Despite local opposition, the grocery chain is set to open a 20,000-square-foot location in a new condo development.
Kensington Market is fiercely protective of its identity as a unique, eclectic neighbourhood: after residents learned that a new 15-storey condo development approved by city council last year might end up being home to a Loblaws, there were street protests, and warnings about the damage the chain grocer might do to local businesses.
But it’s now a done deal: Tribute Communities, the developer behind the new condo building at 297 College Street slated to open in 2016, has confirmed that Loblaws will be setting up shop in a 20,000-square-foot space on the second floor of the complex.
Steve Deveaux, Tribute’s vice president of land development, suggests that the store will not become a looming corporate presence: “It’s not a big-box store like some people will attempt to categorize it,” he said. “It’s more of a community grocery store.”
But the arrival of the chain will doubtless contribute to fears that the neighbourhood is headed for increased gentrification and corporatization—although plans for a nearby Walmart have been put on hold because of a year-long large-retail freeze instituted by city council, they do not appear to have been scuppered. So with the possibility of a Walmart still on the horizon, many worry the future Loblaws is a sign of big-box things to come.