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  1. #1
  2. Going Big - Area's largest retail site coming to Ira Needles Boulevard near landfill
    By Greg MacDonald | Waterloo Chronicle | Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    A million-square-foot development will straddle the borders of Kitchener and Waterloo on Ira Needles Boulevard, making it the largest commercial centre in the twin cities.

    The plan for the site includes about 30 buildings that will house retail stores, business offices and a movie theatre.

    About half of the footage will be in Kitchener and half in Waterloo.

    "This is a new type of commercial development, it's not purely retail. It's being proposed as a mixed use," he said.

    This is a new trend in Ontario, where instead of building traditional strip malls or shopping centres, development is centred around a mix of business and retail space, said Ryan Mounsey, a development planner with the city.

    "It's sort of combined traditional power centres with urban planning," he said, adding that there's no real large anchor stores but the development itself will be the destination.

    The only similar type of commercial centre in the region is the Sportsworld crossing in Kitchener, Mounsey said.

    The development application was presented to city council earlier this month and will provide a destination for the city's under-serviced west end, said consultant Paul Britton, with MHBC planning.

    The site will be designed in a grid pattern, with a central street connecting the various areas.

    Stores will be grouped based on similarities or complementary services, and will be broken up into sections.

    The development will also feature significant landscaping and three entrances from Ira Needles.

    That means there could be significant traffic concerns for the neighbouring communities, Mounsey said.

    Traffic is only one issue the city will be looking at in the application process. They will also have to consider whether the development "fits in" with the west-side neighbourhoods.

    But the city needs to expand its view when it comes to Ira Needles Boulevard, said Deb Swidrovich, who lives on the Wilmot Line.

    "The net is cast large enough when you look at traffic studies," she said.

    The intersection of Ira Needles Boulevard and Erb Street is already packed at rush hour, she said.

    Adding a large development such as this one, as well as a 35,000-square-foot grocery store and another commercial centre abutting the roundabout will encourage people to use the Wilmot line as a way out of town.

    City council has rejected any move to pave the line, which is surrounded by environmentally sensitive land.

    Swidrovich believes that the amount of development on the west end will encourage residents of rural communities to come into the city.

    "This will be the shopping centre for the area," she said. "People will come in from Heidelberg, Wellesley, Baden, St. Agatha and areas like that."

    And the Wilmot Line will be the road they use to get to the centre, she said.

    The city and the developer will work on the details for the next few months, while the process will go on concurrently in Kitchener, Mounsey said.

    Once technical plans are firmed up, the issue will head to both city councils.


    Retailing giant may anchor two-city project
    By Rose Simone | THE RECORD | Tuesday, September 30, 2008
    WATERLOO REGION

    A Lowe's home improvement store is expected to anchor the biggest retail and office development in Waterloo Region, proposed for a huge property straddling the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo along Ira Needles Boulevard.

    INC Corp., which stands for Ira Needles Commercial Corp., wants to develop 1.1 million square feet of building space into stores, offices, gyms, movie theatres, restaurants and services such as hairdressers and coffee shops.

    City of Waterloo planner Ryan Mounsey said it would be the largest such development in the region.

    The 35.8-hectares property straddles Ira Needles where it is met by University Avenue. Half the land is on one side, in Waterloo and the other half is in Kitchener.

    The land is also bound by the CN tracks in Kitchener, the Westhill Meadows golf course in Waterloo and the Waterloo Region landfill site.

    By the time it is finished in four to five years, the project would involve an investment of about $100 million, said Greg Voisin, a principal in INC Corp. along with Paul Dietrich and Geoff Moore.

    The complex could hold as many as 3,500 employees and generate about $500,000 a month in taxes for the communities, Voisin added.

    The developers are hoping Lowe's will be an anchor tenant if all permissions for the plan are obtained.

    Lowe's opened three Canadian stores last year in South Brampton, Brantford and Hamilton and is expanding its Canadian presence.

    The North Carolina-based retailer does not comment on particular sites until the real estate process is complete, Lowe's spokesperson Maureen Rich said.

    Besides Lowe's, there is a lot of interest from other potential tenants, said Voisin, who has also been involved in the Sunrise shopping centre development in Kitchener.

    "In fact, we have had offers from two banks, seven restaurants, two athletic clubs, two theatres and about seven or eight other large retailers."

