The Amazing Transformation of Canadian Shopping Malls

Written by Posted On Monday, 03 February 2020 05:30
Oxford Properties Group plans to build the largest mixed-use development in Canadian history. Oxford Properties Group plans to build the largest mixed-use development in Canadian history.

Canadian shopping centres have had a rough go in recent years, as aging infrastructure, competition from online shopping and the departure of major retailers including Target and Sears Canada have presented challenges. But developers across the country are responding by turning massive mall parking lots into mixed-use developments to bring people back to the mall.

In Mississauga, Ont., Oxford Properties recently announced that its Square One Shopping Centre will anchor the largest mixed-use development in Canadian history.

The company says 130 acres, mostly parking lots, will be transformed into 18 million square feet of residential and commercial space in 37 towers. It will include 18,000 units, more than half of them rental properties.

Ground-breaking for the first two towers will take place this summer, with an additional 5,000 units to be launched within five to seven years. The entire project is “a multi-phase, multi-decade project,” the company says.

“Square One District is a bold vision to repurpose underutilized land in the heart of downtown Mississauga to create an entirely new mixed-use urban community,” says Eric Plesman, executive vice president of Oxford Properties. “Our ambition is to build a community more than 35,000 people will be proud to call home. This new community will support employment with world-class office space to help businesses grow while maximizing the positive impact of new transit being developed in Mississauga. It will be a place where business, life and leisure can come together as one.”

Square One Shopping Centre recently ranked seventh in a list of the top shopping centres in Canada by sales per square foot. It ranked fifth in the country for number of annual visitors, according to the Retail Council of Canada.

Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre is the No. 1 mall in sales per square foot, with almost $2 billion in annual sales. It too has a proposal for mixed-use site intensification. The plans include 7.3 million square feet of space, including food and beverage, retail, residential, office and a hotel. There are also plans for a park on the site.

“The exit of anchor tenants such as Sears Canada and Target has provided landlords with the opportunity to capitalize on acres of under-utilized real estate,” says the Retail Council of Canada in its Canadian Shopping Centre Study 2019. “Covenants held by some of these core retailers made it, at times, challenging for landlords to make sweeping changes. The elimination of such agreements has unlocked an unprecedented amount of value that will result in the transformation of many shopping malls.”

At Park Royal in West Vancouver, two new residential buildings are to be added to the site. The mall ranked No. 4 in productivity, despite not making the top 10 busiest malls in Canada. Several multi-family residential buildings are also planned for the CF Richmond Centre in Richmond, B.C.

In Burnaby, B.C., Metropolis at Metrotown is working on a master plan for the 38-acre site that will “eventually see new high rises, plazas, public parks and streets built to replace the existing shopping centre,” says the Retail Council of Canada report. It says developer Ivanhoe Cambridge is planning a phased rollout but it won’t begin for at lease 10 years.

Another mall that is being completely replaced is Toronto’s Galleria Mall, where a new community centre, a daycare and two mixed-use towers are going up. Demolition of the mall has begun. It will be replaced with eight mixed-use towers with 2,846 condominium units. There will also be new office and retail space.

Almost all of the Toronto-area suburban malls have some plans for redevelopment, says the report.

Bayview Village’s parking lots will be replaced with five new residential/commercial buildings ranging from five to 33 storeys. Coverdale Mall in Etobicoke is on a 32-acre site that may include “generational” residential buildings, parks, arts and culture programing and fitness and wellness facilities. At another Etobicoke mall, CF Sherway Gardens, there are plans to build eight residential towers, along with office space and a hotel.

The Scarborough Town Centre hopes to build underground parking and then add 36 towers, ranging from 20 to 65 storeys, on its 99-acre site. “This new construction will bring thousands of residents and workers to the area, which could become one of the most populous urban cores in Canada,” says the Retail Council of Canada report.

“Smart landlords understand the need for mixed-use retail complexes, connecting digital driven customers and offering the ultimate ‘single channel’ where consumers can get whatever they want, how and when they want it,” says the report. “And, while shopping centres have traditionally been a suburban phenomenon, many are becoming new amenity-rich ‘urban’ hubs that will anchor growing downtown neighbourhoods.”

The CF Toronto Eaton Centre has more visitors than any other mall in North America (53 million per year). It also ranks third on the productivity list. Four of the top 10 shopping centres in Canada are in downtown cores.

“This demonstrates the continued strength of Canada’s downtowns when compared to cities in the United States,” says the report.


Rate this item
(1 Vote)
Jim Adair

Jim Adair has been writing about Canadian real estate, home building and renovation issues for more than 40 years. He is the former editor of Canada’s leading trade magazine for real estate professionals, as well as several home building, décor and renovation titles. You can contact him at [email protected]

Realty Times

From buying and selling advice for consumers to money-making tips for Agents, our content, updated daily, has made Realty Times® a must-read, and see, for anyone involved in Real Estate.