Three years after a plan was first submitted to the city, the redevelopment of the Galleria Mall is now on the verge of transforming the intersection of Dufferin and Dupont streets.
The massive project, called Galleria on the Park, will be built in phases, beginning with a rebuilt community centre and two new mixed-use towers.
“We are now zoned and ready to go, fully designed,” said Drov Duchovny, vice president of marketing, sales and asset management with ELAD Canada, the developer.
“We can start sales, and then once we hit financing thresholds, we can start construction,” he said.
Those initial sales start next month, with Duchovny expecting construction to begin by next summer and take about four years.
By the time the entire project is complete, in about 10 years, the low-slung mall will be razed and replaced with eight mixed-use towers containing almost 3000 condos as well as office and retail space.
Duchovny says ELAD has worked up a plan to make things easier for neighbours bracing for a decade of noise and dust: keeping the mall and the current community centre open until their replacements are ready.
“The mall will never be closed for good. We are creating a temporary mall… where we are moving all the tenants who are remaining,” he said.
2 decades of discussion
That means anchor tenants like FreshCo and Rexall will remain open in a section of the original mall for another five to seven years before making the jump to the new commercial space.
Likewise, the existing Wallace-Emerson Community Centre will remain open until the new centre, set to be double in size, is ready to open — likely in 2023 or 2024.
The 20-acre site, home to the Galleria Mall and a series of large parking lots, has been eyed for redevelopment since the early 2000s.
In 2016, ELAD Canada submitted their plan, which the city and neighbours spent about three years looking over through a series of public consultations.
“The community fought really hard to have a community centre that was double the size. We’re going to have a brand new daycare as well,” said Ana Bailao, city councillor for the area.
“The park and redoing the park was really important, [and] to have some affordable housing was really important.”
In the end, 150 units of affordable housing will be built — a number Bailao wishes could be higher but was “unfortunately” limited by a re-zoning approval several years ago.
The project’s size and height were also reduced over time, changing from 12 towers in the initial proposal to 8 in the final version.
“That means less people, less height and just an overall better development for the area,” said Duchovny.
Changing face of the city
Finally, in June 2018, city council gave the green light.
In its press release, ELAD describes the soon-to-be-built development as a “much-needed vibrant hub in Toronto’s west end,” painting it as a critical component of the “urban renewal” of Dupont West.
“We tried to make sure that we introduced brick and warmer [materials]… to make sure that this doesn’t feel like this is an office tower complex, just displaced,” said Duchovny.
Bailao, who had previously raised concerns about transit and density, said her constituents are both anxious and excited for what the influx of people and amenities could bring.
“What I think people in my community say is: Let’s build housing, but let’s make sure that we have the infrastructure to make sure we have good communities as well,” she said.
The journey has already begun, with stores in the Galleria on the move to the section of the mall that will be kept open during construction.
A public open house will also be held on Sept. 18 to discuss the new park and community centre.