By Craig Patterson
McArthurGlen Designer Outlets at Vancouver International Airport has announced a significant expansion that breaks ground this week and is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2019. The award-winning outlet centre opened in July of 2015 and since then, it’s welcomed more than 10 million visitors.
The second-phase expansion will add 84,000 square feet and 35 new retailers to the centre, which currently spans about 240,000 square feet. The centre will remain open during construction. McArthurGlen Vancouver is unique in its design, featuring an open-air village style with piazzas, cobblestone walkways and a variety of historical-looking facades. The aesthetic inspiration for McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport is drawn from the regional architectural styles of Western Canada, according to the landlord, "combined with the sophisticated European style for which McArthurGlen is so renowned".
That includes design elements that are inspired by iconic Vancouver architecture such as the city's first post-office building that was built in 1937, the Vancouver Rowing Club (1911), and the distinctive brick facades associated with the city's historic Gastown district.
McArthurGlen says that over the past 32 months, the centre has seen consistent growth and increased foot traffic — and it got off to a strong start in 2015 when the centre welcomed over 170,000 visitors on its opening weekend. The centre broke records and has received several accolades including the prestigious Best New Development at the ICSC Canadian Shopping Centre Awards, the NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Award of Excellence for Retail Development and the prestigious MAPIC Award for Best Outlet Center.
The centre currently features more than 70 retailers including the likes of Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Tumi, Giorgio Armani and recent additions include Kate Spade, Sandro and Maje — and in the summer, we profiled bag brand Lipault Paris, which opened its first store in North America at the centre. While the centre is positioned as a ‘luxury outlet centre’, its tenant mix ranges from the affordable (such as Sketchers, Nike and the Gap) to higher end with brands such as Ports 1961 and Hugo Boss, with an expansive mix of contemporary brands.
Robert Thurlow, General Manager of McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport, noted that the success of the centre is a result of a mix of locals and tourists. “We have seen tremendous support from local communities and tourists from all over the world and we’re proud of our growing list of awards and various in-centre events and activities. As one of Canada’s best performing malls, we are excited to expand our existing offer, elevating the retail experience for our guests and brand partners,” he said.
“Shopping, Chinese restaurants, visiting Steveston – those are the top three things visitors want to do while in Richmond,” said Bruce Okabe, CEO of Tourism Richmond — Richmond includes a mix of retail that includes Asian-themed malls, independent retailers, and a regional shopping centre (CF Richmond Centre) that features a more mainstream mix as well as a Hudson’s Bay anchor.
Vancouver International Airport benefits financially from having the McArthurGlen Outlet on-site. “The Designer Outlet Centre not only creates jobs and encourages tourism for our local community, it is one of the ways we look at generating revenue outside of airport operations with the goal of keeping costs for our passengers and airlines low. This innovative business model enables us to continue building YVR as a world-class connecting hub,” said Scott Norris, Vice President, Commercial Development, Vancouver Airport Authority.
McArthurGlen Designer Outlets in Vancouver is located near Templeton Station on the Canada Line Skytrain route, and is also accessible by car — being beside the airport has made the centre an attraction for tourists.
In 2015 when we first reported on the centre, plans were said to include a second-phase expansion that would add another 140,000 square feet, with 150 retailers spanning both phases. A spokesperson for McArthurGlen told Daily Hive that a decision was recently made to split the remaining expansion space into two further phases, and that there is no timeline for when the third phase could occur.
McArthurGlen, based in London, UK, is a publicly traded company that develops and manages designer outlet malls. The Vancouver centre is currently its only location in North America — other locations are in the UK and continental Europe. Over the next three years, McArthurGlen plans to add another 1.6 million square feet of retail space to its 24-centre portfolio.