    Despite the economic slowdown and turmoil in the markets, the developers are confident tenants will come. Voisin said most of the existing vacant properties in that part of the region are either too small, in the wrong place or not properly zoned for retail and commercial development.

    About 25 per cent of the building space in this complex would be devoted to offices and even, possibly, research companies, said Paul Britton, a partner with MHBC, the Kitchener planning firm working with the developers.

    Britton said there will also be roundabouts and a transit terminal on the site, with access to regional bus service and the potential GO Transit service. He said it will be similar in many respects to the Sportsworld Crossing development on the former Sportsworld site, which also mixes high-end retail with offices, entertainment and transportation services.

    The Ira Needles project is compatible with the push for more mixed-use developments that would cut down on the amount of driving that people do.

    "You can go to work, to the gym, to a restaurant for lunch or in the evening and go to a show if you want," Voisin said


    Councillor wants traffic plan for large retail development
    By Liz Monteiro | THE RECORD | Friday, October 11, 2008
    WATERLOO

    Waterloo Region's biggest retail and office development, planned for a site along Ira Needles Boulevard, will be chaotic when it comes to traffic, Waterloo Coun. Karen Scian says.

    Scian says she's particularly concerned with pedestrians and how they will get around in the busy retail areas of the city's westside.

    She voiced her concerns this week at a meeting where there was discussion about a smaller development proposed at Ira Needles Boulevard and Erb Street West. "We need a comprehensive plan," Scian said.

    "What is the bigger picture here? We have an obligation to look after people in this community.''

    "Traffic is already out of control on the westside,'' agreed Coun. Diane Freeman.

    Gary Duguay, a Westvale area resident, said he, too, is worried. "The roundabout is currently very dangerous,'' he told councillors.

    "We will have people die, no if, ands or buts."

    Duguay said he's concerned with the 1.1-million-square-foot project planned at Ira Needles and University Avenue. The development will be bigger than Conestoga Mall, he said. The main road near the mall is at least four lanes.

    Ira Needles is now a two-lane road, but the region plans to widen it to four lanes, said city planner Trevor Hawkins.

    Councillors agreed to defer considering the smaller development at Ira Needles and Erb Street West until a traffic assessment of Ira Needles Boulevard has been completed.

    The traffic study will be done by INC. Corp., which stands for Ira Needles Commercial Corp., the owner of the property at Ira Needles and University. The traffic study will be reviewed by Region of Waterloo officials, Hawkins said.

    INC's 35.8-hectare property straddles the boundary line between the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo at Ira Needles and University.

    The development will include stores, offices, movie theatres, gyms, restaurants and services such as hairdressers and coffee shops.

    Those firms will employ as many as 3,500 people and generate $500,000 a month in taxes for the city's coffers. Construction would be completed in about five years.
    Last edited by Spokes; 07-18-2010 at 11:14 AM.
  3. Spokes's Avatar
    From Kitchener | Member Since Dec 2009 | 4,277 Posts
    #3
    Does anyone else thing calling this "mixed use" is a bit of a stretch? I mean, in theory, it is mixed use. But when I think of mixed use, I sure don't think of this haha.
  4. #4
    Ira Needles centre to house Wal-Mart store

    WATERLOO REGION — A Wal-Mart store is the first major tenant to be confirmed in the new Ira Needles Commercial Centre, a giant retail-commercial complex planned on the west side of Kitchener and Waterloo.

    The Wal-Mart supercentre will include the retail chain’s traditional mix of products, plus a grocery store and enhanced fashion, home décor and electronics departments, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart Canada said.

    The company recently took out a building permit for the site. It expects to begin construction in the spring and open later in the year. The store will employ about 350 people, said Felicia Fefer of Wal-Mart Canada, in an email. When completed, it will be the fifth Wal-Mart in Waterloo Region.

    Located on 35 hectares at the corner of Ira Needles Boulevard and University Avenue, the Ira Needles centre will straddle the border of Kitchener and Waterloo. When completed in about five years, it will have just over one million square feet of retail, office and entertainment space.

    It will be double the size of the Sunrise Centre, a large retail-commercial development on Kitchener’s west side near Highway 7 & 8. The Sunrise Centre was developed by the Voisin family, who are among a group building the Ira Needles centre. Other developers involved are Paul Dietrich and Geoff Moore.

    Steve Voisin, construction manager for the Ira Needles Centre, said it was premature to identify any other tenants at this time. By the end of the year, he expects about five or six tenants will be open for business.

