By Mario Toneguzzi
Commercial real estate giant Cadillac Fairview has developed a solid grip on the retail industry in Montreal over the years with its four major shopping centres.
Now the company will be investing millions of dollars in its properties to become even stronger in the marketplace.
Brian Salpeter, senior vice-president of development for Cadillac Fairview’s eastern portfolio office, said the company has the four “pre-eminent shopping centres in the Greater Montreal Area.”
“So we cover the entire territory and the Greater Montreal Area would include the Island of Montreal, Laval and the South Shore. We cover really the four corners.”
Salpeter said the retail sector in Montreal overall is doing quite well.
“There are disruptive forces and challenges to retail. We’re proponents that what you have to offer is a great experience and that includes a great experience at our centres. It includes offering consumers different reasons to go and different access,” he said.
“We continue to invest in our centres. There’s always going to be a place for top retail centres. The footprint of stores in some cases may be reduced where some retailers are going to be looking to perhaps have fewer stores and more flagship stores and because of the centres that we have, not just the location, but because how we invest in them and a big element is also the service we provide . . . sales in our centres continue to grow. Our retailers are continuing to have good success in our centres and it’s also allowing us different opportunities to add to the experience and really change things up a little bit in our centres.”
Cadillac Fairview’s four Montreal properties include:
CF Carrefour Laval which is the premier shopping centre on the North Shore. It has 1.2 million square feet with 235 stores. Anchor tenants are La Maison Simons and Hudson’s Bay. As of November, it’s sales per square foot was $878;
CF Fairview Pointe Claire has 143 stores in 865,000 square feet with anchors being Hudson’s Bay, Best Buy, and Homesense/Winners. Sales per square foot is $775. Cadillac Fairview is partner with Ivanhoe Cambridge in the mall;
CF Galeries d’Anjou is located in the east end and it has 145 stores in 925,000 square feet with anchors being La Maison Simons, Hudson’s Bay and Saks OFF 5TH. Sales per square foot is $632. Cadillac Fairview is partner with Ivanhoe Cambridge in this mall too; and
CF Promenades St-Bruno is the only enclosed superior regional mall on Montreal’s South Shore with 155 stores in 740,000 square feet with La Maison Simons and Hudson’s Bay as the anchors. Sales per square foot is $591.
Salpeter said Cadillac Fairview completed a full renovation and relocation of the dining hall a few years ago at Promenades St-Bruno which was an investment of about $50 million.
“We’ve really seen the benefits of doing that in terms of the quality of the mall, in terms of increased visitation and just the quality of the experience,” he said. “We’re now following that up with a few projects.”
Last year, it announced it was doing an expansion of the La Maison Simons store at Promenades St-Bruno. It is the brand’s only store in the South Shore of Montreal. It will expand into a two-level flagship store. That project will be about $30 million as Simons will be adding about 30,000 square feet for a total store of about 100,000 square feet.
“It will come in two phases. The first phase will be open in 2020 and then it will be fully complete in 2021,” said Salpeter.
A former Sears store in the shopping centre is being re-developed for a flagship Sports Experts store. The brand is already in the mall and it will be moving into the second level, taking 50,000 square feet. A Winners is also being brought into that former Sears space. Three new restaurants will also be added as well as another retailer which can’t be announced just yet. But it’s a Quebec-based retailer coming into the Montreal market for the first time. Investment for the former Sears space is about $30 million.
Sports Experts is looking to open in the spring of 2019. Winners should be opening in the fall. The restaurants will open in the fall or in the winter or spring of 2020.
Promenades St-Bruno also has one of the former Target store boxes and Salpeter said Cadillac Fairview likes to take its time to establish the right fit and what makes sense in those spaces.
“We’ve actually been quite patient with the Target space. We’ve been working on a very exciting project which is to do a real what we call the CF Marché des Promenades. This really is a celebration and a focus of food,” he said. “And when I say food, not just a food hall, because people talk about food very differently. People talk about food courts and dining halls and food halls. And food halls are very nice but food halls are, depending on your definition, perhaps a different type of food court experience. Perhaps some more local operators. Often there will be a component where you can have access to wine or beer. It’s a little bit different than a food court. But much more of a place where if you’re going just to eat.
“What we’re doing is creating really a destination for food. That will include restaurants. It will include a grocery store that is focused on natural foods and bio foods and organic foods. If you look at Quebec and the Eastern Townships . . . that really is the breadbasket of Quebec in terms of the offerings from great local cheeses and duck and maple product. What we’re doing is creating a space that will really be a platform for everything to come together in food. Lots of areas will say that but Montreal in fact is a food culture. People love food. They love friends. They love family. And a lot of it is shared with friends and family. So we’re really creating a destination where we’re bringing in all of these different uses which will be some places where you’ll eat, a lot of kiosks where you can get your speciality items, your specialty cheese shop, your specialty butcher. We have an agreement and we’re going to be opening up a local brew pub which will be brewing on the premises. With a whole exterior area as well where we can activate.”
The 65,000-square-foot indoor food market will include the outside area for events in about 10,000 square feet. The market will include three restaurants, a major grocery store, and a mix of 40 other retailers of different sizes. Plans are being worked on right now for the market. The target is to open in late 2020 or early 2021.
Total investment for that food market area is about $60 million.
Cadillac Fairview recently announced it was proceeding with a full $30-million renovation of CF Fairview Pointe Claire.
Previously it announced and it is advancing with its plans to bring Simons to the former Sears space in Pointe Claire. It will be taking the second and third level in the mall of the former Sears store.
“That brand new store on the West Island will serve that entire market and we’re relocating the dining hall from what is now on the second level down to the first level of the Sears store and adding some restaurants as well to create that vibrancy,” said Salpeter. “And that project is a $70-million project - just the Sears redevelopment.
“The project is very exciting just for the transformation and adding to the experience of CF Fairview Pointe Claire. But it also will be a catalyst for our plans which we continue to work on for the development towards the West which is to create the entire city centre of the West Island.”
A number of years ago Cadillac Fairview acquired a 50-acre site just to the west of Fairview Pointe Claire. Plans are to develop the downtown of the West Island which will be a major mixed-use development of over four million square feet of office, residential, entertainment with the shopping mall being a key amenity which will help service that new community. There’s also a major multi-nodal train and bus station as part of the new light rail transit system.
“We will really be completely transforming the West Island,” said Salpeter.
“The work that we’re now doing at Fairview Pointe Claire by re-doing the Sears, creating the food court, adding the restaurants, adding Simons, creating a beautiful facade, really ends up being the gateway towards the west for the rest of our development.”
In recent years, investments were completed for CF Carrefour Laval and CF Galeries d’Anjou.
There is a former Sears space at Galeries d’Anjou that Cadillac Fairview is looking at different options.
“Rather than just rush into something to backfill space we are taking our time to make sure that we backfill the space with something that is really quite particular and will fit for the property. That’s what we’re working on in Anjou and Laval as well where we always continue to invest,” said Salpeter.
The future for some of Cadillac Fairview's retail properties it owns in Montreal will include densification initiatives of residential units and possibly hotels.
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.