The ubiquity of e-commerce has come at the expense of brick and mortar retail -- a trend that began before the pandemic and has only accelerated since -- but it’s also served as the catalyst for rejuvenation.

In Mississauga at 2225 Erin Mills Pkwy, Sheridan Centre will be redeveloped into Sherwood Village by Dunpar Homes. The project will retain the shopping mall, with which Dunpar intends to attract top-tier retailers, and the Metro grocery store as an anchor tenant, while introducing a residential component. Sheridan has seen better days; it used to have an Eaton’s and a cinema, but today the mall struggles with vacancies.

“Ours will be a 30-acre master-planned development and it will have a mix of high-, mid- and low-rise on the perimeter, and then we’re going to renovate the mall itself,” Harpreet Bassi, VP of finance for Dunpar Homes, told STOREYS. “If you’ve ever seen Dunpar developments, we pride ourselves on landscaping and we’ll landscape the outside and inside of the mall with really big trees, skylights and floral arrangements, so you will feel like you’re outside when you’re inside. It will give you more of a high-end shopping feel. It’s going to be a great opportunity to take something in a great neighbourhood and make it one of the top-tier malls in the region.”

According to Morguard’s Q2-2021 economic outlook, shopping malls with grocery and drug stores, which Sheridan Mall also has, are in demand while their generic counterparts, on the other hand, are often overlooked.

MississaugaSherwood Village (Rendering), Mississauga

“Demand for retail properties with defensive attributes, especially those with grocery, drug store, financial services and liquor store tenants remained relatively stable and positive. Purchasers of properties with largely non-essential and aspirational tenants continued to stand on the sidelines while assessing the impacts of pandemic lockdowns and waiting the return of shoppers to physical stores,” the report said.

The report noted strong investor demand for multifamily buildings, and across the street from Sheridan Mall are five multi-family towers, four of which have been bought and renovated by REITs Starlight Investments and Crestpoint Real Estate Investments. Bassi says the mall, which is a block away from the Queen Elizabeth Expressway in Mississauga, is rich in fundamentals.

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“This is one of the reasons we bought it. The potential is there to really reinvigorate the retail experience to put customers within steps of retail. By doing this master-planned residential community and still having a mall in the middle, the two will feed off each other because retailers do well with consumers right there and consumers have this great amenity within walking distance,” Bassi said. “Metro is moving full-steam ahead to redo their whole store, both the façade and inside, and tailor it into a hybrid model where they can facilitate their online shoppers and people who come into the store. They see how many people we will be bringing to this area and they said, ‘Yeah. This makes so much sense.’”

The residential component is still being finalized but master-planned communities typically integrate north of a thousand new residents. As for the retail outlets, Dunpar is hoping to attract heavy hitters, although Bassi says that will come later.

“Our goal is to bring in higher-tier retailers, however, we have not been aggressively pursuing them, and won’t until we get the mall up to a cosmetic level. We’ll do some of the interior work and then show the community the site plan, then that will, we believe, get retailers much more excited,” he said. “It’s sort of like Field of dreams, ‘Build it and then they will come.’”

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