    In all, there will be about 25 buildings on the site, he said in an interview.

    Fefer said Wal-Mart decided to be part of the new development because of the area’s potential. “The Ira Needles Commercial Centre is the next retail development in Kitchener-Waterloo and we are excited to be part of this new retail hub.”

    Sad day... do we really need more of these stores. I refuse to shop at walmart but everyone else and there mother seems to.
  5. Wal-Mart is not the first confirmed tenant. Last year, we heard that Lowes and CIBC will open here. We also heard that the Fairway Road Cineplex will relocate here into a much larger building.
  6. UrbanWaterloo's Avatar
    From Kitchener-Waterloo | Member Since Dec 2009 | 5,693 Posts
    #6
    Movie complex to open on Waterloo’s west side
    Record staff - January 26, 2010
    http://news.therecord.com/article/662408

    WATERLOO – A 10-screen movie theatre is in the works for the west side of Waterloo.

    Empire Theatres announced today that it will build the complex at University Avenue and Ira Needles Boulevard as part of the Ira Needles Commercial Centre.

    The complex, to be called Empire Theatres Waterloo, is schedule to open this fall.

    The company also announced that it is renovating its theatre complex on Gateway Park Drive in Kitchener.

    The renovations, which will include the replacement of seats and a reconfiguration of the refreshments areas, will begin this month and be completed this spring.

    Empire Theatres, headquartered in Stellarton, N.S., operates 50 theatres across the country.

    A Wal-Mart store is the only other confirmed tenant of the Ira Needles centre.

    The centre, still in the early stages of development, will contain more than one million square feet of retail, office and entertainment space. It will be developed over the next five years.
  7. Wow, I guess Cineplex Odeon changed their minds, and now an Empire is opening up. Empire is a little Cheaper than Galaxy, so that's good. The good thing about Cineplex is that their buildings are slightly more appealing than Empire's.

    What's going to happen to the tiny Cineplex on Fairway Road now?
  8. Traffic plans put to the test on Ira Needles Boulevard
    Road Ahead column by Jeff Outhit | THE RECORD | Saturday, February 12, 2010

    Planners hope to avoid past mistakes, in preparing Ira Needles Boulevard for the big traffic coming its way.

    There are already plazas on the new road in west Kitchener and Waterloo. By Christmas, it may see the first six buildings of a shopping centre so big it will need 4,100 parking spaces.

    The mall-sized Ira Needles Commercial Centre is to include offices, a fitness centre, 10 movie screens, a Wal-Mart and big box retailers. It may be completed by 2013.

    Key traffic issues:


    Two lanes or four? Ira Needles opened with two lanes and five roundabouts. You may be thinking, BUILD FOUR LANES NOW! But planners insist the road needs just two lanes until 2019-2021, based on projected traffic and the extra capacity of roundabouts.

    Developers of the Ira Needles centre accept that two lanes will work “with tolerable delays.” But they would prefer four lanes sooner, said Steve Voisin, of Voisin Development.

    About 240 metres of Ira Needles Boulevard will be widened to four lanes this year outside the planned shopping centre. This will eliminate a tricky lane merge in the short space between the University Avenue roundabout and a sixth roundabout to be built at private expense near Glasgow Street.

    Traffic lights or circles? No traffic signals are planned, in part to maintain the integrity of the circles.

    This avoids the mistake made in placing an unwarranted traffic light at the nearby Canadian Tire plaza, at Ira Needles and Erb Street West. Care is required to keep that light from interfering with a roundabout only 176 metres away.

    Shopping access:
    Nobody wants to repeat the traffic headaches of the Sunrise Shopping Centre, built by some of the same developers in west Kitchener. Many drivers were baffled by its entries, exits and interior circulation. Some helpful changes have been made since it opened.

    Motorists will enter the Ira Needles development using two large roundabouts and three smaller accesses. Inside, the plan calls for three tight, single-lane roundabouts. They are intended to circulate traffic at safe, slow speeds, more efficiently than all-way stops, Voisin said.

    Be warned that as the giant shopping centre launches, it will be shiny and new, and everybody will want to check it out. Ira Needles could seem overwhelmed at times, in particular on Saturdays.

