Yorkdale Shopping Centre still nifty at 50

Look who’s getting a facelift for its 50th birthday. The Yorkdale Shopping Centre is undergoing a 300,000-square-foot, $331-million expansion that is to start construction in 2014.

14mar5-YorkdaleSCThe mall’s fifth expansion in half a century will bring its total size to two million sq. ft.

When the addition is complete in 2016, it will include Toronto’s first, three-level, 188,000-sq.-ft. Nordstrom store.

“When Yorkdale first opened its doors in 1964, we were the largest shopping centre in the world,” mall general manager Claire Santamaria said in a statement. “Fifty years later, we can say that Yorkdale has helped transform Canada’s retail landscape by being the No. 1 destination for international retailers entering the Canadian market.”

The Yorkdale mall now receives 22 million visitors annually, has a daily vehicle traffic count of 517,400 cars, records sales per sq. ft. of $1,300, and rakes in total annual sales of $1 billion.

The shopping centre marked its late February birthday in style, opening a show of portraits by musician/photographer Bryan Adams while the CN Tower was lit in gold in celebration of the Toronto landmark.

Who’s who of retailers

Retailers who first came into Canada via Yorkdale reads like a who’s who of shopping, include the likes of Apple Store, Crate & Barrel, J.Crew, Microsoft Store and Zara Home.

When the mall first opened on Feb. 26, 1964, Trizec Corporation owned the shopping centre. The Wikipedia entry on Yorkdale reports that at more than one million sq. ft., it was also the first mall to include two major department stores under one roof, namely Simpson’s and Eaton’s.

Yorkdale’s suburban location urged people accustomed to shopping in downtown Toronto to venture out to the mall, making it a destination. The Spadina Expressway (now called Allen Road) was built to accommodate the mall. At one point, the developers of the $42-million shopping centre threatened to cancel the project if the road didn’t go ahead.

First renovation in 1999

The mall’s first renovation came in 1999, adding a movie theatre and an Indigo Books and Music store.

A $60-million expansion followed in 2005, increasing the space to approximately 1.4 million sq. ft. A 60-foot-high glass atrium, 300 feet in length, was added.

In 2012, a $185-million renovation added another 145,000 sq. ft., along with about 30 new stores. It was the second expansion that year, collectively adding 190,000 sq. ft. to the shopping centre at a cost of $220 million. The addition of a number of sustainable technologies, including a green roof, made the shopping centre eligible for a LEED Silver certification.

Today, Oxford Properties and Alberta Investment Management Corporation jointly own the 1.7 million-sq. ft.-mall, which contains more than 250 shops and services. It is currently the fifth-largest mall in Canada.



A multiple award-winning reporter, writer and editor for more than 25 years, Charles Mandel most recently worked as the National Observer's climate change reporter. He is a former Atlantic correspondent…

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A multiple award-winning reporter, writer and editor for more than 25 years, Charles Mandel most recently worked as the National Observer's climate change reporter. He is a former Atlantic correspondent…

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