By Craig Patterson
Cadillac Fairview has announced that it will partner to invest about $80-million into redeveloping parts of Toronto’s CF Fairview Mall, including transforming the mall’s former Sears space as well as improving pedestrian access to a nearby subway station. Longer-term plans include the addition of residential towers, offices and a hotel along the property’s periphery. It’s part of a trend as landlords seek to obtain maximum value from real estate in cities where space is at a premium.
Cadillac Fairview partnered with TD Greystone Asset Management on the initiative, which will see about 230,000 square feet of retail space repurposed for new retailers as well as a row of restaurants. That includes the mall’s former Sears space, which spans just under 150,000 square feet on two floors.
As part of the redevelopment, which begins this month and is expected to be completed in 2023, pedestrian access to the nearby Don Mills subway station will see substantial improvements that is expected to further drive foot traffic while enhancing the overall visitor experience.
The $80-million investment follows last year’s $10-million investment into CF Fairview Mall’s food court, which saw additional seating and restaurants added.
Longer-term plans for CF Fairview mall could include new residential towers as well as office space and even a hotel on the periphery of the property. Cadillac Fairview and TD Greystone are in discussions with the City of Toronto about a rezoning of the property to accommodate additional density on the well-located property, which is on a subway line as well as accessed from the busy 401 Freeway as well as highway 404.
Furthermore, new community benefits could be created as part of the site intensification, including new parks, community spaces and amenities. Various housing options and improved sidewalks and landscaping would enhance the overall pedestrian experience as well as connectivity to the property overall. Once the rezoning application has been accepted for review by the city, public information meetings will be held to provide more information about these changes as part of the rezoning process, according to Cadillac Fairview.
"This area is undergoing many changes which reflect peoples' desire to work, live, shop and dine in a dynamic, transit-connected mixed-use community," said Wayne Barwise, Executive Vice President of Development, Cadillac Fairview. "Our redevelopment plan is about diversifying CF Fairview Mall and the surrounding land so we can continue to offer a vibrant destination for people to come together and enjoy."
"We are excited to be involved in the redevelopment of CF Fairview Mall, one of Canada's premiere mall and shopping destinations in Toronto. The mall's strategic proximity to transit and nearby residential neighbourhoods is ideal for creating a unique experiential and service-oriented retail environment," said Jeff Tripp, Managing Director, Real Estate Investments, TD Greystone.
CF Fairview Mall was built in 1970 and at the time, the area’s population was sparse. The Toronto of today is a very different place. Thousands are moving into the city annually as density increases, fuelled by a strong economy that includes one of the world’s fastest-growing tech centres. The area around CF Fairview Mall also continues to densify, including along the TTC Line 4 which runs along Sheppard Street.
The shopping centre is also one of Canada’s most productive in terms of annual sales per square foot, according to Retail Council of Canada’s latest Canadian Shopping Centre Study. It’s also one of the region’s busiest, with an estimated 13-million annual visitors. Cadillac Fairview says CF Fairview Mall contributes approximately $14-million to the city via property taxes.
Cadillac Fairview was said to have considered several options to repurpose CF Fairview Mall’s Sears space in the past, which was vacated by Sears in 2017. Last year when Indigo closed its Chapters store at nearby Bayview Village, a note on the door said that it would be relocating into CF Fairview Mall, with many expecting it to occupy part of CF Fairview’s Sears space which at that time was vacant. As well, when Saks Fifth Avenue entered Canada in 2016, rumour had it that the Sears space at CF Fairview Mall could have become Toronto’s third Saks location, following the opening of a flagship in the Hudson’s Bay building at CF Toronto Eaton Centre as well as at CF Sherway Gardens.
As land prices continue to soar, landlords are seeking to increase density on mall properties in order to extract the most value possible. Several shopping centres across Canada will be seeing intensification, including several in the Toronto area. Nearby Bayview Village will see a transformation that will include adding residential towers, and further west the Yorkdale Shopping Centre is also proposing a substantial redevelopment that could include residential, offices and a hotel. Cadillac Fairview’s CF Shops at Don Mills, about four kilometres from CF Fairview Mall, also continues to see on-site densification that includes new residential towers.
And while intensification appears to be a relatively new thing for Canadian shopping centre landlords, Cadillac Fairview started the trend in the 1970’s with its CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Toronto’s downtown core. As part of the mall’s initial construction in 1977, the One Dundas West office building opened adjacent. That was followed in 1982 with the opening of the Cadillac Fairview Tower at 20 Queen Street West, and subsequently in the 1992 opening of the 250 Yonge Street office tower.
Most recently in 2014, Cadillac Fairview acquired the Hudson’s Bay complex located on the other side of Queen Street, which includes an office tower that was completed in 1969 and is in the process of being renovated. The same Hudson’s Bay complex houses flagship Hudson’s Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue stores. CF Toronto Eaton Centre is North America’s busiest shopping centre with nearly 54-million annual visitors, according to Retail Council of Canada’s Canadian Shopping Centre Study.
Over the past five years, Canadian shopping centre landlords have invested more money into malls than at any time in Canadian history. The retail industry is transforming as consumers seek out ‘experiences’ while e-commerce sales continue to rise. What has resulted are some exceptional shopping centres across the country, with plenty of more investment planned as landlords compete for customers in an effort to drive traffic and retail sales.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: firstname.lastname@example.org