Toronto’s changing landscape

THE WEST END’S latest hangout, Stackt Market, is found within reimagined shipping containers.



photography by Nikki Wesley Photography

SOUTH OF THE URBAN DEVELOPMENT boom of King Street West, a former parking lot at Bathurst and Front Streets has become the neighbourhood’s newest modernist hangout.

The new hot spot – Stackt Market – is not easy to label. Just opened in April, it’s made up of 120 used and new shipping containers; the dark grey boxes painted, piled and styled, adding a human-scale addition among numerous high rises.

Designed by LGA Architectural Partners and constructed by Ellis Don, the metal containers provide 30,000 square feet of commercial space enhanced with windows and retractable glass doors, surrounded by grassy areas, container gardens and commissioned murals, drawing the curious from near and far.

Four-and-a-half years ago Matt Rubinoff regularly walked by this barren 100,000 square foot space. Owned by the City of Toronto, the plot of land is destined to become a park but it’s in remediation for its former life as the site of an iron smelting plant, closed in the 1980s.

As one of a growing population of residents calling the King West area home, Rubinoff was inspired to create something for his neighbourhood, and made a proposal to the city to create a new community hub. “I could see the growing need for the community to engage and connect.” Thanks to past travel, Rubinoff had seen how these industrial creations had been retrofitted into hotels, housing and showrooms and that they can easily be assembled, altered and dismantled.

Stackt Market is not the first to transform shipping containers in Toronto: in 2010, Scadding Court Community Centre opened Market 707, a street food and retail market located at Dundas & Bathurst. Now they’ve become a Stackt partner, overseeing the on-site greenhouse and the outdoor community garden. Another neighbourhood connection has Stackt hiring maintenance workers from Fort York Residence, a nearby shelter.

What to expect when visiting Stackt Market? It’s a little bit of everything from dining to shopping, art to exercise – and it’s evolving.

Early adopters of Stackt include Belgian Moon Brewery, offering four brews on tap brewed on-site; plant-based butcher YamChops; Jomo Studio featuring DIY workshops; sustainable prescription eyewear from Dresden Vision and sweet treats from Hamilton-export Donut Monster. Fair trade and organic java is served daily from Reunion Coffee Roasters. Adidas is partnered with Flow Alkaline Spring Water to offer complimentary strength classes while BMO hosts a speaker series at its newest branch.

Rubinoff’s goal for Stackt was not like typical mixed-used spaces; he didn’t want to populate the market with a static list of tenants. There are areas that can be rented for events, four spaces dedicated to pop-up endeavours of 45 days or less. They have welcomed marketing projects like The Endy Lodge, where visitors can try out a mattress (and Instagram the relaxing effects) as well as short-term partnerships with annual events like The Stop Night Market and hosting an e-sports tournament with NXNE. Stackt also includes retail studios like Carmel Floral and Inkbox Tattoos, Canadian-designed furniture at COFO Design, fashion from Sense of Independence and Ellie Mae and a mini-outlet of Indigo Books.

Opening in June, the Pavilion will offer another unconventional option at Stackt: a 5,000 square-foot space that will be a kitchen/dining space, hosting a schedule of local chefs for short-term pop-ups as well as cooking classes. But it doesn’t stop there – kids programming, outdoor movie screenings, community partnerships and programs – Stackt aims to become embedded with Toronto’s King West neighbourhood and a destination for locals and visitors. Easily accessible by TTC, there’s also a rarity for downtown Toronto: on-site parking.

For more info:



The number of new and used shipping containers used in construction.


Square-feet of commercial/retail space.


Square-foot property.


The number of retailers, with a few rotating pop-up locations.


Onsite parking spots.


Square-feet dedicated to chefs and local food (Pavilion, opening June).

Did you know there are 12 hotels across the globe constructed from shipping containers?

There are shipping container markets popping up in places including London Shoreditch (Boxpark), two under construction in Warsaw, Poland and El Paso, Texas. The largest is Common Ground in Seoul, South Korea, constructed of 200 containers.

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