How CF Shops at Don Mills Reflects Leading Shopping Centre Trends


Share post:

Toronto’s CF Shops at Don Mills has created a unique and innovative shopping experience, reflecting the trend among top malls to increase food/beverage and entertainment components. What’s resulted is a unique outdoor community centre that has also seen a number of ‘firsts’ to its premises, including new retailers as well as the country’s first exclusively all VIP cinema by Cineplex. Landlord Cadillac Fairview is also investing heavily in enhancing the public realm, and a substantial amount of housing is also being added to the property through partner residential developers. 

The upscale Toronto property is addressing a shopping centre trend identified by many entities, including the International Council of Shopping Centres, by expanding offerings to include more than just stores. At one time in Canada, it was enough for a landlord to fill a mall with fashion and accessory tenants to attract shoppers and be successful. In a new age of e-commerce and the tendency for consumers to seek-out experiences, successful malls are increasingly adding entertainment and dining options to the mix that cannot be replicated online. 

CF Shops at Don Mills – Image Courtesy Cadillac Fairview

The open-air CF Shops at Don Mills opened in 2009, replacing a previous enclosed shopping centre on the site. The new centre quickly gained popularity among locals in adjacent neighbourhoods, which is significant — Cadillac Fairview has identified nearby residential areas to be among the wealthiest in Canada, with most boasting easy access to CF Shops at Don Mills. 

The centre has the reputation of attracting first-to-market retailers. Director of Leasing Nick Iozzo revealed that CF Shops at Don Mills saw the opening of sporting goods retailer Salomon‘s first store in North America in the spring of 2009, Anthropologie‘s first Canadian store (also in 2009), art photography retailer YellowKorner‘s first Canadian location, Mark McEwan‘s first grocery store (worth a visit), and online retailer‘s first brick-and-mortar location. Frank + Oak‘s first shopping centre store opened at CF Shops at Don Mills several months ago, spearheading a partnership with Cadillac Fairview that will see the Montreal-based brand open in multiple centres across Canada. As well, Cineplex’s first stand-alone VIP cinema opened at the centre in August of 2014, and Vancouver-based restaurant chain Joey opened its first eastern Canadian location at the centre in early 2010. Mr. Iozzo said that there are more ‘firsts’ on the way for the centre, with several lease deals close to being finalized. 

Food and beverage is also an important component of the centre, Mr. Iozzo explained, with a substantial number of shoppers surveyed saying that they also came to the centre for a meal or drink. This is partly a result of the centre housing a number of popular restaurants, with the centre boasting one of the highest percentages of food retailers in any Canadian mall. Notable restaurant tenants include Taylor’s Landing, Bier Markt, Joey, Jack Astor’s, Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica, Glow Fresh Grill & Wine BarPanera Bread and others, primarily focused in part of the mall near the centre’s town square. 

CF Shops at Don Mills – Image Courtesy Cadillac Fairview

Entertainment will play a bigger role at the centre, said Mr. Iozzo, with several deals in the works and discussions underway. One concept is fitness-based, and another could see a hybrid of “food, fun and entertainment”.

Cadillac Fairview has earmarked over $20 million for continued improvements to the centre, which will include improved accessibility and wayfinding signage. An enhanced ‘Entertainment Zone’ along O’Neill Road (the outdoor centre has city-named streets) will also soon include widened sidewalks, widened patios, cobblestone paving and an overhead catenary lighting system. A second entertainment zone is being added to the junction of Leadley Lane and Karl Fraser Road, to continue to attract visitors. Parking improvements to the centre will include a 1,000 stall parkade accessed through a new pedestrian entry off of Karl Fraser Road, with several new tenants to line the pathway. New Illuminated digital signage will allow drivers to know how many of the 2,900 parking spots are available throughout the centre, for convenience. 

CF Shops at Don Mills – Image Courtesy Cadillac Fairview

Other improvements will include new street-scaping with widened sidewalks, upgraded furniture and seating areas, cobblestone roadways, outdoor sound system and landscaping along the walkways to introduce more green space. A new water feature at the central ‘Aggie Hogg Gardens’ will also welcome visitors when completed this fall. In the winter, patrons will be able to bring their ice skates to the centre’s skating oval, helping make the outdoor centre a year-round destination. 

