Monday, 25 November 2013

Preview: What could Westbank have in mind for Honest Ed's?

As reported recently, real estate developer Westbank has secured the Honest Ed's site at Bloor and Bathurst. The developer is a new entrant into Toronto's hot real estate market. Their first property was the luxurious 700 foot tall Shangri-La Hotel on University Avenue. But what could Westbank have in store for the iconic Honest Ed's?

Toronto's Shangri-La Hotel

Westbank was established in 1992 and has over $10 billion in either completed or developed projects, primarily in Western Canada. Its projects include condominiums, commercial real estate, and retail (where the company's roots lay, as it started off developing shopping centres). It is widely considered to be a high end development company.

One of the most interesting retail related projects that Westbank has undertaken was the redevelopment of Vancouver's flagship Woodward's department store site. The now defunct Woodward's chain was a mainstay of retail life in British Columbia until it folded in 1993. The Woodward's building in the Downtown Eastside was a local landmark but fell into disrepair and was abandoned after the company's closure.

Vancouver Woodward's
Westbank was selected to redevelop the Woodward's site. The end result (which included demolishing most of the Woodward's building) was over one million square feet of mixed-use development including residential, institutional, and retail space. Also included were apartment units at below market rates that aimed to create an inclusive development.

Part of the Woodward's project included retaining the retailer's iconic W sign. Perhaps when it comes time for Westbank to put their stamp on their Honest Ed's redevelopment, they might incorporate some of the retailer's own iconic signage.