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NEWS: Retail suffers as developments loom (May/June 2023)

August 8th, 2023 · No Comments

Goodness Me!, formerly Noah’s, closes after 39 years

By Fox Oliver

On Saturday, May 20, Goodness Me! Natural Food Market (formerly Noah’s Natural Food), located at 322 Bloor St. W, closed their doors for good. The store opened in 1984, but as large chunks of Bloor and Spadina are set to be demolished to make way for condominium towers, existing retail is being pushed out.

“It’s sad to see it close. I’ve worked here for 14 years and have a lot of regular customers,” said Farshad Sahim, an employee of the food market.

The owners and staff at Goodness Me! have known about the planned development for 320-332 Bloor St. W since shortly after it was proposed on Nov. 5, 2021.

However, staff at Goodness Me! were only told they were closing two months before the scheduled close date which was originally in mid-June.

On its last day open, Goodness Me! was filled with empty shelves, liquidation sales adverts, and a few staff and customers. “The people here are nice and they make it an easy place to shop, so I am disappointed they’re closing,” said Patricia, a regular customer. “I’m not looking forward to even more construction on Bloor Street,” she added. “The Annex has a unique culture which new high-rises will damage,” said Sahim. “People keep coming back because they have history, and their parents went there years before them,” he added, with regards to why it’s important to support small businesses.

A Second Cup located in the same building as Goodness Me! and a Pizza Pizza adjacent to it have also recently shut down. Both properties are owned by First Capital, the developers of the high-rise planned for 320-332 Bloor St. W.  First Capital declined an interview, but provided the following statement: 

“First Capital REIT is actively leasing the retail and office availabilities at Spadina/Bloor. We look forward to bringing exciting new tenants and retailers to the properties while progressing our development applications for this important transit node.”

However, there is no evidence that First Capital is seeking to rent these storefronts through any multiple listing real estate services. Further, there is no signage on these vacant storefronts suggesting they are for lease. After repeated attempts to contact the manager of Goodness Me! to discuss the reason for their early closure, they did not reply.

The proposed high-rise, according to the building application, will be 37-storeys tall and will have 377 residential units, 628 square metres of commercial space, 61 parking spots, and 447 bicycle spaces. Currently there are approximately 2000 square metres of retail and office space on the site, meaning the new development would provide roughly two-thirds less commercial space than what currently exists.

The developer, BDP Quadrangle, lists 2026 as the potential completion date for the project; however, the application for the development is still under review, and a building permit has not yet been issued. If this application is approved, it will still take approximately 36 months to complete the building if there are no further complications, making a completion date of 2026 unlikely, but not impossible.

There is no mention of affordable housing units in First Capital’s application. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Annex has increased to $2,475 in 2023, while the city’s average market rent for a one-bedroom has grown to $1,538. The city cannot force developers to include affordable housing in their buildings, meaning it’s unlikely the developers will forgo this valuable rent to provide affordable housing.

The building proposed at 320-332 Bloor St. W. is one of many tall structures in the works for the area. A 29-storey mixed-use building has been approved directly to the east, and there is a 35-storey condominium approved for the northwest corner of the Bloor-Spadina intersection. On the southeast corner, the University of Toronto plans to build The Gateway, a development that will feature residential, academic, and commercial space across multiple buildings. The Gateway will significantly address the university’s strong need for housing and intends to link the university with the surrounding neighbourhood.

Goodness Me! is just one of many small businesses that will have to leave the Annex as new developments stack up. It may only be once the developments are complete and businesses fill these vacant spots that the Bloor-Spadina intersection will feel whole again.

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