Development Potential

Many areas within the Airport Megazone have low employment densities, especially those in which manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing dominate. However, these low densities imply redevelopment and infill potential, and an opportunity to integrate land use and transit, while addressing auto dependency and congestion. In fact, the Airport Corporate Centre (which makes up most of the AMZ South subzone) has been identified as an Intensification Area in the Mississauga Official Plan. As well, several Major Transit Station Areas are identified in the megazone: along Hurontario Street and Eglinton Avenue East, and at the Malton GO station. The Renforth Gateway Mobility Hub is identified in The Big Move.

THE AIRPORT CORPORATE CENTRE/AMZ SOUTH SUBZONE

Significant redevelopment potential is perhaps most evident in the AMZ South subzone where, though the densities are high relative to other parts of the AMZ, there is still significant potential to densify. In this auto-dependent area, office buildings were built with considerable surface parking and small building footprints relative to lot size. As transit service improves and transit ridership to the area grows, the area can be intensified through development of what are now surface parking lots.

The MiWay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line extends along Eglinton Avenue, serving the Airport Corporate Centre (ACC). The maximum distance from Eglinton to the northern edge of the ACC is about one kilometre – so the oft-discussed “last mile” issue is not a significant problem. With a properly designed pedestrian environment, the whole ACC could have pedestrian access to the Eglinton MiWay BRT.

Spectrum Square – a project of up to 121,000 square metres of new office buildings and a “restaurant campus” currently under development north of Eglinton Avenue and east of Spectrum Way – suggests the potential of the area.

At present, it is estimated that Airport Corporate Centre alone contains about 57 hectares of vacant lands on 17 sites.[1]  A rough estimate suggests that if each site were to be developed at a modest floor space index[2] of 1.0 times the lot area (equivalent to a two-storey building covering 50% of the lot), about 570,000 square metres of development could be added. At typical office occupancy rates,[3] this redevelopment could accommodate an additional 25,000 to 35,000 workers.[4]

This estimate does not include additional areas that could be redeveloped, such as existing surface parking lots. The developable surface parking represents roughly 60 hectares in the ACC alone[5] – with the potential for an additional 600,000 square metres of development, and another 26,000 to 35,000 workers.

Altogether, a conservative estimate suggests the potential to add space for 50,000 to 70,000 workers in the ACC area. This represents a unique opportunity to build on existing density and businesses, support higher levels of transit service, and address the significant role the area plays in contributing to regional auto travel and congestion.

However, achieving this redevelopment potential will require addressing outstanding issues. Densification is not possible without good transit service to free up surface parking for development. Transit also needs to be supported by improvements in pedestrian facilities. At present, the built environment is not conducive to walking and there is little in the way of a public realm. Integration with existing and improved transit, an updating of the area, and a plan to address the needs of knowledge-intensive activities and attract further investment are all needed.

 

[1] Table 9, 2016 Vacant Lands with All Attributes, Mississauga Open Data Catalogue, http://www.mississauga.ca/portal/residents/publicationsopen-datacatalogue.

[2] A floor space index (FSI) is the measure of the floor area of a building divided by the area of its lot.

[3] A very conservative 23 m2 per worker is assumed to arrive at the lower number. Many facilities have less floor space per worker. A figure of 17 m2 per worker was used to arrive at the higher number. The latter figure is at the higher end of the floor space per worker figures associated with the Spectrum Square project (which range from 13 to 17 m2 per worker, or 140 to 180 ft2).

[4] This figure includes currently vacant sites in the Spectrum Square lands, with development assumed at the same 1.0 times FSI as the other vacant sites.

[5] Only surface parking lots with an area greater than 0.5 hectares are included.