October 2016

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OCTOBER 2016 | 75 Yorkdale Shopping Centre – East Expansion RENDERINGS + PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OXFORD PROPERTIES GROUP / AIMCO. Yorkdale Shopping Centre – East Expansion by PETER STENNING I n late August, North Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre general manager Claire Santamaria was noticeably excited about the October 18 opening of the mall's four-storey eastern expansion. At 300,000 square feet, it would bring the total square footage to two million and boost Yorkdale's reputation as one of Canada's leading shopping destinations with the country's highest sales. Santamaria believes the expansion heralds a new era in the evolution of the retail landscape. "For one thing, it allowed us to offer new tenant Nordstrom a brand new building, which is unique in this country; normally, Nordstrom renovates existing spaces," she says. "This $331-million investment was designed precisely to attract new shoppers seeking exceptional choice." Elements such as white natural limestone tile, an abundance of exterior glazing, extra wide walkways and high ceilings make Yorkdale one of the more noteworthy retail expansions of late. "The logistics were massive, but they inspired us to put our heart and soul into creating the best outcome for the owners, Oxford Properties Group," says Christopher Brown, managing director on behalf of MMC International Architects Ltd. Yorkdale is no stranger to upgrades. Built in 1964, it underwent a huge renovation in 1999 based on an MMC design. "We evolved the mall into what is today a hallmark that would inform the 2016 expansion," says Brown. "Essentially, Yorkdale's shopping experience is that of a high street like you'd find in Europe, with two or three-level retail stores providing a sense that you're outside – when of course you're not." In 2005 came a $110-million expansion that added another 50 stores, increased the mall to over 1.4-million square feet and adorned the east wing with a 60-foot-high, 300-foot-long glass atrium. "The atrium was considered unconventional, but it enhanced the high street concept even further," says Brown. More importantly from a business viewpoint, these expansions enabled Yorkdale to attract top luxury brands, including Holt Renfrew, Tiffany & Co., Armani Exchange and Michael Kors. Nordstrom signed on as a key tenant during the initial stages of the east expansion, and MMC "worked with them on issues such as placement and orientation within the new space," according to Brown. "We were intermediaries in that any new Nordstrom contains a huge number of elements, and we had to explain to their architects what elements the City of Toronto would approve – and determine alternatives when approval was denied." Nordstrom would ultimately take up 188,000-square-feet of space. Fortunately, the city fathers shared MMC and Oxford's vision of how the exterior of the expansion should appear. "They were looking for lively streetscapes and animation instead of boxes," says Brown. "There's an elevated subway line and thoroughfare that runs parallel to the expansion, and we viewed this as an opportunity to create a huge, three-level entrance and atrium that would allow passersby to see right into the mall – something that would be particularly attractive at night." As for the limestone floors, Brown explains, "Such materials are not fashion sensitive, and they allow the tenants to be more expressive in their presentation within the mall. They basically had free reign to choose the materials that would suit the inside of their stores the best – as long as the materials were in keeping with the quality standards for which Yorkdale has become famous." And while parking may not seem a particularly sexy component of a retail

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