First Capital portfolio grows to 111 retails centres
Ivanhoe Cambridge to open three more Canadian Mills Centres
New Don Mills Centre contruction to start spring 2006
Informative. Interesting. Excellent. These are just a few words used to describe
the presentations at Toronto Commercial Real Estate Women's (CREW) recent "Growth & Development in Retail
Properties" seminar. A spectacular view of the Toronto waterfront from the 53rd Floor of the TD Centre served as a dramatic backdrop for a panel of women professionals to talk about their experiences with three very different retail projects to over 85 attendees – torontocrew.org.
Moderated by CREW President Mary
Mowbray, Vice President of Colliers International, the panel featured Monique Dubord, Vice President of Leasing for
First Capital Realty Inc., Teresa Spataro, Ivanhoe Cambridge's Director of
Leasing for Vaughan Mills, and Anne Morash, Cadillac Fairview Corporation
Limited's Vice President of Development.
Monique Dubord kicked off the presentations by describing First Capital Realty's extraordinary growth as a publically owned Canadian real estate company that today owns a portfolio of 111 shopping centres across Canada.
Dubord described the challenges of re-developing retail centres: 'de-leasing' and relocating existing retailers and adding new ones to a busy siteplan along with negotiating sensetive covenents pertaining to store merchandise. She used First Capitals North Whitby's Brooklin Town Centre and the Strandherd Crossing in Ottawa as examples. She also described the experience of a greenfield development like Royal Oak in Northwest Calgary, where there were no homes in sight at construction start and by completion it was in the midst of a new suburb.
When asked about the challenges faced by First Capital Realty, Dubord noted that it was important "never to lose sight of being strategic in our business plan."
Teresa Spataro, Ivanhoe Cambridge's Director of
Leasing for Vaughan Mills
The next panelist to present was Teresa Spataro, who provided an overview of the development of the acclaimed Vaughan Mills Centre, launched on November 4, 2004, a partnership between Ivanhoe Cambridge – ivanhoecambridge.com – and the U.S. based Mills Corporation – millscorp.com.
Located on a 200-acre site north of Toronto at Highway 400 and Rutherford Road, Vaughan Mills was the first regional mall to open in Canada in 14 years. It is 1.2 million square feet described as a "super-regional" centre with 16 anchor stores, 200 specialty stores and nine retail categories represented. Vaughn Mills mimics the 'Outlet Mall' format typical of Mills Corporation shopping centres in the U.S. but new to Canada.
Spataro described other features of the Vaughan Mills unique to the Canadian retail market. The Centre has a full-time tourism co-ordinator who organizes motor coach tours to the mall from the U.S., Canada, and as far away as Mexico . As a result of its 'tourism program', Vaughan Mills is soon to be designated a tourist destination by the Province of Ontario. The malls connection with the Mills Corporation has also facilitated the attraction of several new American retailers to Canada.
Already Vaughan Mills is proving to be a top performing shopping centre in the Mills Corporation portfolio. Its suceess is spurring development of three new Canadian Mills shopping centres (all with Ivanhoe Cambridge). At this time Calgary, Vancouver, and Montreal are being considered as potential markets with an announcement expected in the next six months.
Anne Morash, Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited's Vice President of Development
In the wake of a video montage that capped off the Vaughan Mills presentation, Anne Morash introduced her topic with "I'm here to talk about the other Mills – Don Mills". She went on to note that since its construction in 1955, the Toronto Don Mills Centre had seen many incarnations, even the designation in 1961 as Canada's largest shopping centre. Morash's presentation then focussed on how Cadillac Fairview – cadillacfairview.com – is breathing new life into an aging Don Mill Centre with a mixed-use re-development (in a partnership with FRAM Building Group) that would see introduction of a new residential neighbourhood integrated into an enhanced shopping centre.
As inspiration for the Shopping Centre design she visited retail sites in Arizona and California. The design team also purposely toured colder locations in the depths of winter like Legacy Village in Ohio to discover ideas like heated sidewalks and strategic building placement.
Morash explained how the Don Mills Centre is the kind of project that calls for extensive community consultation. "People feel a close connection to the Don Mills Centre so we were interested in what they have to say," she noted. She described the multiple open houses that were held to solicit public opinion on the project and referenced a website posted to track the projects progress – donmillscentre2005.com.
After extensive research, multiple designs changes and public consultation, the new Don Mills Centre plan has been submitted to the City of Toronto for Official Plan amendment and other planning changes. City approval is expected by late 2005 allowing for a Spring 2006 construction start and opening in Summer 2008
Toronto CREW is part of a 6,000 member network.
Bringing women in commercial real estate together is an important element of CREW's mandate. CREW Toronto is part of a larger 6000 member CREW Network – crewnetwork.org – in 51 major markets across North America that was started in the 1980s. Toronto CREW provides its members with regular educational seminars, lunches, and even golfing opportunities.
With a vision "to be the association of choice
for professionals representing all disciplines of commercial real estate," Toronto CREW's membership criteria requires individuals to have at least
five years' experience in a commercial real estate category, or 18 months in
real estate and 5 years or more in another industry at the VP level or
above. Since its membership includes not only real estate professionals but
also designers, architects and others, CREW provides a good opportunity to
discuss industry issues informally and share information across these
Its connection to the larger American CREW Network means that this
sharing can also be international. With many lively conversations around
the room after this presentation, CREW's mandate "to advance the success of
women in commercial real estate" was clearly being put in action.
Toronto CREW – torontocrew.org – was established 9 years ago and has
proven to be one of the fastest growing real estate organizations in
Canada. CREW de Montreal – crewmontreal.com – was established in 2003, and Vancouver CREW was
launched in February 2005.