Published in Bisnow Real Estate Toronto, March 27, 2014
More than 30 years ago, the people who run Remington Group bought over 240 acres of farmland in Markham and set out planning a dream. (They had to chase away all those stubborn cows first.)
That dream has changed a few times over the years, reflecting how the demographics of Markham have changed. Markham is established, affluent, and expanding (one of the fastest-growing regions in the GTA) with the fourth-largest concentration of offices in Canada, Remington's Evelynn Ratcliffe tells us.
Remington is well into the development of a new downtown just north of Highway 407, which was in the news again last with the announcement that Aviva would be basing its head offices in a new 350k SF office tower on the site. Snapped are the people who took part in the ground-breaking for the Aviva project: councillors Logan Kanapathi, Colin Campbell, Don Hamilton and Alex Chiu, regional councilor Gordon Langdon, Mayor Frank Scarpitti, Aviva's Greg Somerville, and Remington's Chris Bratty, Rudy Bratty, Mark Bratty, Wayne Chan and Jerry Bratty. (All of them have scissors; that ribbon didn't stand a chance.)
Bisnow drove up and took a tour. The objective is to build a downtown well-connected to local transit and GO Train access that will keep more people—especially younger people—living in Markham. All the amenities you need are within a five-minute walking radius of where we are standing at Birchmount and Enterprise. (Including some gigantic shoes if you need them.) Art is very much a theme—plenty of work/live-zoned development to encourage artists to open galleries where they live, a fine art carousel featuring the work of Patrick Amiot (image), children's art park, an outdoor museum, and street art walls—including 900SF on the east wall of where the Cineplex theatre will be. Street artists will show off their work on a rotating basis. “Cool edge” is how Evelynn describes what it will bring.
“We want to give people outside the 416 a downtown to call their own,” she says. The residential component of the project is underway—there are 50,000 new residents planned for Markham Centre, 15,000 of them will live where we are touring. This fall the Cineplex opens (snapped is where construction is today), as well as retail and restaurants.
The Aviva tower opens in 2017. Overall, when it's done, the $4B development will encapsulate 3.4M SF of office space, 2M SF of retail and dining, a 200-room luxury Marriott hotel, an urban park, and 5,000-plus parking spaces, among the other amenities.