Ottawa’s Rideau Shopping Centre to Expand

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Retail Insider has the flu, so we’re going to post text to an existing article and bring you some new content hopefully tomorrow.

We’ve just got confirmation that, after two Sears Canada execs resigned today, the road may be paved for one or two more Nordstrom announcements in Toronto. We may have information about a Toronto Eaton Centre Nordstrom as early as Friday. We’re going to rest in bed now after posting this story…

“OTTAWA — The owners of the Rideau Centre have revealed plans for a massive, $250-million renovation and proposed expansion of the downtown shopping mall, adding further fuel to Ottawa’s red hot retail boom.

“We’ve had a grand vision for the property,” Sal Iacono, eastern portfolio manager of Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd., told the 19th annual Ottawa Real Estate Forum on Thursday.

The project is spurred by the planned 2015 opening of an outlet by upscale American retail chain Nordstrom in the top two floors of a space now occupied by Sears, which is closing its Rideau Centre outlet. The $100-million renovation will relocate the mall’s food court to the ground floor of the former Sears store, closer to the Apple Store. The rest of the mall will also be updated.

Iacono also revealed a planned 180,000-square-foot expansion of the mall on the corner of Nicholas Street and Rideau Street, now the site of a parking lot. The company has earmarked $150 million to build the addition.

Mall general manager Cindy VanBuskirk was quick to point out that the conference marked the first public disclosure of the expansion plan. She said the mall still needs to win approval from city council and hold public consultations before it can move ahead with construction.

However, Iacono revealed a fairly aggressive time frame for the construction. Cadillac Fairview wants to have shovels in the ground as early as next spring and hopes to open the expansion in time for Nordstrom’s arrival in 2015. The expansion will bring the mall to 837,000 square feet from its current 657,000 square feet.

Preliminary artist’s renderings of the new shopping area reveal that trendy clothing chain H&M will be a tenant. The drawings portray a three-storey building that wraps around the corner of Nicholas and Rideau, with two levels of underground parking below. An H&M logo is prominently featured as the anchor store in the rendering.

Cadillac Fairview showed the drawings at the conference but declined to provide copies to the Citizen.

H&M has reportedly been looking to come to Ottawa for nearly nine years, but has yet to publicly announce when and where it will setup shop in the capital. Asked for a timeline for the store’s arrival, Iacono would only say: “To answer your question, we are hoping to open our expansion in spring of 2015.”

The project is the latest example of a booming retail evolution that is attracting numerous international retailing chains to Ottawa.

Bayshore Shopping Centre is in the midst of expanding to 1.1 million square feet from 722,000 square feet to accommodate a Target store and other retailers. Tanger Outlets has partnered with RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust to build a 350,000-square-foot outlet mall, with as many as 15 American-style outlet shops, on 50 acres north of Highway 417 near Scotiabank Place. The company hopes to have the outlets ready for shoppers by 2014.

Ikea recently opened its largest Canadian outlet — at least until an expanded Montreal location opens — at the Pinecrest Shopping Centre.

“Ottawa is a lucrative market,” said Barry Nabatian, director of the market research division at Shore-Tanner & Associates. “More than half of the labour force work in high paying jobs.”

Nabatian said the average income of a household in Ottawa is $98,000. More than 40 per cent of Ottawa households bring home more than $100,000 annually.

Ottawa shoppers spend more than $15.3 billion on retail annually. Stores in the capital collect, on average, $475 per square foot in retail sales annually. Other Canadian cities see shoppers spend between $250 and $350 per square foot of retail space on an annual basis.
Nabatian and other forum speakers said Victoria’s Secret, Anne Taylor, J Crew and U.S.-based Mexican food chain Chipotles are among the chains looking for new or further Ottawa locations.

Bryce Dymond, principal with retail real estate consulting firm Northwest Atlantic (Canada) Inc., said Nordstrom’s choice of Ottawa as one of its first four Canadian cities will set off alarm bells for other American retailers and make the capital even more attractive.
“Nordstrom will do what Apple did for malls years ago,” said Dymond. “If it’s good enough for Nordstrom, its good enough for anyone.”

He said Nordstrom’s arrival may even push other upscale U.S. retailers such as Macy’s to move north.

The forum attracted a record crowd of 525 real estate professionals to the Hampton Inn and Conference Centre on Coventry Road to discuss where the Ottawa market is heading. Other speakers included Mayor Jim Watson, Mario Lefebvre, director of the Conference Board of Canada’s centre for municipal studies, and Cal Kirkpatrick, president of Colonnade Development.

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