The 1.3 million square foot, 250+ store mall saw $62 million in enhancements in 2010, resulting in a remarkable 40% sales productivity increase. Building on this success will be more mall upgrades, with a goal for the centre to be “the best shopping experience between Yonge Street and Montreal”, according to Mr. Horst.
Scarborough Town Centre’s food component is next to see improvements. Mr. Horst explained that Oxford Properties will invest $35-million in a two-phase, two-level space with a variety of quick-service food vendors as well as new premium, fast-casual restaurants. By August of 2016, the first-phase lower level food area will feature increased natural light and a glass-bridge walkway with 22 new quick-service food vendors as well as added seating capacity with dish, cutlery and scullery service for a more upmarket dining experience. The second-phase upper level food area will offer a more upscale, interior patio-style seating beneath the existing mall skylight. Three premium, fast-casual, full service restaurants, two quick-service food vendors and 12 retail units will be introduced. The current access-controlled family and parenting rooms will be expanded and enhanced, and all corridors will be widened. Construction on this level is scheduled to begin in August 2016 and be completed by May of 2017.
Mr. Horst explained that the mall’s enhanced dining experience is part of a greater effort to improve the mall’s already exceptional and growing productivity, by keeping shoppers satisfied, comfortable and as a result, spending. Oxford Properties is spending millions on its mall portfolio to elevate its food offerings — Yorkdale Shopping Centre saw ‘Dine on 3‘ open in the summer of 2012, and Mississauga’s Square One saw a similar addition a year later. More Oxford malls will continue to see similar improvements including downtown Edmonton City Centre, which will see its food court relocated from the basement to a spacious, sun-flooded top level location.
Scarborough Town Centre is seeing exceptional productivity growth, according to Mr. Horst. Annual sales per square foot were less than $650 last year and remarkably, the centre is now seeing sales averaging about $770 per square foot. That number is expected to increase to over $800 by the end of this year, he said. New retailers and store renovations are partly responsible — recent store openings have included Michael Kors, Gerry Weber, Fonelab, Geox, iStore, Rockport, Thomas Sabo, Vince Camuto, Torrid, and L’Occitane en Provence and as well, over 20 retailers have recently renovated stores. More retailers are on the way and so far, Flyzone and a 23,000 square foot Zara are confirmed to open in the centre in 2016. Mr. Horst complimented Jay Drexler, Director of Retail Leasing, for securing exceptional tenants for the centre.
Mr. Horst explained how sales continue to grow substantially at the centre. Not only is this a result of a stronger retail mix and other mall improvements, but the mall itself is seeing a more upscale demographic as its catchment area expands. Scarborough is also seeing an increasingly upscale demographic as homebuyers recognize the opportunity to buy reasonably priced (for the area) houses on lots appropriate for tear-downs. Home prices are on the rise and remarkably, some parts of Scarborough, particularly along the waterfront, are seeing double-digit annual appreciation.
More improvements are planned for Scarborough Town Centre, though Oxford Properties is waiting for the City of Toronto to finalize subway plans which could include a new station at the centre. Once finalized, Oxford Properties will determine what’s next for the centre.
Mr. Horst would not comment specifically on reports that La Maison Simons will move into Scarborough Town Centre in 2018, except to say that it would be a desirable tenant. In June, Simons’ CEO Peter Simons said that he was going to open a store in the mall, as well as at Oxford-owned Yorkdale Shopping Centre in 2019.