Retail Insider continues its Photo Tour series of Canadian malls to provide a glimpse into shopping centres which may be less frequented lately due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This edition takes us to CrossIron Mills next to Calgary, Alberta. The shopping centre is often referred to as being a ‘hybrid outlet’ model as it combines 191 full price retailers under the same roof as 100 outlet and factory stores. The shopping centre has affiliated ‘Mills’ located in the greater Toronto area (known as Vaughan Mills) and the greater Vancouver area (known as Tsawwassen Mills).
As with most Canadian retail spaces, CrossIron Mills is an indoor shopping centre which was developed — and is now owned and operated — by Ivanhoé Cambridge. The retail and designated tourist attraction has resulted in 9.4 million annual visits (as of December 2019), $689 sales per square foot (as of December 2019), and $547 million gross sales volume (as of December 2019). The shopping centre sprawls across 1.2 million square feet and boasts 17 large format anchors which includes:
- Bass Pro Shops (148,911 square feet)
- Toys “R” Us (51,069 square feet)
- Sport Chek (38,990 square feet)
- Bed Bath & Beyond (31,950 square feet)
- Winners (30,941 square feet)
- Saks OFF 5TH (30,009 square feet)
- Pro Hockey Life (25,306 square feet)
- HomeSense (24,141 square feet)
- Skechers (20,901 square feet)
- H&M (20,708 square feet)
- Indigo Books (20,585 square feet)
- Designer Shoe Warehouse (20,565 square feet)
- The Children’s Place (20,536 square feet)
- Old Navy (20,145 square feet)
- Tommy Hilfiger Outlet (20,069 square feet)
- Laura Outlet (20,003 square feet)
- Urban Planet (20,003 square feet)
History of CrossIron Mills
Vaughan Mills near Toronto, the predecessor and sister shopping centre to CrossIron Mills, was designed and built by Ivanhoé Cambridge and the Mills Corporation in 2004 based on the highly-successful ‘race track’ format for outlet malls in the United States. Mills Corporation was subsequently acquired by Simons Property Group in 2007; however, Ivanhoé Cambridge completed the sale of its interest in Vaughan Mills in October 2006 prior to the acquisition. Ivanhoé Cambridge planned for four Mills shopping centres in Canada, including:
- Toronto (Vaughan Mills in Vaughan, Ontario which opened in November 2004)
- Calgary (CrossIron Mills)
- Vancouver (Tsawwassen Mills in Delta, B.C. which opened in October 2016)
- Montreal (Laval Mills in Laval, Quebec which was abandoned in May 2011)
Ivanhoé Cambridge continued riding its success from its now wholly-owned Vaughan Mills and began construction of its second Canadian “Mills” in Calgary. CrossIron Mills opened in phases throughout 2009 and its final phase, the Entertainment Neighbourhood, opened in the summer of 2010.
A $60 million major renovation was announced by Ivanhoé Cambridge in 2014 to relocate the original food court (located off the “Happy Trails Entrance” circled in red below) and opened the new food hall in the Entertainment Neighbourhood in July 2016. The original food court location was then converted into 46,000 square feet of additional retail space.
Breaking up CrossIron Mills
Retail Insider has done several retail mall tours and one of the major distinguishing features of a Mills concept centre is the design. With over 1.4 million square feet on a single level, connected by 2.7 km of internal raceway, visual appeal, and architectural variation. The concept was to divide the centre into “Neighbourhoods” that have themes representative of the local area. The architecture of CrossIron Mills is innovative, contemporary, and reflects Alberta’s unique heritage. We will follow the following neighbourhoods in our retail tour:
THE NEIGHBOURHOODS OF CROSSIRON MILLS
- Fashion Neighbourhood – The latest fashion trends at their finest.
- Ranch Neighbourhood – A salute to Alberta’s rich western history.
- Resources Neighbourhood – Celebrating Alberta’s resources: oil, wind, agriculture, natural gas ,and more.
- Fossil Neighbourhood – Recognizing the history of the badlands of Alberta.
- Sports Neighbourhood – Commemorating Alberta’s athletic accomplishments.
- Entertainment Neighbourhood – A nod to Alberta’s industrial growth.
In addition to each neighbourhood, there are six ‘courts’ spread amongst the six neighbourhoods with artwork symbolizing different characteristics of the Albertan way of life.
Zone 1 – Fashion Neighbourhood
The Fashion Entrance is on the far northwest side of the centre and is characterized by what is colloquially known as the ‘Gumby Girl’ outside and leads into the Fashion Neighbourhood which has 12-foot-tall store fronts.
