Yorkdale Shopping Centre
Yorkdale Shopping Centre, or simply Yorkdale, is a major retail shopping mall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Yorkdale is one of the largest shopping malls in the country and has the highest sales per unit area of any mall in Canada. It surpasses Vancouver's Pacific Centre, with current merchandise sales levels at roughly CA$1,905/square foot. At 18 million annual visitors, it is one of the country's busiest malls. The mall contains over 250 stores, including many luxury retailers. Many international companies have opened their first retail locations in Canada at Yorkdale.
The north entrance in 2012
|Location||3401 Dufferin Street|
|Opening date||February 26, 1964|
|Architect||John Graham Jr.|
|No. of stores and services||250|
|No. of anchor tenants||6|
|Total retail floor area||1,845,725 sq ft (171,473.5 m2)|
|No. of floors||2 (main level for retail, underground level for shipping/receiving, food court is on 2nd/3rd floors, The Bay and Restoration Hardware occupy four floors in their respective anchor spaces)|
|Public transit access|
Yorkdale is currently owned by a joint venture between the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System through its subsidiary Oxford Properties Group and the Alberta Investment Management Corporation. It is located several kilometres northwest of downtown Toronto at the interchange of Highway 401 and Allen Road, adjacent to the Yorkdale subway station in the former city of North York.
Construction and design
In the 1950s, the department store chain T. Eaton & Co. bought a 40-hectare (99-acre) site at Dufferin Street and Highway 401 for a new massive, suburban location. In 1958, rival department store chain Simpson's purchased a 8-hectare (20-acre) site to the east and the plan to build the complex was announced that year. Design of the mall was given to the Seattle firm of John Graham Consultants, except for the Simpson's store, designed by John Andrews of John B. Parkin Associates. Howard Lesser was the planning and development consultant. Using Lesser's market research, the developers determined how much floor space to give up to each category of retailer, and chose retailers who would appeal to a broad range of shoppers.
The mall opened on February 26, 1964, under the ownership of the Trizec Corporation. Its gross leasable area (GLA) was over 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2), by far the biggest in Canada at the time. It was also one of the largest shopping centres in the world. When it opened, Yorkdale was the first Canadian mall to include two major department stores: Simpson's and Eaton's, under the same roof. Built at a cost of CA$40 million, Yorkdale was the first major suburban mall constructed in Toronto. Located at the edge of the urbanized city, the new shopping centre was dependent on the construction of the Spadina Expressway, later renamed Allen Road, as the developers would not proceed until the freeway was approved for construction.
The mall was constructed with a novel system for its retailers to receive merchandise. While other Canadian shopping centres had their receiving doors located at the back side, Yorkdale was constructed with a one-way, two-laned road for trucks running beneath the centre that leads directly to retailers' basement storages. The design of the mall included a 60-foot (18 m) tall atrium, 40-foot (12 m) wide halls and 27-foot (8.2 m) tall ceilings. The corridors still retain this look and feel although renovations in 2006 replaced the ceilings, windows, floors and skylights.
Expansions and renovations
The Universal Man statue in the west parking lot was relocated from the base of the CN Tower to accommodate the construction of the Rogers Centre (then known as SkyDome) in 1987 and relocated to Yorkdale in 1994.
In 1999, Yorkdale completed a major overhaul, adding a Rainforest Café restaurant, a Famous Players SilverCity movie theatre (which has since been taken over by Cineplex Entertainment), and an Indigo Books and Music store on the north side of the mall, facing Highway 401.
In 2005, a $60 million expansion on the former site of its Eaton's department store increased the size of Yorkdale to 1,404,646 sq ft (130,495.9 m2), and increased the number of stores from about 210 to 260. A highlight of this expansion was the construction of a 60-foot (18 m) high glass atrium running 300 feet (91 m) in length, which hangs from an exterior support structure. The expansion added Old Navy, Zara, H&M, and Home Outfitters as sub-anchors. This gave Yorkdale the title of the third largest mall in Ontario after Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga and Toronto Eaton Centre, ahead of Scarborough Town Centre in terms of retail floor space.
The renovation project continued into 2006 and 2007. This renovation matched the earlier sections of the mall to the style of the 2005 expansion. Key elements of this project included new public washrooms, opening of a Moxie's Grill & Bar restaurant, and new sliding automatic doors at all entrances. An advertising campaign, branded as "Change It Up!" was launched in conjunction with the renovation and redevelopment, winning a MAXI Award from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in 2007.
In January 2011, Yorkdale announced another expansion, adding another 145,000 sq ft (13,500 m2), sufficient for 40 store fronts, and 800 underground parking spaces. This new wing took the space of the southwest parking lot. The expansion also relocated and doubled the number of seats at the food court, improved public access, and landscaped portions of the property. The expansion, costing $35 million, was opened in the summer of 2012, and completed in November 2012. The existing food court was relocated to a new location on the third level of the former Eaton's department store. The new food court, named "Dine on 3", covers 45,000 sq ft (4,200 m2) over two floors and features 18 different eateries, including A&W, KFC, New York Fries and Subway. The area of the former food court was redeveloped into a new wing, which housed new stores including a Microsoft Store, DavidsTea, and a Tesla showroom, as well as a larger Apple Store. The new parking garage was built below the wing.
