By Mario Toneguzzi
Brian O’Hoski, general manager of Rideau Centre, said the shopping centre currently has nine locations that are being renovated to add new retailers which include Aesop, Levi’s, Swatch, Michael Hill, New Balance, luxury watch brand Omega (by Monaco Jewellers), Change Lingerie, Lacoste and Miniso. The stores are expected to open within the next month.
“In the past year or so for us we’ve been fortunate. We’re still kind of riding the wave of quite a successful redevelopment here. It’s been pretty good for us. We’ve been able to differentiate, attract new retail. Obviously facing some of the same hardships that a lot of our counterparts are facing with some of the (retail) bankruptcies just recently, but we’ve done quite well here. We’re still really kind of riding that wave of success from a redevelopment,” said O’Hoski.
“We were very early in buying back the Sears here to create the Nordstrom. So we haven’t had to fill any major holes.”
The $360-million redevelopment took two to three years with an opening in summer 2016 and included the second Nordstrom in Canada, a redesigned dining hall, a four-level expansion that included the two-level Simons, Zara, H&M. There was also a full mall refresh of tile and railing.
Additions of retailers such as Tiffany & Co., Davids Footwear and Bailey Nelson since 2016 have also added to the consumer experience in the nation’s capital.
According to the recent Canadian Shopping Centre Study 2018 by the Retail Council of Canada, Rideau Centre, which is just over one million square feet with about 170 stores, had an annual visitor count of 24.6 million people.
It is also listed as the 10th most productive shopping centre in Canada with sales per square foot of $1,017 which is an increase of 3.04 per cent from the year before.
What makes Rideau Centre so successful and an attraction for shoppers?
“There’s a lot to that question. Obviously we’re a shopping centre and we’re a great home for retailers. The differentiated retail mix is an absolutely critical part of that answer. We’ve got the one and only of a lot of these retailers in Ottawa. We’ve got the only Harry Rosen, the only Nordstrom, the only Simons. There’s a lot of uniqueness here in terms of shopping,” said O’Hoski.
“Other than that it’s a vibrant destination. We’re right downtown. You can skate along the Rideau Canal. We’re a block from Parliament Hill. We’re a block from the Byward Market. We’re attached to the Hudson’s Bay store. It’s a very vibrant area we’re in and we’re a huge part of that with the amenities and the experiences that we offer throughout the shopping centre. It’s a big draw. Attached to the Westin Hotel and the Shaw Centre as well. We’ve got all sorts of people coming here for other things that end up spilling into the retail world.”
It also has an 8,000-square-foot Farm Boy grocery store which opened in December 2017.
“I see us continuing to evolve the retail mix. We’ve recently added on Rideau Street a very successful Joey Rideau Centre restaurant. We just opened Score Pizza and Paramount Find Foods. On the other corner, there’s a Farm Boy grocery store. The long-awaited, overdue light transit that’s happening in Ottawa has a station stop within Rideau. So we’re waiting for that to open to see what that does to human behaviour. How that changes patterns and who else gets more accessibility to our shopping centre. That’s going to start to change things,” said O’Hoski.
“There is some development opportunity here. We do have more land and more parcels. So longer term, much more future thinking, there is development opportunity on the site as well.”
Many Cadillac Fairview properties in Canada have looked at mixed-use developments on their shopping centre sites to include office and residential use.
Could that also be in the cards for Rideau Centre in the future?
“Density forms part of our strategic future as a company. We’re doing this across the board and there’s certainly opportunity here as well but I don’t have timing or any details but we do have the capacity and capability for that,” added O’Hoski.
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: email@example.com.