Speakers Corner: Downtown No Frills location staying put for now

As residents in a downtown neighbourhood worried about losing an affordable grocery store to a new development, the company behind the project says there is no cause for concern just yet.

Last summer, Toronto City Council approved a major redevelopment plan at Front Street East and Princess Street where a No Frills currently sits.

The plan includes a 37-storey residential building at the southeast corner of the intersection with a 28-storey office building mid-block along Front. Retail and public space will also be included. At the moment, however, there are no permits to demolish any building so it remains unclear when all this could happen.

“Currently, we don’t know when the No Frills will be closing, but we do understand that the new development has the intention to create a new retail space for a grocery store,” said a representative for the ward’s city councillor Chris Moise. “It will be smaller in size, but it recognizes that the existing No Frills is not necessarily efficiently laid out [due to the historical newspaper use], the hope is that what is offered in the new grocer will be similar.”

Area residents and customers who frequent the No Frills tell CityNews that they would be heartbroken if the store disappeared, as it is the only affordable grocery store in the area. The next closest No Frills would be about a 20-minute walk up Parliament Street, a particularly difficult trek for seniors.

CityNews reached out to First Gulf, the developer behind the project, to find out more about the store’s future including whether it or a similar grocer would return.

“We enjoy a great relationship with No Frills, appreciate their importance to the local community, and value their long-term presence,” executive vice president of development and planning Peter Nikolakakos told CityNews in a statement.

Though he did not address when No Frills would close and construction would begin, he implied that it would not be for some time. “Although we have rights to develop a mixed-use facility including office, retail and residential, there are no plans to develop in the immediate future,” Nikolakakos wrote.

According to Councillor Moise’s office, any demolition would be at least a year or more away, and could easily be longer, so it appears the No Frills is safe for now.

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