SmartCentres REIT Proposes Transformation at South Hill in Richmond Hill
The Greater Toronto Area is transforming at a tremendous rate, with about a hundred thousand people looking for new homes in the area every year. Over the last few years, SmartCentres Real Estate Investment Trust, one of Canada’s largest fully integrated REITs with approximately $10 billion in assets, has become a leader in the intensification of under-utilized land into much-needed housing and new communities across the country, their work in the heart of Vaughan a well-known example of city-building that the company is engaging in.
Acting on behalf of the property owners, SmartCentres REIT is preparing a gradual transformation of the lands of the South Hill Shopping Centre in the heart of Richmond Hill. SmartCentres currently manages the property on Yonge Street at 16th Avenue and has been engaged to lead the development application and approvals process. Located in an area considered by the City of Richmond Hill to be an essential growth node along the Yonge Street Regional Transit Corridor, it is SmartCentres’ intention to “set the standard for the future of Richmond Hill’s Key Development Area” here.
Context map indicating the Phase 1 site, with current and potential transport options highlighted, image courtesy of SmartCentres REIT
At South Hill, SmartCentres is master planning the site for the future; while it is easily accessible from Highway 404 and the 407, the site is being designed as a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use, transit-oriented development, with potential for future rapid transit access. York Region Transit inaugurated a new VIVA Rapidway along this stretch of Yonge Street in December, bringing dedicated bus lanes and faster service to the area, effectively bringing Finch subway station closer. When the future extension of the Yonge subway to Richmond Hill Town Centre opens, rides to the downtown core will get that much faster again.
With over a dozen retailers operating within the shopping centre, SmartCentres identified part of the property for a first phase transformation to a more urban form. Growing from a five-storey podium, towers would rise to 42 and 45 storeys tall. While it is early enough in the process that a final design is still to be reached, the massing concept by Sweeny &Co Architects has the towers offset from each other so that residents’ access to sunlight and views will be maximized.
Looking northeast to South Hill, Phase 1, image provided by SmartCentres REIT
Retail will be incorporated into the ground floor of the podium of Phase 1, while amenities for the residents will be provided on the fifth floor, both indoors and atop the podium to take advantage of a landscaped rooftop terrace.
As detailed planning continues, SmartCentres is anticipating approvals for Phase 1 in 2022 with a construction start in 2023.
Looking north along Yonge Street beside South Hill, image provided by SmartCentres REIT
Phase 1 is the beginning of a long-term master-planned redevelopment of the shopping centre that aims to provide a mix of uses including diversified residential and retail, all benefiting from connectivity–both in terms of walkability and transit—with SmartCentres looking to create an inviting community and enhance the lives of those who live there.
Looking southeast across Yonge Street to South Hill, Phase 1, image provided by SmartCentres REIT