Adding to the existing centre are a number of new condominium towers. The centre already features two residential buildings (‘Flaire‘, ‘Reflections‘ and ‘LivLofts‘) and soon, six more towers will join them under the ‘Rodeo Drive‘ name umbrella. When done, an estimated 4,500 residents will live in 2,800 residential units on the CF Shops at Don Mills site, adding a captive audience to an already successful shopping destination. 

CF Shops at Don Mills will continue to pull-in shoppers from an increasingly widening catchment area, which also includes a substantial number of corporate head offices. Within a two kilometre radius of the centre, head offices for Four Seasons Hotels, Home Depot Canada, Sony Music, McDonald’s Canada and Tesla Canada attract daytime visitors seeking out CF Shops at Don Mills’ fitness, food, services and fashions. 

*All images were supplied by Cadillac Fairview.

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter


* indicates required

Related articles

Consumer Loyalty Trends in Canada: The Crucial Role of Personalization in a Changing Economy [Video Interview]

A critical statistic reveals that 33% of consumers abandon brands that lack personalization, emphasizing the growing importance of tailoring experiences and offers to meet individual customer expectations in today's competitive market.

Ralph Lauren Expands in Canada with 1st Full-Price Luxury Store at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre [Photos]

The US-based brand has opened a concept store featuring a mix of luxury and Polo products, and is expected to open more in Canada after launching an e-commerce site next month. 

Bayshore Shopping Centre in Ottawa Dominating Market and Adding Tenants Amid Sales Growth [Interview]

The landlord completed 77 leasing transactions totalling over 431,000 square feet in the past year, with more retailers and a redevelopment in the works.

Elevating Canadian Retail: How JLL’s Expertise Reshapes Property Management [Interviews]

Landlords are increasingly turning to JLL for pioneering property management solutions that prioritize both enhanced customer experiences and sustainability.

Mandy’s to Open Gourmet Salad Restaurant in Toronto’s Yorkville as Chain Expands [Exclusive Interview/Renderings]

The popular Montreal-based foodservice concept is growing its presence in Toronto with multiple locations, including one behind a soon-to-open Saint Laurent flagship store.

Gen Z’s Digital Upbringing Meets a Passion for Tangible Retail and Authentic Brands [Interview]

A new report on Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, provides insight into consumer behaviours as well as a look into the upcoming Generation Alpha.

Interview with Giant Tiger’s New CEO Gino DiGioacchino on the Future of the Iconic Canadian Retailer [Interview]

DiGioacchino speaks to Retail Insider after being appointed as the new President and CEO of Giant Tiger, and discusses the future of the business and importance of maintaining strong connections with local communities.

Purdys Chocolatier Expands Footprint with Pop-Up Stores [Interview]

The strategy involves providing customers with a taste of Purdys' renowned chocolates in areas where the brand hasn't had a presence before.

Colliers Report Emphasizes the Retail Advantage of Bridging the Digital-Physical Divide [Interview]

A recent report by Colliers Real Estate Management Services reveals that retailers who effectively blend their online and physical store operations are 35% more likely to achieve profitability, with the study emphasizes the importance of omnichannel strategies, convenience, property maintenance, and retailer-driven ESG initiatives.

Preview of ICSC@CANADA Conference 2023: Retail, Technology, and Networking Opportunities in Toronto [Interview]

Craig and Kyle Tomlin, Director of Events in Canada for ICSC, discuss the highly anticipated ICSC@CANADA 2023 conference, set to take place from October 2nd to 4th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre North Hall in downtown Toronto.

Canadian Grocers Take a Page from Carrefour’s Playbook to Tackle ‘Shrinkflation [Op-Ed]

French supermarket chain Carrefour has labeled products impacted by reduced size, and similar measures may be adopted in Canada to enhance transparency in food pricing, says Sylvain Charlebois.

Jeweller Mejuri Debuts Personalized App and Innovative Membership Program; Plans Expansion with 5 New Stores [Co-Founder Interview]

The popular brand's personalized mobile app and membership program aim to enhance customer engagement and personalization, as Mejuri enters major markets with stores.