A BUSINESS PARK on Laird Drive could see another shopping centre soon. First Capital Realty, a retail development company, bought the 85 Laird Dr. site, located on the east side of the street at Esandar Drive. Coun. John Parker said he’s discussed the site’s future with the company.
“They came to see me about a month ago,” Parker said.
“They’re based in Liberty Village, and they created Liberty Village, so they have an interesting track record of taking unusual, out of the way spaces and turning them into something that has a viable business side to it and fits with the community where it’s located.”
The business park, once comprised of industrial factories, is now a mix of retail shopping centres and industrial uses. In the past, there has been tension between neighbours, retailers and the remaining industrial businesses in the park because of increased traffic and the quality of jobs that retail developments bring.
“It’s certainly better than residential, but it’s not quite as good for everybody as industrial would be,” said Joe Cacioppo, president of the Leaside Business Park Association. “Not just because it’s our own backyard, but because it’s better for the taxpayers, better for the tax base, better for gridlock. There’s a lot of benefit to it.” Jamie Chisholm, a vice-president at First Capital Realty, said they are committed to maintaining the historic locomotive shop that currently sits on the site, which was built in 1919.
“I can commit to you that we will be retaining the building and restoring it,” Chisholm said. “What specific use goes in there — or uses, for that matter — is still being figured out.”