Key anchor retail tenants for this neighbourhood include Bass Pro Shops, Sport Chek, Bed Bath & Beyond, Laura, and Saks OFF 5TH The Saks OFF 5th opened in fall 2016 measuring 30,000 square feet.
Other select retailers in the neighbourhood include Coach, Oak + Tonic, Tommy Bahama, Brooks Brothers, Michael Kors, Brown’s Outlet, Melanie Lyne, Lacoste Outlet, Kate Spade, Geox, Tip Top, Cleo, Little Burgundy, Fairweather, Naturalizer, La vie en Rose, Lenscrafters, Miniso, The Shoe Company, GNC, Michael Hill, Ben Moss, Lush, Guitarworks, and Mountain Warehouse.
Fine Arts Court – The Fine Arts Court transitions from the Fashion to Ranch neighbourhoods and features geometric shapes, bright colours, stark white abstract sculptures, and a coffee shop with spacious seating area. This area is a nod to Alberta’s trendy art scene.
Zone 2 – Ranch Neighbourhood
The Ranch Neighbourhood is a nod to the Old West. It is often referred to as the Ranch Spine as it runs through the middle of the centre. The Ranch Neighbourhood boasts 8 different types of hardwood flooring with theatrical western store fronts and huge sheriffs badges in-set in the floor at either end. Also at opposite ends of the Ranch Neighbourhood are the “Good Guy” and “Bad Guy” gunslingers that stand at 23 feet tall, and customers walk beneath them as they enter the space.
The two retail Anchors in the Ranch neighbourhood are Tommy Hilfiger and H&M.
Select retailers in the Ranch neighbourhood include True Religion Outlet, ECCO shoes, Johnston & Murphy Factory Store, Banana Republic Factory Store, Guess Accessories, TUMI, Call It Spring, Logo Gifts, Nike, Levi’s, and Zumiez.
Campfire Court – Back to the basics of nature. The Campfire Court is at the west end of the ranch spine and is designed as a night sky with stars, the moon, and embers from the blown glass fire which is surrounded by tall trees and rustic log furniture. The ceiling treatment transitions from this court through the Ranch Neighbourhood, getting lighter and lighter toward the far end where the rodeo court is in full sun.
Additional select retailers in the Ranch neighbourhood include a Lululemon pop-up, TELUS, No Excuses Perfume, Vision Quest, and Saneal Cameras.
Wind Court – The Wind Court transitions between the Ranch and Resources Neighbourhoods and is inspired by the Chinook winds that are part of southern Alberta’s culture. Here you find the “Chinook Girl” gently blowing wind across ribbons and banners at the ceiling level to create activity. In this court is a central seating area of wave-shaped benches and if you look up you’ll see several banners with facts and lore about the Chinook winds.
Zone 3 – Resources Neighbourhood
The Resource Neighbourhood highlights the importance of agriculture, wind and, of course, oil & gas in Alberta. With an enormous stylized oil derrick as the entrance icon, this neighbourhood contains sculptures representing fields of grain, hay-accented store fronts, giant overhead ceiling fans, and an interactive piece of modern art modelled after a working oil rig.
The key retail anchor tenants in the Resources Neighbourhood include The Children’s Place, Indigo, HomeSense, and Winners.
Other retailers include Zumiez, Guess, Disney Outlet, Hot Topic, Milk Run, Below the Belt, Van Heusen Outlet, Discovery Hut, Just Cozy, Ricki’s, Underground, Foundry, Urban Behaviour, Footlocker, Stokes, QE Home, Urban Kids, Lindt, Zwilling J/A/ Henckels, and Clogs for Comfort.
Between the Resources Neighbourhood and the Fossils Neighbourhood is a court/play-area where children can turn the wheels and watch the ‘oil’ bubble through the rig.
Zone 4 – Fossils Neighbourhood
The Fossil Neighbourhood was designed as a tribute to the badlands of Alberta. With Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum mere hours away, they deemed it to be an important aspect of Alberta history to incorporate. Natural Cork linoleum represents the strata of earth as you dig for fossils. This area also features two more unique sculptures, the ‘Layers of Time’ statue representing the fossils left behind from various eras, and the ‘CrossIron Caveman’ holding a coffee and shopping bags frozen in a block of ice.
The main retail anchor tenants for the Fossils neighbourhood included Urban Planet, Sketchers, Toys “R” Us, and DSW Shoes.
