The fall of 2016 will be one of the most exciting times in the 50-plus-year history of Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre, with major new store openings on its west and east ends.
The west side will see a 120,000-square-foot former Sears store renovated to serve as the Canadian flagship location of a variety of retailers, including a 69,000-square-foot indoor and outdoor site for California-based luxury home furnishing brand Restoration Hardware.
“It will be a four-level flagship, beautiful southern estate-style store with courtyards and fountains and a patio,” said Yorkdale general manager Claire Santamaria.
“It will really give them an opportunity to showcase their full line of merchandise in a manner that’s obviously beautiful in the way Restoration Hardware does their set-ups and in a way that we haven’t seen in the GTA.”
More stores to be announced
Other stores that will open in this renovated wing will be announced in the coming months, and work is expected to be completed by November 2016.
Versace, Jimmy Choo, Moncler, BVLGARI and Mont Blanc entered Canada for the first time in 2014 at Yorkdale, and that trend will continue with the renovations and new expansion that will increase the size of the mall to two million square feet.
“We’re doing very, very well with our leasings,” said Santamaria. “There are first-to-market retailers and new global brands making their entry into the Canadian market.
“Our shoppers really know what they want and we tell all of our first-to-Canada retailers to really stock up their shelves when they open because many brands coming here have been long desired by our shoppers and there’s definitely an appetite for new retailers to make their entry into the market here at Yorkdale.”
A new $331-million, 300,000-square-foot east wing is being built to accommodate a three-level, 190,000-square-foot Nordstrom store and 30 additional boutiques, including Japanese fashion retailer UNIQLO and others to be named later. It’s slated to be finished in August 2016.
More than 250 shops and services
Yorkdale has more than 250 shops and services and had sales of $1,356 per square foot last year, up from $1,300 in 2014, which ranked it fourth in Canada according to a new Retail Insider report.
“We think retail in general is very competitive, whether it’s street retail or within a shopping centre environment,” said Santamaria. “Our focus on the customer experience and bringing in those first-to-market brands is really what’s going to set us apart. We’re very conscious of that and know that we can’t rest on our laurels and must continue to be what’s next.”
Yorkdale has undergone four major renovations since opening in 1964, with the most recent being the completion of a $220-million, 145,000-square-foot expansion in November 2012. This influx of new stores and more shoppers has created a demand for additional parking, and more than 2,000 spaces will become available in a new five-level underground lot.
Yorkdale is located at 3401 Dufferin St., off of Allen Road just south of Highway 401. Having a track record of success and the space and ability to create build-to-suit retail spaces for major tenants gives the mall an advantage over some downtown Toronto locations that are also after high-end retail brands.
“While I can’t comment on the rest of the country or even my GTA competitors, what I can say is that here at Yorkdale we’ve been seeing a lot of success with brands that are continually wanting to invest in themselves and have a keen interest in their customers,” said Santamaria.
Oxford and AIMCo ownership
Yorkdale is co-owned by Oxford Properties Group, the real estate arm of the OMERS Worldwide Group of Companies, and Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo).
Oxford’s global portfolio includes approximately 50 million square feet of office, retail, industrial, multi-family and hotel properties valued at more than $33 billion that it manages for itself and on behalf of its co-owners and investment partners.
AIMCo invests globally on behalf of 28 pension, endowment and government funds in Alberta, including the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund.