Neighbourhoods as Vibrant Places and Spaces

Across North America, the retail landscape is rapidly changing and many community and regional shopping centres are reverting back to a selfsustaining community hub model. Meanwhile, the neighbourhood concept is seeing a resurgence as new generations of residents look for places to live, work, and raise families while remaining connected to their local community. These trends are driving the transformation of places across the country, and investment in true live, work, shop and play destinations.

Likewise, today’s retail redevelopment model is shifting and with it, creating new paradigms that include a variety of non traditional retail, destination entertainment, fitness centres, offices, restaurants, and residential buildings. This trend towards mixed-use development is well established across North America with increasing land prices, transportation challenges, construction and infrastructure costs being its key drivers. Municipalities across Canada
including Ottawa, whose Official Plan targets intensification as the primary growth strategy, have embraced and welcome this new approach to development.

Local examples of density-driven retail redevelopment include RioCan’s Westgate, Lincoln Fields, and Elmvale Acres Shopping Centres, all currently undergoing a mixed use development transformation.

Each of these sites benefits from the history of the community that has grown up around them. Situationally linked to well established transit and infrastructure, these properties were some of the original “transit-oriented” development nodes in Ottawa. Ironically, these sites often contain vast “pavement parks” – large developable areas available to be claimed back from mid-century designed parking and landscape areas that are no longer sought by the market.

So what is the future of shopping centres? For those like Carlingwood that have the benefit of a rich history within their community, a community with the potential to attract the next generation of resident looking for a modern neighbourhood to call home, the future looks good.

We are true believers that urban re-development – specifically mixed-use developments, when done correctly, is the catalyst for creating vibrant communities and neighbourhoods.