Retail Insider continues its Photo Tour series of Canadian malls to provide a window into shopping centres which may be less frequented lately due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This edition takes us to the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver in Richmond, near Vancouver, which was the first designer outlet mall in British Columbia.
The open-air village style centre, which features piazzas, cobblestone walkways, and a variety of historical-looking facades, was architected by Edmonton-based firm Stantec Inc.
The centre is a joint venture between McArthurGlen, Europe’s leading owner, developer, and manager of designer outlets, and the Vancouver Airport Authority, a community-based, not-for-profit organization that operates the Vancouver International Airport.
History of McArthur Glen Designer Outlet
The master plan for the shopping centre includes three phases, of which two have been built so far. The design was European-inspired; however, design elements were also inspired by iconic Vancouver architecture such as the city’s first post-office building that was built in 1937, the Vancouver Rowing Club (1911), and the distinctive brick facades associated with the city’s historic Gastown district. The prime location with access to YVR International Airport as well as the Templeton Skytrain public transit hub made the space perfect for the sprawling outdoor European retail pathways.
- Phase One: Opened in July 2015 featuring 240,000 square feet of retail and food space.
- Phase Two: Broke ground in March 2018 and opened in August 2019 featuring an additional 84,000 square feet of retail space (which was scaled back from the originally planned 160,000 square foot expansion).
- Phase Three: Future phase with an additional 65,000 square feet.
Access to McArthur Glen Designer Outlet
The shopping centre can be reached by vehicle or by public transport. The Templeton Skytrain station opened in August 2009 in anticipation of servicing the centre as well as light industrial and long term airport parking in the area. Vehicular traffic accesses the centre from Templeton Street which connects to the major Grant McConachie Way that services the airport. Patrons choosing to arrive by road are greeted with single level, 2,000 parking space lot.
Breaking up the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet
As previously mentioned, the shopping centre is intended to be completed with three phases. For the purposes of this retail tour, we will be proceeding through the centre in the following zones:
The tour zones include the following (with the corresponding color coding):
- Phase One Upper (Red)
- Phase One Middle (Green)
- Phase One Lower (Blue)
- Phase Two (Purple)
Phase One Lower Zone Tour (Blue)
Coming from the Templeton Skytrain, the photo tour begins at the bottom left of the overall map.
The cobblestone pathway brings patrons between the European clad exteriors lit by lanterns to the first piazza. This gathering place is encircled by a Gap Factory Outlet store, a Banana Republic Factory Outlet store, Burberry, Levi’s, Swarovski, Sunglass Hut, and Under Armour. The Burberry outlet is the only one in British Columbia.
Continuing along the lower zone of Phase One brings patrons to a second piazza. The popular Nike outlet is one of the retailers circling the piazza along with Icebreaker Merino, Mavi Jeans, People’s Jewellers, Columbia Sportswear, Vans, and Skechers. A food pavilion also is along the south side of the piazza, including Vancouver’s crowd favourite JAPADOG.
Nike has been particularly aggressive with its direct-to-consumer expansion which includes standalone stores and digital channels as the brand pulls out of multi-brand retailers.
Phase Two Tour Zone (Purple)
Officially opening in August 2019, Phase Two of McArthurGlen Vancouver opened four years after Phase One completed. The new expansion featured 84,000 square feet which was part of the intended, original plan disclosed in 2015. The new phase continued the outside, open-air European concept to provide a seamless continuation along cobblestone walkways lit by lanterns.
Continuing to the north half of Phase Two, on the cusp between the south and north sections was Australian jeweller Michael Hill and a location for luxury watch brand Movado.
The final, expansive piazza for Phase Two on the tour is circular-ish with an open area in the centre.
The retailers encircling the piazza included some luxury design labels such as Max Mara, Stuart Weitzman, Tory Burch, and Jimmy Choo. This is a particularly pricey section of the mall — Italian luxury brand Max Mara operates a handful of stores in Canada, and the Vancouver franchise is owned by Vestis Fashioni Group. Tory Burch recently opened four outlet stores with other locations in Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, and Toronto. The Jimmy Choo outlet store is one of two in Canada, with the other at Toronto Premium Outlets.
Between Aritzia and Starbucks was construction signage blocking access for patrons. This would be the future entrance to the future Phase Three which details on its construction and opening have not been released.
Exiting the large piazza from Phase Two, we continued along the cobblestone walkway passing other high caliber retailers including Canadian brand Roots, Montreal-based vegan leather brand Matt & Natt, Jack & Jones, AllSaints, L’Occitaine, Aldo, and Aritzia. L’Occitane recently filed for bankruptcy protection with most stores to remain open, and Aldo also shocked many when it announced a filing last year.
Phase One Middle Zone Tour (Green)
Returning for the rest of the photo tour to Phase One, the centrepiece of the planned development is the centre piazza for McArthur Glen Vancouver.
The centre focal point piazza has a massive sculpture called SEI by artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. The 12-meter-long sculpture was revealed as part of the Phase One opening in 2015 and has 8.5 tons of stainless steel, copper, granite, and marble. The contemporary piece towers four meters high with a copper underbelly.
The retailers surrounding the SEI statue include several heavy hitting luxury brands including Giorio Armani (plus the lower-priced Armani Exchange attached), Mackage, Kate Spade, Brooks Brothers, Ted Baker, Maje, Sandro, Michael Kors, Ports 1961, Ted Baker, UGG, and Lacoste. Montreal-based Mackage, which recently opened a Manhattan flagship, has been expanding its direct-to-consumers stores globally. Sandro and Maje have also opened stores across Canada in recent years.
Moving onto the the last large architectural piazzas is in the left (or west) side of the middle zone of Phase One. This is one of the dramatic entrances welcoming patrons into the outlet centre with Caffe Artigiano taking up residence in the centre of the piazza.
The retailers encircling the large plaza include Polo Ralph Lauren, Club Monaco, Cole Haan, Tumi, Boss, Coach, and The Cosmetics Company Store.
Phase One Upper Zone Tour (Red)
The last area of McArthurGlen Vancouver is the north end of Phase One with several retailers residing in this tour zone.
With coffee in hand from Caffe Artigiano, the photo tour moved north to enter the left (or west) end of the upper zone. Passing Guess and Calvin Klein, another entrance is accessible at this point and it is the beginning of the row of retailers.
Standing at Tommy Hilfiger in front of one of the entrances from the parking lot, the channel European corridor of retailers continues to the end of the Phase One. The first main retailers are Fossil and The Body Shop.
The retailer row has several retailers including Herschel Supply, Guess Accessories, Zwilling, Mountain Warehouse, Naturalizer, Rossignol, Samsonite, Rebok, Puma, and Geox. Herschel’s outlet store is a first for the company, and Naturalizer is expected to close soon given that all North American units will shutter.
At the very end of the retailer row is a square courtyard which brings us to the end of our photo tour. Still within the north end of Phase One, this square courtyard includes Carter’s | OshKosh, Lindt, ASICS, Ammolite & Jade, and Desigual. At one time, Spanish fashion brand Desigual had stores across Canada and were operated by J.Michaels which quietly shut down last year.
Similar to in Phase Two, between Lindt and Carter’s | OshKosh is the future entrance to Phase Three which was currently blocked off for patrons.
This concludes our retail photo tour of McArthur Glen Designer Outlet. We had a very interesting photo walk around and we hope you enjoyed coming along with us.