The face of White Oaks Mall is getting a makeover to match nearby new developments and the future construction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
The mall, built in stages over several decades, is being partially torn away.
“I never thought I would see the inside of White Oaks Mall like that,” stated Kelvin Taylor, a born and raised Londoner.
Once new construction is complete, the new section will feature two new restaurants with front-facing patios. A drawing shows one to be a new location for Beertown.
“This is going to be a big undertaking,” said construction supervisor Nathan Schreuders.
The area to be rebuilt faces Wellington Road between The Bay and Walmart.
The section has long featured sloping concrete walls in the brutalism style — typical of early 1970’s construction.
For some, the architecture is iconic and familiar, while to others it is just plain ugly.
CTV News noted Londoner Jamieson Ellis benefiting from the functionality of the design as he leaned against the slope waiting for a bus.
“It is convenient. It is comfy,” said Ellis.
Watching demolition nearby, Taylor reflected on his youth, telling CTV News, “When I was a little kid, I use to try to run up those walls. I never could succeed.”
Construction will be completed over two years. Mall officials say phase one will be finished by next spring. The second phase, where RBC is currently located, will be completed the following year.
“Obviously, it looks like a lot is going on as we take off the front face of the mall”, Schreuders explained. “So, we’re getting a lot of people taking a look and stopping by, especially with the mall heritage.”
Kamal Ismail and his wife Mary are among them. They say they are excited they will soon have a place to sit during their trips to the mall.
“It will be nice to see people have a place to go after the mall is closed. They can sit, have a drink, have coffee, have everything,” said Kamal.
Which Ellis says beats a sloped concrete wall, even if it is a place to rest while waiting for a bus. “A patio is going to be much better than a wall, I believe.”
Some, but not all, bus routes arriving at White Oaks have been impacted by the construction. Most have been moved to a temporary location near Mark’s Work Warehouse.