[URBAN NOTE] “A convenience store’s second life”
In Friday’s issue of The Globe and Mail, Jeremiah Shamess and John Lorinc report on the unexpected problems encountered with retrofitting an old convenience store in Toronto’s Seaton Village, in my neighbourhood, into residential space.
In 2012, when Jeremiah Shamess and Travis Goodhand bought an old convenience store at 134 Pendrith Ave., deep in a residential neighbourhood near Dupont and Ossington, for $815,000, they reckoned that they could remake the spacious corner building into a triplex with luxury apartments.
Or, in those moments when they were thinking more expansively, they figured they could add a floor, a roof-top patio and re-position the retail space as a “bodega” – a small European-style café that also sold a selection of groceries.
In either case, the partners saw an infill investment project that could produce some income by adding value to a well-located and highly flexible building in need of some upgrading.
But by the time Mr. Shamess, a commercial real estate broker, and Mr. Goodhand, a structural engineer, finally put it on the market last fall, they had learned a few important lessons about both the possibilities and limitations of repurposing the ghost retail stores that dot the dense former working-class neighbourhoods that extend in a swath from Victoria Park all the way over to Roncesvalles.
“Our thinking was, ‘Let’s make high-end rental units in an interesting neighbourhood,’ ” Mr. Shamess says. While finding tenants was easy enough, the financing and selling proved somewhat tricky, and this despite the abundance of cheap credit and a market crying out for product. “It was harder than we thought.”