Wal-Mart Planning to Pull the Switcheroo on Kensington...
It's become a cliche by now -- in a small town a commercial development brings the possibility of a **shudder** WAL-MART. The residents rise up in opposition citing concerns that the mega-store will destroy main street and rob the town of its very identity and soul. And now this tale plays out in another small town, or rather, downtown Toronto...
Walmart corporate peeps have realized that at the root of the bias against their stores is NIMBY syndrome and the only way to get around it is to present their stores as a lesser evil. In the case of Toronto, Walmart is going to try the crafty tactic of playing both good and bad cop.
Toronto's Kensington Market is one of the cooler neighbourhoods that's filled with specialty vendors and all sorts of neat shops. It's also pretty densely populated, even if they are mostly hipsters. Yesterday the townsfolk held a meeting to voice opposition to a redevelopment one block north by RioCan, a giant commercial real estate company that has been buying up plots along Bathurst Street like a strung out municipal magistrate on crack. Something is certainly going up just North of Kensignton Market, but it seems a little small for a Walmart, particularly a Superstore like the one in the city's Dufferin Mall.
It can be done, as the multi-floor combo box stores like the Loblaws/Winners on Queen West and the Marshall's at Yonge and Gerrard have shown. But for years both of those were either a parking lot or a pile of rubble. A better spot might be, say, a larger plot further north, way farther north at Dupont and Christie. For one, there's likely to be nowhere near the amount of uproar against a Walmart as it's sparsely populated and without a distinct cultural or entertainment hub, at least compared to Kensington.
Oh, and two years ago in 2011, RioCan bought up a shit-tonne of properties around there, plenty enough room for a behemoth of a Walmart at 740 Dupont Street.
So when the inevitable capitulation comes over the suggestion of a Walmart so close to Kensington, just as any plans for a downtown casino went tits up, the news of a Walmart going in at Dupont and Christie will be greeted not with the same scorn, but a breath of relief. "Not in my backyard."