Photo of the RioCan development last April by Miles Storey
According to the Canadian Press, Home Depot (whose slogan, we know, is not “help is close to home”) is “paying an unspecified amount in cash” to back out of their lease to part of RioCan’s controversial development at Queen West and Portland. RioCan has stated that it’s “reviewing the possibility of repositioning the retail portion of the development to reflect a new retail footprint,” which is just a fancy way of saying that they’re gonna find someone or several someones else to pay for and use the space; RioCan’s CEO told the CP that “We are optimistic that we will re-lease this part of the retail component and do not expect construction of the project to be delayed.” The condos that are part of the project are already under construction now, and are, again according to the CP, sixty percent sold.
There’s been no word yet as to why Home Depot is backing out (calls and e-mails to them weren’t quickly returned), but it’s hard not to think that the East East West Queen West community’s sustained outrage—which most recently manifested itself in the totally stupid rumours that Home Depot was somehow responsible for the all–consuming fire just up the street from the development—had some role. Too bad that this latest bit of news means that the only victory for the locals is a hollow one: instead of ma and pa hardware stores getting pushed out of the community, some other ma and pa stores will instead; and instead of having a cheap and expansive hardware shop around the corner to buy lumber and paint from, they’ll continue to have to mold things they find in the trash into other things with their bare hands, because that is what everyone on Queen West does when they need to make stuff.