In June 2013, Sears Canada announced the closing of their store at Yorkdale. The former Sears space is now used for Sporting Life and Restoration Hardware (branded as RH), both opened on October 19, 2017.
In April 2013, Yorkdale announced a $330 million expansion, which would add an additional 298,000 sq ft (27,700 m2) of retail, featuring a three-level 188,000 sq ft (17,500 m2) Nordstrom store and a Uniqlo store. This project involved the closure of the Rainforest Café (at Yorkdale since 1999), as well as the demolition of the multi-level parking garage at the southeast of the complex bordering Yorkdale Road. The project began in January 2014 and the new wing opened for business in late 2016. Rainforest Café has since been replaced with an expansion of Sport Chek.
Milestones Grill and Bar, located near Hudson's Bay was closed in 2016. It was then announced that American restaurant The Cheesecake Factory would open its first Canadian location in the mall. The location was renovated and expanded to accommodate the new restaurant and it opened to the public in November 2017. As of 2019, the restaurant still experiences wait times up to three hours.
In 2017, Oxford Properties submitted an application to the City of Toronto for a block zoning plan to guide future development of the site. In the first phase, new buildings would be constructed along the Dufferin Avenue frontage, incorporating a boutique hotel, a cinema and new retail, with future phases being built on the north parking lot, to incorporate residential and office uses. In March 2019, the City launched a study on the re-development of the parking lots and other areas of the mall property to improve traffic as well as mixed-use for the site to include residential and retail use. If approved, the re-development would result in parking being moved underground. However, some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed to the development.
Two stabbings occurred at the mall in 2008. In the first half of 2013, two shootings occurred at the mall. The first one took place in the external surface lot late on a Saturday night in March 2013, leaving one man dead and one man injured. In May 2013, a man was injured by shots fired into the Joey restaurant at midnight on a Friday night. Yorkdale upgraded its security with a new $3.4 million video surveillance system that went into service in March 2014. The new system provides full 360-degree surveillance of the mall and the parking lots. It also includes licence plate recognition technology at parking entrances. In August 2018, Yorkdale Mall was shut down after a spate of gun violence erupted at its Starbucks location. Though nobody was seriously injured, it caused major delays on major TTC routes.
Department stores and restaurants
When first opened, Yorkdale had a large number of clothing retailers along with large department stores in the mix of stores. Yorkdale was the first Canadian mall to include two major department stores: Simpson's and Eaton's, under the same roof. Eaton's went bankrupt in 1999 and its space was redeveloped into a new wing that opened in 2005.
Since the late 1990s onward, Yorkdale's management has focused on attracting luxury brand retailers, especially those selling clothing and accessories, as well as high-end electronics, a strategy also adopted by Sherway Gardens. These include Versace, Bulgari, Burberry, Cartier, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Apple, and Bose. Yorkdale has also attracted American and international retailers seeking to expand to Canada. Yorkdale bought out the lease of Sears in 2014 to reallocate that space for higher-priced department stores.
Unlike other major malls in Toronto, such as Toronto Eaton Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, Sherway Gardens, and Fairview Mall, Yorkdale does not have grocery stores or discount store tenants. However, Yorkdale has a Shoppers Drug Mart. In the vicinity of Yorkdale, there are factory outlets and discount stores nearby on Orfus Road, while big box stores are located on Dufferin Street just north of Highway 401. Lawrence Allen Centre, formerly Lawrence Square Shopping Centre, to the south on Lawrence Avenue at Allen Road, serves the local community.
Yorkdale has been the point of entry into the Canadian market for many widely known international commercial enterprises. Companies that have opened or plan on opening their first Canadian store at Yorkdale include:
- Apple Store — May 2005, relocated to new wing in December 2012.
- Bath & Body Works — September 2008
- Crate & Barrel — Late 2008
- Furla — October 2019
- GEOX — May 2005
- J. Crew — August 2011
- Kate Spade New York — November 2012
- LOFT — November 2012
- Microsoft Store — November 2012
- Ted Baker — November 2012
- Tesla Motors — November 2012
- True Religion — October 2010
- Zara Home — August 2013
- John Varvatos — November 2013
- Christian Louboutin — November 2013
- David Yurman — Winter 2013
- AllSaints — April 2013
- Salvatore Ferragamo Italia S.p.A. — July 2013
- White House Black Market — October 2013
- Tumi — November 2013
- The Cheesecake Factory — November 2017
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, more than 30 American retailers contacted mall management, wanting to open their first Canadian stores in Yorkdale after Crate & Barrel revealed that their first store outside the United States would open in Yorkdale in 2008.
Yorkdale's Nordstrom was the fourth location in Canada, opening after the locations at the Toronto Eaton Centre, Calgary's Chinook Centre and Ottawa's Rideau Centre. Yorkdale's Uniqlo store was the second of its kind in Canada when it opened in late 2016, a month after the first Uniqlo opened at the Toronto Eaton Centre the previous September. Yorkdale's Lego Store is the second one in Canada after the first opened at Fairview Mall.
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