It is no secret that Fourth Avenue in St. Catharines has been an ongoing example of significant growth in Niagara. Over the years, we have watched as the developments have continued and positively affected the city’s growth. From Smart Centres to the new hospital, Fourth Avenue has become a high traffic area within the city. In late 2019, St. Catharines’ Fourth Avenue continued to establish itself as one of the city’s largest commercial and retail areas, and there are no signs of this progress slowing down. Let’s take a look at the latest developments on Fourth Avenue! 


The Start of Development 

Over the past few years, there have been a few key developments that have shaped Fourth Avenue into the bustling business centre it has become today. This starts by driving a few streets over to St. Paul St. West, and the opening of the Seymour Hannah Sports and Entertainment Complex. Although not on Fourth Avenue specifically, the opening of the four-pad ice rinks drew an immense amount of traffic to the surrounding area. With an increase in traffic comes a need for a thriving service industry to cater to hungry hockey teams as well as an increased retail sector. Look no further than Fourth Avenue to provide the solution. 

Fourth Avenue quickly became one of the city’s most popular retail destinations with the development of two St. Catharines West SmartCentres. Using re-zoned farm-land, the Smart Centres use over 350,000 sq. ft. of retail space. From smaller businesses to big-box stores such as The Brick, The Superstore and Walmart, these major additions quickly developed Fourth Avenue into the thriving commercial hub it is today. 

The lands on which the Centres reside were rezoned from industrial to commercial to allow for the jump-start of commercial development in the city’s west end. These centres became integral to the growth of Fourth Avenue in St Catharines and helped support the growing residential community along Vansickle Road.

Overall, The City of St. Catharines reports that there has been approximately $125 million in commercial, industrial and large-scale residential private sector investment in the west end of St. Catharines since 2009. This rising popularity of the area for development is likely due to the ease of accessibility from Highway 406, the opening of St Catharines Hospital and the availability of high-quality commercial space.


What’s happening now? 

Earlier this year, we saw the arrival of Farm Boy continuing to fill space in the Fourth Avenue West Shopping Centre as well as creating 120 jobs. The store prides itself on farm-fresh produce, butcher quality meats, artisanal cheeses and locally made and plant-based products. The already well-established chain has built quite a following and the store further galvanizes St Catharines’ reputation as a retail shopping destination in the region. 

In addition to the modern and trendy Farm Boy, that last few years saw the development of First Place plaza, a mixed-use project that includes retail and First on Fourth executive condominiums. This activity has not only attracted a new throng of shoppers and visitors to the area but the condos have brought new residents and have since released Phase 2.


The Future of Fourth Avenue

The rush of activity on Fourth Avenue shows no signs of stopping any time soon with the wider city of St Catharines following suit. In 2018, the region approved the St. Catharines GO secondary plan providing a 20-year vision and planning framework to guide transit-supportive development and redevelopment around the GO station and a commitment to bring daily GO Train service to St. Catharines by 2023. This has reinvigorated the city, its appetite for further development and heralded a new era of St Catharines as a beacon of retail excellence within the industry. 

A quick look at the commercial opportunities currently available shows the continued boom on Fourth Avenue including a prime plot for an entertainment complex or hotel. The listing is located at 1290 Fourth Avenue with 4.806 acres and an asking price of $3,168,000 which can provide employment opportunities for the growing infrastructure of St. Catharines. 

For smaller businesses, this news is especially exciting for those looking to expand their franchise or pursue their entrepreneurial careers. The empty parcels of land surrounding the hospital are designated employment lands (designated in an official plan for clusters of business and economic activities), and the growth is creating traffic which is excellent for the economy and competition. Companies are looking to break into the large Niagara market of half a million people, making Fourth Avenue an ideal location.


Watch this space!