An attractive big-box centre—the unicorn of developments—could be coming to Leaside

An attractive big-box centre—the unicorn of developments—could be coming to Leaside

(Image: Walmart) 

First it was Kensington Market that was spooked by big-box talk; now Leaside residents are gripped with fear that Walmart is moving into the neighbourhood. A SmartCentre development is slated for the plot of land on Wicksteed Avenue near Laird Avenue that’s been vacant since Canada Wire packed up about two decades ago. And, because it fronts a major street, the spot fits the bill for a large-scale retail redevelopment, according to the City of Toronto’s official plan. But local residents worry, as residents do, that the current plan for 147,000 square feet of shopping space plus nearly 500 parking spots is just too big, and will result in traffic spreading through the area “like a germ.” The SmartCentre people brushed off that rather gross simile, brandishing the results of a traffic study that says the impact will only be felt during rush hour. The big-box developer also insists the finished project will look pretty, thanks to plans by architect Donald Schmitt that depict a porous structure of red brick and back-lit glass with a wide public plaza. A good-looking big-box development? We’ll believe it when we see it. [Globe and Mail]