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Empress Walk is a large condominum and retail complex at the intersection of Yonge Street and Empress Avenue in the North York Centre area of the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Developed by Menkes Development, Phase 1 was completed in 1997 and Phase 2 by 2000. The lower portion is a three-storey retail mall (lower level with access to the North York Centre subway station) covering 240,000 square feet (22,000 m2) topped with a 95 feet (29 m) dome, the highlight being the longest unsupported escalator in North America to give access to the movie theatre from the ground floor. There is a 3035-seat movie multi-plex featuring an IMAX Theatre owned by Cineplex Entertainment under the Cineplex Cinemas brand. Above are two 34-storey residential towers with a total of 745 units between them. These skyscrapers remain among the tallest in North York.
Behind the Empress Walk complex on its east side is Princess Park, commemorating the original sites of the first municipal building and fire hall of North York. The clock tower from the fire hall has been reconstructed and serves as the centrepiece for the park. Across the street, and connected via the TTC tunnel, are Mel Lastman Square, the North York Civic Centre, the North York City Centre office tower and Novotel. Next door, and connected via a passageway is the 5075 Yonge Street tower, with Scotiabank and Upper Madison College.
It was built as part of Mel Lastman's bid to create a downtown in North York to rival the old city of Toronto. It remains a hub of activity with condominium projects being built north and south of it today.
In 2000, the property was acquired by RioCan REIT, a Canadian real estate investment trust.
- Cineplex Cinemas (originally Famous Players SilverCity & Empire Theatres) (63,644 sq ft.)
- Staples Business Depot (originally Indigo Books and Music) (20,202 sq ft.)
- LCBO (3,238 sq ft.)
- Loblaws greatfood Empress Market (60,100 sq ft.)
- Future Shop (originally SportChek ) (28,970 sq ft.)
- Wendy's and the former Fabricland (originally Tower Records) (3.934 sq ft. and 10,100 sq ft (940 m2). respectively)
- Fabricland closed in late 2012 and was replaced by Dollarama
Prior to the building of Empress Walk, the east side of Yonge Street did not have the zoning capacity to build condominiums but only office space and retail stores. A deal was made with City Council to re-zone the area on the condition that the developers had done the following without municipal funding:
- rebuild Earl Haig Secondary School
- rebuild McKee Public School
- rebuild Mitchell Field Community Centre
- re-align Doris Avenue to prevent thru-way traffic in a residential area connecting Bayview Avenue and Yonge Street.
This decision proved to be a very popular one in the community because Empress Walk would contribute opportunities for entrepreneurs and also revitalize the aging community. The building structures of Earl Haig Secondary School, McKee Elementary School and Mitchell Field Community Centre drastically required rebuilding or advanced renovations; however, funding was not available. The entire rebuilding of this community was completed without the use of tax revenue. In return, the buyers of the condo units were allowed to send their children to the aforementioned schools, making this one of their selling points (new condo residents now have to be bused to schools in other areas due to overcrowding).