Other select retailers in the Fossils neighbourhood include Scentsitively, Claire’s, EB Games, Aldo, Dynamite, Le Chateau, American Eagle, Portage & Main, Bath & Body Works, GAP Factory, Roots Outlet, Labels, Sunrise Records, Softmoc, Globo, Suzy Shier, Show Warehouse, Ardene Outlet, Bentley, All Pretty Things, Saje, Sparkle, Asics, Polo Talph Lauren, Aritzia, Aerie, Sephora, Garage, and Hugo Boss Outlet.
Rodeo Court – Between the four connections where Fossils, Sports, Entertainment, and Ranch Neighbourhoods meet is the Rodeo Court where hard-fought rodeo battles are paid homage. It is bright and airy, depicting many of the rodeo events with 4 metal sculptures of a saddle bronc rider, a roping cowboy, a bull rider, and a steer wrestler. Stylized cowboys look down on the Rodeo Court from their perch on the coral rail above.
Zone 5 – Sports Neighbourhood
The “Court of Champions” can be found in the Sports Neighbourhood entry court. A suspended ring hangs centre court with stadium seats below, displaying still and broadcast imagery representative of the diversity of Sport. The trophy cases and hanging medals above give interesting facts and recall the pay‐off of the hard-fought competitions of days past. Calgary is known internationally for having hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Winter is also represented throughout the Sports Neighbourhood, with a prominent chairlift feature incorporating embossed graphic wood chair slats featuring names and locations of Alberta’s best. The summer sport seating “oasis” area includes a nod to Spruce Meadows and the equestrian world, while the ceiling beyond showcases a tight race, as stylized rowing skulls battle toward the finish.
The Sports Neighbourhood hosts three main retail anchors including Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, and Pro Hockey Life.
Other select retailers in the Sports Neighbourhood include a VANS outlet, The Running Room, Showcase, Puma Outlet, Under Armour, Boathouse, Jack & Jones Outlet, International Clothiers, Jersey City, Torrid, Adidas Outlet, West 49 Outlet, Blue Notes, Sully’s, Bootlegger Outlet, Carter’s Osh Kosh, Journeys, Oksana, RW&CO, Fossil Outlet, Watch Station, La Senza, Exmore, Calvin Klein Outlet, Oakley Vault, Swarovski Outlet, and Sunglass Hut.
Wildlife Court – The Wildlife Court transitions from the Sports Neighbourhood to one of the major anchor tenants, Bass Pro Shops, and acknowledges the beauty and natural diversity of Alberta. Along each side of the water you’ll find a clearing where visitors can rest on rustic style furniture, and almost hear the sleeping bear snore. Animal images etched in bronze tiles dot the surrounding floor, artfully displaying different styles to capture their image. Above, rear illuminated transparent blue images of Alberta wildlife represent some of the great diversity that can be found. Flying gracefully above the trees, carved geese sculptures transition from simple forms to detailed representations as they exit the Court towards Bass Pro Shops.
Zone 6 – Entertainment Neighbourhood
The Entertainment Neighbourhood adds approximately 200,000 square feet of additional retail space and common area which is modelled after a dynamic 1930’s urban area. The state-of-the-art SilverCity entertainment area features more than 1,300 stadium seats and 7 auditoriums with wall-to-wall curved screens and digital surround sound. In addition, guests can enjoy the amenities in the approximately-13,000-square-foot XSCAPE Entertainment Centre which features a variety of the latest games and activities as well as a licensed lounge. Select auditoriums have RealD 3D technology where guests will be able to enjoy a totally immersive 3D experience like no other.
Nestled in with the restaurants and theatres is the main retail anchor, Shoppers Drug Mart.
The Entertainment Neighbourhood is home to the 45,000-square-foot SilverCity entertainment centre, three fully licensed sit-down restaurants; Boston Pizza, Fionn McCool’s, and Milestones.
The new-and-improved food hall now offers 1,400 seats and 24 restaurants and features a new entrance located on the north side of the property. This access features a 40-foot-high (12-metre) glass vestibule, a curved metal roof, and a glass curtain wall with metal columns and masonry accents. Its strategic location and the food hall’s numerous skylights improve brightness as well as enhance the overall shopping experience at the centre.
We had a very interesting photo walk around CrossIron Mills in Calgary and we hope you enjoyed coming along with us. Don’t forget to check out our other retail photo tours over the past few months. Thank you for taking this tour with us.
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