Home Depot bows out of bid for new location at Queen and Portland
Big-box retailer Home Depot has cancelled its long-held dream of a downtown store - to the delight of some local critics - but talks are already under way for other tenants for the mixed-use development at Queen and Portland streets.
"We determined it was not the right time for us to open," Home Depot manager of public relations Tiziana Baccega said yesterday. "We would have loved to have been there."
Despite Home Depot's pullout, developer RioCan Real Estate Investment is confident construction is on track for a project that features a five-storey residential component over three storeys of retail.
"We should still be able to start by late spring, pending the finalization of leasing we are working on," said Fred Waks, chief operating officer of RioCan, the largest real-estate investment trust in Canada.
"We are very pleasantly surprised as to the amount of interest we have on the site," he said. "There is not a national grocery store that has not contacted us in the last 24 hours."
He confirmed that Home Depot paid $11.5-million to terminate its lease for 75,000 square feet of space.
RioCan already has tenants for about 16,000 square feet, with a major grocery store and other retailers as candidates for the former Home Depot space. Mr. Waks expects to wrap up negotiations with new retail tenants in two to three months.
Tribute Communities, RioCan's partner for the 90-unit condominium, has sold 55 units (or 61 per cent of the project).
An early critic of Home Depot's plans for a downtown spot said yesterday she is "relieved" that a suburban-style home improvement centre is no longer in the works.
"It was the wrong end-user for that neighbourhood," said Kristyn Wong-Tam, who owns XEXE Gallery on nearby Richmond Street and lives in the area. She hopes RioCan will seek out smaller-scale retailers, including a food store and boutique-style tenants.
Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina), worried about the chilling effects of the downturn, said "construction isn't halted and that is the most critical thing for that stretch of Queen Street."