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This Shopping Centre Could Be Coming to Kensington Market

What you see in these pictures could become reality on Bathurst Street, if developers get their way.


Lost in the shuffle last week was some news about something that has been fraying nerves in Kensington Market for about two years: the prospect of a 12,000-square-metre shopping centre, right on the neighbourhood’s western border.

The mini mall—proposed for a plot of land that centres on the former location of Kromer Radio, at 420 Bathurst Street—is a project of Riotrin, which is a holding company majority-owned by RioCan, a huge commercial developer with properties all over the country.

The mall plan faced a setback last May, when Riotrin’s application was rejected by the City’s committee of adjustment. Now, after losing an appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board, Riotrin is doing what it probably should have done in the first place. It’s applying for a zoning amendment, which means its plans now have to be approved by city council. (The committee of adjustment is made up of residents, so Riotrin’s decision to apply there first was probably a bid to avoid a huge political fight.)

The immediate upshot of all of this is that drawings of the proposed building are now freely available online. The top image, above, is taken from a City staff report that will be considered by the Toronto and East York community council next week. The bottom image is taken from the website of Turner Fleischer Architects, who are designing the building. (Click here to see a larger version of the top image.)

Some Kensington Market residents and merchants fear that the presence of big retail—especially if it includes a supermarket—will damage the neighbourhood by driving all of its small grocers out of business. Another big retail development is already underway on College Street, just north of the market.


  • JP

    I don’t know. I don’t want Kensington to lose it’s character, but Kromer Radio is really not in Kensington Market, and once you hit Bathurst/Western Hospital the area feels completely distinct from Kensington.

    I think people go out of their way to live/shop in Kensington (if the area floats their boat). I don’t think a big retail place on Bathurst or College is really going to change that.

  • Dinah Might

    I’ve been hoping that a SIGN superstore would be opening near me! They always have the best products and consumables!

    • Eric S. Smith

      SIGN has all of my favourite brands.

    • Brent

      I am partial to Signage myself. They must be keeping their options open.

    • Orson Sedmina

      You saw the sign? What did it do to your mind?

    • dsmithhfx

      I love how they gussied up the shoebox with big, yellow planks. Betcha that’s down for an award!

  • OgtheDim

    Although I know for a fact people like me will go to Kensington for certain things, I highly doubt I’m going to go to that part of Bathurst for a Loblaws experience, or any other mall like store – its just too darn out of the way.

    Whatever stores go in that mall are not going to be as well placed to succeed as a Dufferin mall store. I would compare such a development to Gerrard Square.

    Kensington will be fine.

    • Brent

      It’s funny that you mention Gerrard Square. That’s what came immediately to my mind when I saw the rendering.

      • name

        Haha it looks nothing like Gerrard Square!
        It certainly, in these pictures, is a lot prettier than Kromer though.

  • DavidPylyp

    Good! a welcome addition to the streetscape and the neighbourhood!.

    Worthwhile improvement for west Toronto and near the hospital will provide some respite.

  • Lisa Currie

    Hmm, well I no longer live downtown thus would not be directly affected by these changes. I will say this however; we should ALWAYS arm ourselves when these issues arise and/or take action. Inaction on the part of individuals is how we allow small cracks in the fabric of our lives and our standards begin to slip. Look to history for verification. The market may not suffer (St Lawrence is still alive and thriving after the Metro opened up across from it years ago), we have begun to shift back to niche stores and suppliers for a lot of our food goods. It is a serious toss up, on the once hand a new retail development creates much needed jobs for residents of Toronto, which generates revenue for the neighbourhood, at the expense of the neighbourhood landscape being altered. JP and I share the same thoughts

  • dm

    While development of the surrounding area certainly raises some concerns (including the commercial/condo building on College), the question is what is the alternative? Both those areas could benefit from development (the college lot was especially run down, the Kromer space is a parking lot) and prohibiting commercial means that it is either the status quo or just pure condos along those commercial streetfronts. I love kensington but ultimately it has to survive on its merits to some extent – it can’t be protected to the extreme of leaving all the surrounding streets decrepit and barren. Definitely hope the development of the Kromer space will be managed to restrict big-boxes though.

  • Orson Sedmina

    New name for the neighbourhood: “Little Suburbia”

  • Orson Sedmina

    All the glitz and glamour of Square One, right next to a Beer Store? I’m so glad I bought into a semi below College!

    • Orson Sedmina

      But where do the storage containers and open-air produce markets fit into this ‘design’?

      • nevilleross

        No place at all. That’s why it needs to be opposed.

        • Orson Sedmina

          I was kidding

          • nevilleross


  • Mark Jull

    The “east elevation” (aka what faces the street) is awful. As JP said, it’s past a hard border, but this plan.. that’s *not* what to do for the street.

  • iSkyscraper

    Looks like a solid urban development. Nothing wrong with any building that makes good use of the sidewalk and avoids surface parking.

    • gg

      This is a particularly hideous design that doesn’t seem to even attempt to match the older brick style of the neighbourhood.

      To build a good neighbourhood and walkable space, there needs to many smaller store fronts. If they want big stores, fine, but put them on the second floor like the Loblaws at Queen/Portland.

  • Chris!

    Ha! I’ll admit it makes for a better headline, but in what universe is Bathurst and College considered part of Kensington Market? This is the kind of misleading neighbourhood extrapolation that’s normally reserved for real estate agents. (“Upper Beaches,” anyone?)

    Regardless, the actual Kensington Market will be fine. As long as the produce is cheap and plentiful and quality shops like Hooked and Sanagans keep moving in, there will always be a market.

    • Orson Sedmina

      Yeah, I just can’t get enough of the over-priced yupster snobbery. Screw the stores that have been there for generations!

      • Chris!

        What, you mean Kromer Radio? Or did you COMPLETELY fail to grasp the point of my post?

        • Orson Sedmina

          Nope, you failed to grasp mine. Or forgot what you wrote yourself. You want ‘quality shops’ to keep moving in. I see raising rents, money grubbing landlords and real estate agents lining their pockets, and raising the cost of living in general in what has been a haven for the lower-middle class and immigrant communities. I wasn’t talking about Bathurst St. or Kromer, I was talking about the yupster dream that is shredding neighbourhoods all over the city.

  • Leigh

    ARE YOU FUCKIGN SERIOUS!!!! this shit pisses me off they need to leave the market alone and leave it the way it has stayed

  • Melissa Fong @internationalMF

    I wouldn’t call this opening IN Kensington but it certainly encroaches close upon the territory. I’d be most concerned about a cheaper grocery like no frills taking up the lot and being in direct price competition w/ kensington, chinatown and koreatown.

    really depends on the kind of retail and at what price point they plan for the place.

  • piment

    What a crap thing. Why would anyone want that near them?

  • karl

    Since when would 420 Bathurst Street be considered “in Kensington Market”? Should all commercial activity within one mile radius of Kensington Market be restricted?

  • Darwin

    Another generic big box just like the ones they’re building down on Queen Street West and on The Danforth. Whatever happened to our Main Streets? What is this building doing for the surrounding neighbourhood, streetscape, community? I can’t stand watching the scale of smaller shops and buildings with character be lost to block-sized privatized mini-malls.

  • anon

    420 Bathurst is not Kensington Market. It is a desolate strip with a low rise warehouse and parking lots that adds no value to a busy downtown avenue. There is already a large shopping mall with food service and discount stores at Spadina and Dundas, and it hasn’t damaged the market. Smarter, more local, development might be the answer, but simply opposing development of retail here isn’t.