    But traffic should settle down as the novelty wears off. So give it time, to assess whether the traffic planning has failed.

    http://news.therecord.com/article/669888
  9. #9
    Huge Boardwalk centre to create 3,200 jobs


    BY CHUCK HOWITT, RECORD STAFF

    WATERLOO REGION — Developers are calling it The Boardwalk, but when it’s finished visitors will be walking on concrete instead of wood and gazing out at a sea of stores and offices instead of water.

    When completed in three to five years, The Boardwalk at Ira Needles Boulevard, as it will formally be known, will create 3,200 jobs and contribute $6 million annually in new municipal taxes.

    So say the creators of the one-million square foot commercial centre to be constructed on the west side of Kitchener and Waterloo at Ira Needles Boulevard and University Avenue West.

    The name for the mammoth project was unveiled today by developers Greg Voisin and Paul Dietrich.

    “The site will be pedestrian-friendly with attractive streetscapes, landscaping and architecture, so the name The Boardwalk seems like a perfect fit,” said Voisin, president of Voisin Developments, which has built 12 shopping centres across Ontario, including the Sunrise Centre in Kitchener.

    The Boardwalk will actually consist of three shopping centres on one site, said Dietrich. A Wal-Mart will anchor the south end. In the middle will be a fashion village and other retail stores. Corporate offices, a fitness centre and a 10-screen cinema complex being developed by Empire Theatres will anchor the north end, he said.

    Each will be linked by a “central spine” or main road running through the property, which will include a transit terminal, said Voisin. The idea was to create a facility where people could shop, eat, exercise, work or go to a movie all in one location, he said.

    At present, the only tenants publicly identified are Wal-Mart, Empire Theatres and two bank branches, CIBC and TD Bank. When The Boardwalk is finished, it will have about 30 buildings in all, including two corporate office towers and more than 4,000 parking spaces.

    Dietrich has developed four smaller commercial centres in Waterloo Region, including Glasgow Mews on Fischer-Hallman Road in Kitchener, Northport Landing near Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and Cambridge Station at Myers Road and Highway 24 in Cambridge.

    He began assembling the land for The Boardwalk as far back as 1985, then brought in Voisin Developments as a partner.

    The two developers are investing more than $100 million in the project. They will own all the buildings, except for two that will be occupied by Wal-Mart and another unnamed anchor tenant. With an abundance of housing nearby, Voisin called the location one of the best undeveloped commercial sites in all of Canada.

    Construction crews of up to 100 workers have been grading the hilly 35-hectare site during the summers for the past four years, Voisin said. It’s located just south of the Waterloo landfill site.

    At the moment it is still largely a muddy field, but construction is scheduled to begin next week on the Wal-Mart store.




    Office Towers... hmm. 4000 spaces is something else.. I see this being just big parking lots and no sense of "The site will be pedestrian-friendly with attractive streetscapes, landscaping and architecture" . Time will tell.

    Irks me that we will have another Wal-Mart in the area. The discussion about Coffee Culture could be applied to Wal-Mart with respect to people going there.

    I guess we will find out how good the round-abouts will work once this gets built. They couldn't possibly make this any worse then there other project Sunrise, could they?
  10. Spokes's Avatar
    From Kitchener | Member Since Dec 2009 | 4,277 Posts
    #10
    Wow, thats a lot of parking.

    I wonder what they consider a "tower"
  11. Urbanomicon's Avatar
    From Kitchener, Ontario | Member Since Feb 2010 | 981 Posts
    #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Spokes
    Wow, thats a lot of parking.

