TORONTO - RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust says it will turn some of the retail shopping centres in its portfolio into mixed-use communities that have the potential for more than 20,000 residences in six major Canadian markets.

The announcement of the RioCan Living brand on Monday formalizes the real estate trust's efforts to address the residential market.

It says construction has started or will soon begin on about 2,800 units -- including about 2,100 rentals and 700 condos.

Six of the eight initial projects are in Toronto, while one is in Ottawa and another is in Calgary.

The Toronto properties include locations in the Yonge and Eglinton area as well as the Front and Spadina area, both prominent residential and commercial areas under redevelopment by various companies.

The Ottawa site is at the Gloucester Silver City Shopping Centre and the Calgary project is at Brentwood Village.