Pension funds plan to transform a swath of parking lots around the Square One mall into a high-density living and working zone

Developers backed by Ontario and Alberta pension funds plan to transform a swath of parking lots around a Mississauga mall into a high-density living and working zone in one of Canada’s largest urban redevelopments, apparently drawn by the booming city next to Toronto.
Oxford Properties Group and Alberta Investment Management Corp. said they will develop “the largest mixed-use downtown development in Canadian history.” There’s no cost estimate on the project, Oxford said Wednesday in an emailed reply to questions.
Toronto-based Oxford has $60 billion in global real estate assets and is the real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) pension fund, while Edmonton-based Alberta Investment Management Corp. controls about $115 billion in assets and is a Crown corporation of the Western province.
The plan to turn underutilized land into offices, apartments and shops will measure 1.67 million square metres, compared with the 929,000 square metres planned for Toronto’s East Harbour, Oxford said. Its plan will house about 35,000 people across some 53 hectares around the Square One Shopping Centre in downtown Mississauga, the companies said.
The developers are betting on the lack of housing in the Greater Toronto area to drive demand where Mississauga, a city of about 722,000 people in 2016, serves as a bedroom commuter city for the wider region, attracting new immigrants with home prices cheaper than the big city next door, and businesses keen for its highways and proximity to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
“The population of downtown Mississauga is expected to double over the next 20 years,” Oxford spokesman Daniel O’Donnell said by email. “That means we need to build more homes for people to live in and provide greater rental options to make renting a long-term option for families.”
Rendering of public gathering space within The Strand.CNW Group/Oxford Properties Group Inc.
Construction by the Daniels Corp. is to start this summer on two residential towers of 36 and 48 storeys, with the full development including office blocks to take place over decades as it ties in with the planned Hurontario Light Rapid Transit system, the developers said.
Mississauga, Canada’s sixth-largest city, according to Statistics Canada, is already backing another large redevelopment, the 72-hectare Lakeview Village where a coal-power generating station used to operate on the Lake Ontario shore.
Rogers Real Estate Development has started building a $1.5-billion project of 10 condo towers a stone’s throw from Square One. The city, Sheridan College and Ryerson University are partnering to create a business innovation hub in the downtown.
More than half of the 18,000 units planned for the Square One development are to be for rent, the developers said. The project will centre on a pedestrian-friendly civic space called The Strand as well as the existing mall, which boasts $500 million in improvements over the past five years including an expanded restaurant and bar area, the builders said.
Condominiums are to go on sale this spring when Oxford will also begin marketing office space, it said. The developer will use its experience building zero-carbon office towers to make Square One’s sustainable, it said.
“With the Hurontario LRT being built and a transit mobility-hub a key part of our plans, it gives us the opportunity to create a transit-connected and walkable downtown for Mississauga,” O’Donnell said. “The entire development will be anchored by Square One Shopping Centre, which is one of the best performing malls in North America.”
Email: cmcclelland@postmedia.com