    At least this parking lot seems to be designed with some semblance of traffic flow in mind; unlike the parking lot nightmare that is the Sunrise Centre, which looks like it was drawn by a 5 year old with a crayon.
    "Only the insane have the strength enough to prosper. Only those that prosper may truly judge what is sane."
  12. Spokes's Avatar
    From Kitchener | Member Since Dec 2009 | 4,277 Posts
    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanomicon
    At least this parking lot seems to be designed with some semblance of traffic flow in mind; unlike the parking lot nightmare that is the Sunrise Centre, which looks like it was drawn by a 5 year old with a crayon.
    That's true. Ive always hated the parking lot at sunrise. It's terrible. While this is not the best project, its significantly better than Sunrise or other suburban big box locations.
  13. Quote Originally Posted by Bauer123
    Irks me that we will have another Wal-Mart in the area. The discussion about Coffee Culture could be applied to Wal-Mart with respect to people going there.
    I fear this will be quite damaging to the Uptown core. Both Cambridge and Kitchener (as do many other small cities) have seen the damaging effect too much edge-fill retail does to the core of the city. However $6 million in property taxes is a siren call to the city planners.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bauer123
    I guess we will find out how good the round-abouts will work once this gets built. They couldn't possibly make this any worse then there other project Sunrise, could they?
    Do not underestimate them.
  14. #14
    Walmart doesn't hurt Uptown a whole lot because of the type of retail in Uptown is more upscale. But without stereotyping to much the majority of the people who shop at Wal-Mart wouldn't shop in the uptown buying 50$ shirts, eating out, etc...
  15. From Waterloo, ON | Member Since Jan 2010 | 2,289 Posts
    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Bauer123
    Walmart doesn't hurt Uptown a whole lot because of the type of retail in Uptown is more upscale. But without stereotyping to much the majority of the people who shop at Wal-Mart wouldn't shop in the uptown buying 50$ shirts, eating out, etc...
    That's exactly it, though. Uptown is upscale and/or independent because it has a hard time competing with the Wal-Marts for anything else. That is: it has already been hurt, and maybe isn't going to be hurt too much more. If you think the downtown is a place to live and work instead of a place to come by for a pleasant stroll -- then you will surely understand that suburbanization of everything does hurt the city.
  16. I'm a bit concerned about the timing of this project more than anything. If the economy doesn't pick up a lot of steam by the time construction is well underway, this could create a lot of vacancies in other shopping centres around the two cities. Look what happened with the westside marketplace at Erb/Ira Needles. They gained a Shoppers, but a space was left vacant in the Beechwood Plaza and has yet to be filled.

    Not only is vacant retail a concern, but the office vacancy rate is still pretty high...especially outside the city of Waterloo. There is still the Fischer-Hallman Business Centre which is fully vacant, except for the retail on the bottom. And a ton of new inventory is coming onto the market downtown with the Lang Tannery. I hope the economy picks up fast and we don't run into a case of serious overbuilding.
    Last edited by Urban_Enthusiast86; 03-12-2010 at 12:30 AM.
  17. I can't wait to take a nice stroll on the Boardwalk and smell rotting garbage from over yonder.
  18. Spokes's Avatar
    From Kitchener | Member Since Dec 2009 | 4,277 Posts
    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by mpd618
    That's exactly it, though. Uptown is upscale and/or independent because it has a hard time competing with the Wal-Marts for anything else. That is: it has already been hurt, and maybe isn't going to be hurt too much more. If you think the downtown is a place to live and work instead of a place to come by for a pleasant stroll -- then you will surely understand that suburbanization of everything does hurt the city.
    And it further guarantees that those people would continue to not shop Uptown now that they have more options.

    Quote Originally Posted by Urban_Enthusiast86
    I'm a bit concerned about the timing of this project more than anything. If the economy doesn't pick up a lot of steam by the time construction is well underway, this could create a lot of vacancies in other shopping centres around the two cities. Look what happened with the westside marketplace at Erb/Ira Needles. They gained a Shoppers, but a space was left vacant in the Beechwood Plaza and has yet to be filled.

    Not only is vacant retail a concern, but the office vacancy rate is still pretty high...especially outside the city of Waterloo. There is still the Fischer-Hallman Business Centre which is fully vacant, except for the retail on the bottom. And a ton of new inventory is coming onto the market downtown with the Lang Tannery. I hope the economy picks up fast and we don't run into a case of serious overbuilding.
    I was under the impression that the vacancy rates in the suburbs were actually fairly low? No?
  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by mpd618
    That's exactly it, though. Uptown is upscale and/or independent because it has a hard time competing with the Wal-Marts for anything else. That is: it has already been hurt, and maybe isn't going to be hurt too much more. If you think the downtown is a place to live and work instead of a place to come by for a pleasant stroll -- then you will surely understand that suburbanization of everything does hurt the city.
    Walmart is cheap and a small independent store can't compete with them in that area. It's a society thing really, if someone wants to pay the lowest for something they will. The whole system is broken. Most people who shop there end up indirectly putting themselves out of work because the company they work for can't sell it for a profit anymore if they are paying the person in north american wages.
  20. Quote Originally Posted by Spokes
    I was under the impression that the vacancy rates in the suburbs were actually fairly low? No?
    It's not terrible, but it could become a lot higher if we overbuild in a time where businesses are struggling to keep their current locations profitable. Shopper's Drug Mart in the Beechwood Plaza is just one example I used.
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