The biggest mixed-use downtown project in the entire history of Canada has been unveiled by AIMCo and Oxford Properties Group. It’s a 130-acre Square One District that would be located in Mississauga!
Square One District
The project would be named Square One District, after the already-existing shopping centre, which it will be anchored to. Square One District will have more than 18,000 residential units, which will be more than half purpose-built rentals.
According to the head of North America and executive vice-president of Oxford, Eric Plesman, “As one of the largest development projects in Canadian history, Square One District is unparalleled in its scale and ambition… The multi-billion-dollar investment’s goal is to create a true downtown for Mississauga.”
Components of Square One District
The underutilized land, which is mainly comprised of parking lots, will soon become a place where there will be a whole mobility hub, affixed to the Hurontario Light Rail Transit Line (LRT). The project is currently set to be completed in the fall of 2024, and will feature components such as green spaces, parks, community buildings, additional retail space, and even a new office space.
Plesman said that major demolition is not necessary, for the new development to have room. The LRT and other forms of transit will help to minimize the amount of parking space needed.
Plesman explained: “A lot of it will be improving existing lands and putting some parking below ground, as we may need.”
AIMco and Oxford own Square One District in a 50-50 partnership. It is surrounded by City Centre Drive, Highway 403, Burnhamthorpe Road, and Confederation Parkway. The project will have multiple phases, with Hariri Pontarini Architects as the master-plan architect of the operation.
The Partner in Housing Towers
The Daniels Corporation has been chosen by AIMCo and Oxford to partner with them in order to develop the first phase of housing. Daniels Corporation will be building the 36-storey high-rise structure, which will feature 402 rental apartments at Rathburn Road. They will also be building a 48-storey tower, which will have 575 condominium suites at Confederation Parkway. Both of these structures together will equal no less than 840,000 sq.ft. of residential space.
Mason Studio will be overseeing design, and the landscape architect would be DTAH, while the architect would be the IBI Group.
Niall Haggart, the executive vice-president of Daniels, said, “Fifteen years ago, we established our vision to develop a 23-acre master-planned community right here in the heart of Mississauga’s downtown core… We knew then that we were creating a foundation of an urban neighbourhood that would grow to become the most desirable location in the city.”
He further added, “With close to 4,000 residential units complete or under construction, Daniels has clearly been a dominant force in helping to bring Mississauga’s city centre to life.”
The Residential Buildings
The suite mix of condominiums that would be built at Square One District will have units as big as 844 sq.ft 2-bedroom units, and units as small 444 sq.ft. studios. As of this writing, the companies have not yet announced any prices for these units.
The property will have more or less 8,400 sq.ft of retail, overall, and will have amenities such as community urban gardening plots, a garden preparation studio, a full-court gym, a lounge, a catering kitchen, and a co-working zone, as well as media and dining studios.
On the other hand, the purpose-built rental building will also have units ranging from 408 sq.ft. studios to 1,121 sq.ft. 3-bedroom units. It will have amenities such as a co-working zone, a fitness centre, a garden preparation studio, a lounge, an indoor/outdoor kids zone, and even dining studios.
Urgent Need For Rental Housing of Mississauga
According to Plesman, “Population growth has already far exceeded the building of new housing, and particularly rental options… The rental apartment vacancy rate is exceptionally tight, at just 1.5 percent.”
Bonnie Crombie, the mayor of Mississauga, said, “We can no longer ignore the housing crisis sweeping the GTA... This is an issue that requires governments and developers to work together.”
She further explained: “It’s my hope that, in addressing the low vacancy rates, we can help stabilize rental rates right across the region. Affordability is the key to building a vibrant, diverse and world-class city.”
Plesman has said that their company is working hand-in-hand with the Mississauga government to achieve their goals.
He explained: “We’re focused on ensuring that supply is addressed. As we address the supply issue that we have there, that will naturally provide more affordability for those that are in the marketplace.”
In April 2020, sales of the first tower will begin, and people can start occupying the property in 2024. For those who are interested in renting a unit, marketing will start in 2023.
Construction is set to begin in the summer of 2020. Plesman says that he expects the residents of the area to be accepting of the project; the nearby condominiums that are being developed nearby were able to sell faster than anticipated, and people are well-subscribed with the rentals in the area.
Over the next five-to-seven years, an additional 5,000 residential units (more or less) will be launched. The first step of the construction will be providing 3,500 people with jobs. And in the next five years, the project will create yet another 6,500 jobs. All throughout the span of the project, there will be around 35,000 jobs created.
The Heart of the Project
The Strand, a pedestrian-friendly civic space, will be found at the very centre of Square One District, and will house the transit hub, cafes, bars, restaurants, and a community park!
Plesman said, “Our goal is for The Strand to become the focal point for people living, working and visiting downtown Mississauga… It will bring all of the elements of Square One District together.”
The Office Component
AIMCo and Oxford also keenly understand the importance of a good work and life balance. To this end, the Square One District will have an office space which turns it into a mixed-use project. Brand new office towers will serve as Mississauga’s first major commercial development in a long time.
The first office tower is set to be marketed to potential clients in the spring of 2020.
“The master plan contemplates three million square feet of office space,” said Plesman.
However, the exact number of retail and office installations has not yet been discussed. Ultimately, the market conditions will decide how many spaces will be built.
Growth in the Future
With its number of residents sitting at more or less 800,000, Mississauga has been able to become Canada’s 6th-largest city; and by 2041, the city is expected to have more than 920,000 residents and 565,000 available jobs.
It’s also expected that, in 20 years, the number of buildings in Mississauga’s downtown will have doubled, along with its population of 30,000. At least 24,000 of the city’s residents work downtown; and this is why the addition of more office space will attract more people to invest into and further the economic development.
Crombie has said that, in preparation for new developments, they’re currently making efforts in upgrading Mississauga’s downtown infrastructure. The city definitely needs this - especially with the Hurontario LRT and Square One District, the greatest investment in the city’s entire history, looming on the horizon.
Plesman said, “This is a multi-decade project, so my expectation is that there will be some infrastructure improvements over time… But they’ve been very proactive in addressing what they see is the need, so I think we’re in good shape.”
What do you think of AIMCo and Oxford’s project? Do you think the city of Mississauga will benefit from the project? Will the residents of the city be able to enjoy having the project in their city?
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