The corner of Dufferin and Dupont is a working class, generally blue collar area not far from the mid-Toronto rail track. The area has always been busy, heavily transited, and Dufferin St. has continuously grown as a major north-south thoroughfare of the city.
The Dufferin bus route is one of the busiest in Toronto and use continues to grow. Two decades ago, houses in the area were extremely affordable and the neighbourhood was a major magnet for new immigrants while also being home to more established Italian, Portuguese, and Anglophone communities. Dufferin-Dupont was served locally by Galleria Mall, a 5 acre patch of retail and shopping locales. Galleria was built in the early 70s, and while regarded with affection by many locals, had a reputation as being run-down and outdated. The mall was a shadow of Dufferin Mall’s scale and shape just south of Bloor. Dufferin-Dupont’s close proximity to the Bloor subway line and the downtown and midtown cores and the Annex have benefited it greatly, and equity in homes in the area has soared, especially in the last 10-12 years. The gentrification of the area has been ongoing for some time, and young professional families have been moving in. But all of that is now intensifying.
Galleria Mall was bought in 2015 by Freed Developments and ELAD Canada, by September, ELAD took over total control of the site. The new owners spent years consulting the community and trudging through the regulatory, zoning, and approvals processes to have an ambitious and bold plan prepared. The derelict mall with considerable parking space will be transformed into a network of eight residential buildings with 3,400 housing units, 150 of which will be ‘affordable’, considerable retail space and a redesigned and enlarged park space and community recreation centre. The new project will see 3.3 million square feet of space, up from the present 227K square feet. While the already significant congestion in the neighbourhood will only worsen, the project will likely spur further densification and gentrification in the area and will see many jobs and investment poured in. Galleria’s poor reputation and derelict condition at the time of the sale likely netted ELAD and Freed a good sale price. The area was once an aircraft manufacturing plant that was transformed into a car plant and then eventually retail and parking space. Construction of the project will take a decade to complete.