portion is sorted out.

In a letter, mall solicitor Mary Flynn-Guglietti called plans for the Remington Centre premature, saying any change to parking or roadways cannot be done without consent from Pacific Mall owners.

Individual retail owners make up between 30 and 40 per cent of Pacific Mall’s ownership, she noted.

Another design element is the inclusion of a bus terminal on site for YRT and TTC.

Plans also include an urban square with a water feature that can host cultural events such as the annual Taste of Asia.

But those plans are subject to an environmental assessment for Steeles Avenue currently underway by the City of Toronto.

The study is looking at transit designs for both sides of Steeles. A report is expected within six months.