Ajax outgrows aging Harwood plaza

Plaza
A look at the current state and the future of the Harwood Plaza in Ajax. Photo by Chloe Troicuk

 

There is a new vision for downtown Ajax and it is named the Grand Harwood Place. The town of Ajax wants to build condominiums in the front parking lot of the Harwood Plaza that has been around for 60 years.

The Harwood Plaza was built to serve up to 25,000 people. At the time, the plaza was the heart of the community.

But with a growing population of 110,000, the plaza no longer functions as the town’s primary commercial focus, according to the town of Ajax. As the plaza ages, the town says redevelopment is unavoidable.

The strip mall has been identified as a poor image for downtown Ajax but has potential for improvement.

“The redevelopment of the Ajax plaza is another step in the town’s vision of a true downtown for Ajax. The redevelopment of the plaza will happen. It’s just a matter of the market because this is key,” says Paul Allore, director of planning and development services for Ajax.

The town has been working with Windcorp Developments Ltd. since 2011 on a plan to redevelop the Harwood Plaza. Windcorp has presented a ten-storey building with retail stores occupying the first floor, offices on the second and third floors, and condos on the top floors.

The Grand Harwood Place also includes two underground floors of parking with a total of 530 parking spaces designated only to those who live or work in the new building.

But some residents of the Harwood Plaza are worried about the effects of the redevelopment plan on their businesses.

Denise Burroughs, owner of the Ajax Bowling Centre, is concerned about the parking spaces being taken away. The town is building this new building right on Burroughs’ front lawn.

The development is happening in the parking lot of the Harwood Plaza. The plaza currently has 210 parking spaces and 133 of them are being taken for construction leaving only 77 parking spots for the entire plaza.

“We won’t find out until July 15 when the deadline for 85 per cent of the condos being sold is. Until then, we just attend the town meetings and wait for the decision to be made,” said Burroughs.

Burroughs is trying to remain confident that the plaza will remain untouched and she can continue her business happily with her family.

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