After more than a century of being synonymous with sofas, mattresses, and major appliances, Leon's Furniture is taking a stab at housing.
Yes, you read that right: Leon’s Furniture Ltd. (LFL) is behind plans to turn a 40-acre Toronto lot off of highways 401 and 400 into a mixed-use community with 4,000 residential units. The forthcoming development will sprawl across 45 and 88‐100 Gordon Mackay Road, and 11 and 35 Suntract Road.
Leon’s housing debut was made public on Monday when the retail giant — it’s currently the largest furniture retailer in the country — revealed in a press release that the Province has approved its request to re-designate the site into a “regeneration area,” (which is defined by the City of Toronto as an area where commercial, residential, and industrial uses can be mixed within the same block or even the same building).
A conversion request from 2022 explains that the 40-acre site was previously zoned for employment uses due to its proximity to other designated employment areas, including Black Creek, which is located directly to the east. The document also says that the lot is currently about 60% vacant. The occupied portion accommodates Leon's national headquarters, a showroom, and a warehouse, as well as a smattering of other office, self-storage, warehouse, wholesale, and retail buildings.
An “approximate outline” of the 40-acre, LFL-owned lot at the intersection of Highway 401 and Highway 400. (LFL Group)
“LFL has been considering options for this land for a number of years,” Michael Walsh, President and CEO of LFL, tells STOREYS. “We are now able to proceed with the secondary plan process that will allow us to work on our master plan with the City of Toronto and the surrounding residents of this community to determine the mix for the types of residential units to be built. As part of that process, we will assess how we will use the available government incentives."
Monday's press release says that the secondary plan process is expected to be completed by mid-2025. The company also says that the project will unfold in phases, with the first phase of development focussed on building a new flagship retail store and replacing the corporate headquarters that’s already on the site. Residential development will be delivered in subsequent phases of the project. At the moment, a mix of mid- and high-rise buildings and townhomes are planned.
“We are still working through who our partners will be,” says Walsh. “On past projects, we have partnered with top-tier developers in each sector and region.”
More broadly, Walsh says that LFL is open to adding more housing-inclusive projects like this one to its portfolio. The company will continue to explore development opportunities “with an eye to highest and best use” for its core retail business and shareholders, and the communities in which these properties are located.