Inside Toronto’s new 100,000-square-foot marketplace made of shipping containers
From the outside, a new marketplace at Bathurst and Front Sts. looks just like a bunch of shipping containers stacked together. Once inside, however, you quickly realize the space that has for long sat vacant has been redesigned and transformed into a city block of its own.
There are sitting spaces. Small gardens. Astroturf around paths and in-between containers, which are filled with dozens of decorated cubicles. There’s even a brewery and a basketball court.
Starting April 10, visitors will be able to peruse through Stackt, the 100,000-square-foot parcel that’s now home to dozens of food and retail businesses as well as cultural and entertainment programs.
Stackt is an experiment on how to transform a public space and, through it, create experiences and events that bring people together, said project founder Matt Rubinoff.
Matt Rubinoff, founder of Stackt, says they downplayed exterior branding, focusing instead on artistic expression and green infrastructure inside. (Toronto Star)
While there will be plenty of stuff to check out inside various shipping containers — ranging from food and beverage vendors, including the Belgian Moon Brewery, and art galleries to services such as tattoo studios and fitness programming — nearly 70 per cent of activities at Stackt will be outdoor, including movie screenings and pickup basketball games.
Rubinoff said Stackt is leasing the land from the city for nearly 30 months, and his hope is to extend the lease depending on how things turn out.
Founder Matt Rubinoff is leasing the land from the city through September 2020. (Toronto Star)
“It’s been four and half years since we started working on this project. We’re pretty excited about it now,” he said Tuesday.
City spokesperson Bruce Hawkins confirmed the lease began last May, and is effective until Sept. 30, 2020. Over the term of the lease, the city will receive roughly $886,000 (plus HST), he said.
The marketplace is made up of 120 shipping containers that have been painted dark grey on the outside. More than 30 units have been made available for retailers and business owners. Many are single units (280 square feet each) but a few have combined double or triple units for bigger spaces.
The marketplace is made up of 120 shipping containers, of which more than 30 units have been made available for retailers and business owners. (Toronto Star)
Rubinoff said they purposefully downplayed exterior branding, focusing instead on artistic expression and green infrastructure within the marketplace to increase a sense of community and belonging.
Stackt, he said, is meant to be a hub for inspiration, a platform that shows value for space in a city that’s getting more and more expensive.
Beer gardens at Stackt. (Toronto Star)
Growing up in the same area, Rubinoff remembers seeing the space sitting empty for a long time, after it was used by a smelting plant and by a slaughterhouse — hence the odour that had made the space unpopular. Over time, however, the neighbourhood “really exploded” with condo development, but somehow the lot at this corner remained unused. Plans to turn it into a city park had been mulled over but never materialized.
“I thought the community could use a space like this,” said Rubinoff of the new hub. “It’s not always that you see a 100,000-square-foot land in the middle of the city.”
The marketplace will also host outdoor film viewings. (Toronto Star)
Stackt’s concept is similar to Market 707, a street food vending and small business retail space operating since 2010 that uses shipping containers at Bathurst St. and Dundas St. W. just south of Toronto Western Hospital.
An upcoming lineup of activities at the Stackt siteinclude a painting competition, a barbecue event with various DJs and entertainment, and an outdoor movie screening for John Wick 2.