The Grand Market District
Greetings! Welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog. This past week, we’ve been looking at some of the busiest commercial areas in the entire Waterloo Region: from the St. Jacobs Market District in the north to the Sunrise Shopping Centre in the west, with many in between.
One of the areas we covered (the area around Fairview Park Mall) actually warrants a second look. Over the next few years, we’ll be witnessing the area as it transforms into something exciting and new: the Grand Market District. Let’s take a look!
First and foremost, it should be noted that the future for this part of Kitchener is bright. It will serve as the terminus of the LRT, see an incredible amount of development and investment, and continue to be an attractive place to live, work, and do business.
Changes Already Afoot
Anyone who’s travelled along Fairway Road South over the past few years, particularly the area around its intersection with Wilson Avenue, knows that there has been a substantial amount of development and change here already.
If you’d like to get a sense of this recent transformation but don’t have access to a functioning time machine, you can go to Google Maps and plop the little yellow Google man (officially named ‘Pegman’) onto Street View along Fairway Road South (between Wilson Ave. and Wabanaki Dr.).
You can change the Street View year back as far as 2009, and marvel as Crabby Joe’s vanishes, Farm Boy replaces a row of small plaza shops, and the massive complex that now contains Cineplex Cinemas Kitchener and VIP; Party City; and the brand new Indigo is constructed on what was once open field.
This last segment is, in fact, part of the Cadillac Fairview (Fairview Park Mall’s owners) property, though it is located across the street.
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Changes to Come
As Sears stores across Canada shuttered their doors, many malls were left with massive, empty areas; Fairview Park Mall was one such mall. As it stands, there is ample space on the southeast side of the parking lot, and the vacated Sears Hardware Store across from where the Sears itself once stood.
The plans in place to make use of all this new space is ambitious to say the least; you would not be far off by calling the plans ‘grand.’
All told, Cadillac Fairview (the owner of Fairview Park Mall, as well as the large lots around the mall and on the other side of Fairway Road South, where Cineplex, Indigo, and Party City stand) has plans in place to add 266,615 square feet of retail and office space, and a brand new parking garage with surface, deck, and underground capabilities, and electric charge stations.
Aside from the parking garage, there will be two major additions: a four-storey building in the west, in the old Sears Hardware Store’s location, which will have 65,960 square feet of space; and a five-storey building in the east, nearer to the Conestoga Parkway, which will have 200,655 square feet of space.
The Grand Market District
The two new additions will be quite visually striking. As noted on the Colliers International real estate firm’s website, they will provide “a unique blend of historical and contemporary design” (Colliers Canada). Indeed, the overall Grand Market District will be quite something.
The buildings will feature historic, red brick facades, with distinctive signage on the exterior; and the interiors will include “brick and beam aesthetics,” with “exposed 11 foot ceilings and floor-to ceiling windows” (Colliers Canada). Indeed, these new structures would not look out of place alongside the Lang Tannery in Downtown Kitchener.
It’s not just these two buildings that will stand out, either; the entire surrounding area will be transformed into the Grand Market District, with cobblestone streets, ample seating areas, verdant trees, and tall lights illuminating the whole scene.
One of the main goals is to make this area distinctly pedestrian-friendly; going for a stroll through the Grand Market District will encompass everything from boutique shops, fine dining, street-level cafés, and much more.
Additionally, Cadillac Fairview has plans in place to erect potentially four residential towers on the northwest side of the mall, along Kingsway Drive, though there is little information available on this part of the proposal at this time.
A Central Transit Hub
The other major change that’s taken place over the past few years is the construction of the fancy Fairway stop for the iON Rapid Transit Network (the LRT).
At present, you can see the tracks and lights passing Wilson Avenue, as well as the sleek stop itself, between Leon’s and the southwest end of Fairview Park Mall’s parking lot.
Once the LRT is up and running, Fairway Station will serve as the southern terminus of the iON network. Starting at the northern terminus at Conestoga Mall, the LRT will run from Waterloo, past the university campuses and Uptown Waterloo, through Downtown Kitchener, and finally here to Fairway Station.
In the years to come, there are plans to extend the LRT down to Cambridge, all the way to Ainslie Street Transit Terminal in southern Galt (one of the GRT’s two primary hubs).
So at this point, Fairway Station will no longer be the southern terminus of the LRT. However, it will actually take on a new and arguably more important role: a central point between Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.
At present, there will be ‘iON BRT’ (Bus Rapid Transit) service from Fairway Station to Cambridge, a quick way to get from southern Kitchener-Waterloo to Sportsworld Crossing, Preston, and Galt until the LRT extends further south.
What the Future Holds
There are a few interconnected points to consider here: first, that the Grand Market District will be an incredible place to work, with brand new office space in a beautiful location, with plenty of entertainment and leisure opportunities afterward.
It will also be quite pedestrian friendly (though drivers need not fear – with the additional parking garage, there will be around 3,800 parking spots around the mall).
Secondly, with new residential towers proposed, the population density is poised to rise in the Grand Market District area, and many will choose to call this blossoming part of Kitchener home.
This will be further assisted by the LRT, once it is up and running: at first with Fairway Station as the southern terminus, and then as the central node between Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge.
All this comes together to suggest that the Fairview Area, and the Grand Market District, will come to be a centre of gravity within the Tri-Cities; a sort of intercity Downtown area.
With ample commercial and office space available, guaranteed foot traffic generated by increased residential density, and connectivity via the LRT, there is an incredible opportunity here for businesses, investors, and residents looking to be at the heart of something special.
We’re quite excited about the prospects of the Grand Market District, and we hope to have conveyed some of that excitement to you! If you’d like to know more, or if you’re looking to buy a home in the area (whether as an investor, or for yourself to live in), please don’t hesitate to contact us.
We’d love to be a part of your real estate journey.
Written by Will Kummer