From Open File Ottawa on June28 2012;
St. Laurent mall's expansion stalled indefinitely
Were it not for its $2 cinema, St. Laurent Shopping Centre might be like any of Ottawa’s malls: it has a Sears and a Bay, a Subway, and a Manchu Wok, among dozens of other stores.
If plans to expand the mall, originally proposed in 2010, get underway, St. Laurent would rack up further distinctions. It would become the largest mall in Ottawa, and one of the 10 largest in Canada.
The Ottawa Sun first reported that story in November 2010, and noted that the proposal included increasing the leasable area from the current 82,500 square metres to 170,000 square metres, more than doubling the size of the mall. The plan also included zoning changes to allow for an office tower up to 20 storeys to be built on the land owned by Morguard Investments, according to the Sun report.
St. Laurent would grow to the west, expanding into land across Coventry Road on both the north and south sides of where the street currently runs, though the expansion plan also involves rerouting the street. The full report to the city's planning and environment committee (since shortened to planning committee) is available here.
But in the 17 months since the proposal was approved, not much has happened. City spokesperson Jocelyne Turner confirmed that the plans are stalled.
“New zoning for the shopping centre’s lands was approved by the former City Council,” she writes in an email. “To date, the company has not submitted a site-plan application.”
Tenants in the mall—in particular, the mall’s west end, where the expansion is focused and which includes Sears, Toys R’ Us, Bluenotes, and West 49—hadn’t heard anything about the start of construction. Nobody at Morguard was available to respond to numerous calls, messages and emails.
The silence from the mall’s ownership says something, at least according to Rideau-Rockcliffe councillor Peter Clark. He suggests that the mall’s management is staying quiet simply because they have nothing new to say.
Clark offered a few updates on the situation, however.
“They have acquired a piece of property across the road from them and they’re thinking about rearranging the road system so that they can do an expansion, but I don’t believe they’ve found the major tenants they’re looking for, so there’s no proposals at the moment,” he says.
He’s referring to rerouting Coventry Road, which currently bends north to skirt around the mall. The city conducted a traffic study as part of the initial review and, according to the Ottawa Sun’s report, “indicated that modifications to signals can handle the volume on the existing roads.”
Clark says that his constituents haven’t voiced any concerns about the potential construction along Coventry Road.
“There’s industrial [zoning] on both sides of it,” he says. “And it doesn’t directly impact any residential areas.”
So without objection from the city or residents, the delay in the mall’s expansion is, according to Clark, self-imposed.
“It’s their choice,” he concludes.
As the commenter "Chris B"pointed out, there is a lot of retail expansions in the books
Proposed retail expansions in the city are: Rideau Centre, Bayshore, St. Laurent, Trainyards, Tanger and Lansdowne. That is a lot of new retail/tenants
Other factors may include the feds selecting their own sites to build new office space (referring to the 20 story office tower proposed for the St-Laurent expansion) and the impending/current mass layoffs. Furthermore, Morguard already has a lot of OT money tied up in 150 Elgin, that has yet to find any major tenants.
I'm hoping that the Rideau Centre will still announce/start construction on their own major expansion sometime this fall/spring 2013. They have everything going for them in contrast with the other retail projects;
-Shiny new Convention Centre
-Demand for a large new Hotel that could be built into the expansion
-Other hotels to be built in proximity (Re, Germain x 2)
-Hundreds of new condos built near it every year
-Prospect of a new subway station within 5/6 years...