The new CF Dining Hall “will be open and inviting, with more communal spaces that better reflect the tastes of our shoppers and community,” she says.
O’Neill says the food court will go from the current 19 establishments to 20 when the renovation is completed.
“We’re losing three or four of our existing clients to make room for more seating and we’re adding three or four new clients joining us,” she says. “The deals haven’t been signed yet so I can’t reveal who they are.”
Canadian design firm GH+A is designing the new space -- the company has led renovations at several of the country's leading malls.
The project is slated for completion over two phases to allow sections of the food court to remain in operation for the duration of the construction period. The first phase will start January 14 with the closure of the south half of the food court, with completion and opening scheduled for June. The second phase will start in June with the closure of the north side of the food court, with completion and opening scheduled for October.
The project will see the entire existing food court renovated, improving the aesthetics, design and capacity of the space. The renovation will include expanding and modernizing units, enhancing décor elements like tiling, upgrading furniture with communal tables and banquets, and the implementation of sorting stations to improve the overall experience for guests. The project will also include enhanced features including a revamp of the Centre's existing outdoor patio. The 30,000 square feet of redeveloped space will feature 835 seats.
Because of the redevelopment, a children’s carousel which has operated in the food court for many years is no longer there.
“The food court is almost 18 years old and it’s definitely time for a refresh and a reno of that space to make sure we continue that great experience for our guests that come to Chinook,” says O’Neill.
This redevelopment works with the newly-opened 61st Avenue S.W. pedestrian bridge over Macleod Trail that connects to Chinook Centre.
The Centre’s revamped dining space will have direct access to the new pedestrian bridge.
“With the catalyst of the pedestrian bridge, it’s probably going to become one of our number one entrances leading into the food court,” says O’Neill. “And we just renovated our food court washrooms. So it’s this sort of really nice timing. The renovation has been discussed and on the table for a number of years.
“With the food court being 18 years old, it’s just a great opportunity to re-invest and continue the re-investment in the Centre knowing that the Calgary economy and the Alberta economy will come back. We don’t have a problem with the food court because it’s still one of the highest-producing food courts in Canada but it’s definitely dated and we think this will be a great investment for not only the clients that remain in the food court and for the guests to come and experience a brand new area.”
The investment marks the latest major upgrade to the Centre’s food court since the last completed revitalization in 2000, says Cadillac Fairview.
“Dining is an essential aspect of the overall shopping centre experience and we are delighted to evolve the Centre’s food court into a signature CF Dining Hall where guests can enjoy culinary delights in a premium environment,” says Josh Thomson, Vice President, Development, Cadillac Fairview.
Beside the food court revitalization, Cadillac Fairview is investing an additional $4.5 million to the south portion of the Centre this year with a major focus on new tiling and railings.
From a retailer perspective, the big news for Chinook Centre comes February 22 with the official opening of the first Saks Fifth Avenue store in Calgary. It will be the third store in Canada and first in Western Canada.
“They’re hiring. Their store is looking amazing inside. My understanding is that their restaurant will not make the opening date but will be open by early Spring,” says O’Neill. “We’re very excited to have them open in just over a month from now.
“It will be a huge complement to Nordstrom, to Hudson’s Bay, to bringing in more clients into the Centre for overall shopping but it definitely helps I would say elevate the experience and elevate the shopping opportunities for people in Calgary.”
O’Neill says Chinook Centre has no other news right now on new retailers other than Saks Fifth Avenue coming to the mall.
“But I think with the opening of Saks, with the developments that are happening within the Centre and just within the city of Calgary, it’s definitely a place that we hope retailers will want to join us,” she says.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.