What City Centre is Missing & Has Too Much Of
To be fair, Mississauga's condo-heavy City Centre is in no way devoid of activities. There are restaurants (albeit big box ones). There's Square One. There's a movie theatre, a smattering of plazas (some with really good Indian food), an attractively lit and happily-staffed Whole Foods (come for the cheese display, stay for the cheery service!), an LCBO (perfectly located if you're hosting a condo party!) and a Playdium (good for 12-year-olds).
What is missing is a vibrant urban space enhanced by indie shops, cafes and restaurants.
The neighbourhood has the potential to be trendy, chic and unique, but it remains, despite its incredible growth, distinctly suburban. It benefits from some walkable spaces, a dense population and a cluster of pubs, bars and restaurants that entertain young weekend crowds, but it fails to bring residents and visitors a memorable experience because of the unspeakably boring use of condo retail space.
The next time you walk through City Centre, look at the retail spaces on the ground floors of City Gate, Capital, Absolute, Chicago, One Park Tower, Park Side Village (PSV) and Limelight. Now, to give credit where credit is due, some space is utilized wonderfully.
I must sing the praises of Capital's Second Cup and PSV's Starbucks (where I spend many a weekday morning). Those might be corporate chains, but they provide residents and visitors a place to work, play and enjoy gourmet seasonally themed beverages. Limelight boasts a soon-to-be-opened dessert cafe, a shawarma restaurant and a Union Burger (so Limelight is obviously the coolest). Other condos offer their space to banks, which makes sense. What baffles me is the extreme proliferation of walk-in clinics and dental offices.
If you need a flu shot, a teeth cleaning or an STI test, City Centre is the place for you. Almost every new condo has a doctor's office in it, ready to treat your strep throat or gonorrhea. While it's certainly convenient for residents who are worried about the person or people they've brought home from Bier Markt (no judgment!), I question whether a walk-in clinic on every single block (sometimes more than one on the same block) is necessary.
All of the doctor's offices probably exist because medical practitioners can afford sky-high rental rates, but they can make the neighbourhood look like a semi-urban outdoor hospital -- a mecca for hypochondriacs or chronic flu sufferers. Doctor's offices are certainly necessary, but hoards of them sterilize the space, space that could house independents shops (like the kinds you find in Streetsville or Port Credit), cafes (now that Guilty Dog is no longer with us, it's time for a new indie player) and restos.
City Centre boasts a diverse population, a relatively new college and newly constructed and about-to-be constructed condos and townhomes. Right now, there are limited bars servicing the new-ish slue of young people calling the neighbourhood home for school or work.
In the summer, groups of teens hang out in front of the Rabba on Living Arts Drive, driving their Civics in circles and yelling in the way that only bored-ish young people can. They need more chic and attractive restos, bars and cafes. Bier Markt, Failtes, West 50 and &Co do their part, but more options will enhance and enliven the area and draw even more people to the neighbourhood -- benefiting both local businesses and the city's overall vibe.
Square One services people's shopping needs, but there's something special about a local, seasonal farmer's market or unique shop selling original wall art or funky housewares or pewter Buddha statues. City Centre can offer the best of both the worlds -- access to popular big box stores and restaurants and trendy, indie joints that provide colour and personality. With a population as diverse as ours, there's no reason we can't capture the earthy vibe of Kensington Market with South and East Asian and African shops and restos (it'll be perfect because we won't have to pair new-age stores with marauding drug dealers patrolling parks asking "my man, watchu lookin' for?").
City Centre is safe. It's sterile and suburban. It boasts an enormous population of families, singles and students, but it doesn't serve the resident's needs in a unique way. We only need so many flu shot options.
That said, it appears that Absolute has a new spa that offers hot stone massages (and it's right next to a doctor's office, obviously). I haven't had one yet, but I'm happy to know I can get one any time. Also, the Chicago condos house a Moksha Yoga studio, which I am also grateful for. I just want to wander by a sidewalk market and buy a Vietnamese dragon fruit. Is that so much to ask?
Pedestrian only walkway - 13%
Statue of Hazel - 13%
Indie concert theatre - 10%
Water park - 8%
Monorail - 7%
More Greenery - 6%
Less parking lots - 6%
Convention centre - 4%
Bigger skate park - 4%
Hotels - 3%
Other - 2%