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Oakville Place Shopping Centre Shifts Focus Under RioCan Direction with New Tenants: Interview

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Oakville Place, the only indoor mall in Oakville Ontario, is continuing to expand its community offerings despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Big things are happening at the shopping centre, which is owned by RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust, including the addition of four new restaurants, three new retailers and the re-opening of a refreshed H&M store.

Jeff Ross

Jeff Ross, SVP Leasing and Tenant Construction at RioCan, said the transition of the mall has been taking place over the last few years after RioCan bought the property from Cadillac Fairview.

“The personality of this asset needed a reset. It needed to be changed. When we acquired it – we bought it from Cadillac – they were trying to take it in a certain direction. We needed to change the merchandising to have it stop trying to be a high end retail centre to become a strong community mall that really services the daily needs of the shoppers,” said Ross.

“It wasn’t working like a Bayview Village where you were getting these boutiques and was creating its own personality. The problem is you’re fairly close. You’re right in the middle between Maple View and Sherway. And those were servicing the higher end centres. This thing needed to become a daily and weekly shopping experience and it needed the change in tenancies for that to happen.”

The mall is 420,000 square feet with about 110 different businesses.

Recent news for the mall included the refreshing of the H&M space. Also three new retailers coming include Urban Kids, Serendipity Candles and Freshly Squeezed. They will open up towards the end of the year.

The new food offerings are STACK Restaurant, Pearl Chinese Cuisine, Joy of Pho and Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza.

STACK Restaurant, a family-oriented, casual dining Southern BBQ, and Goodfellas Wood Oven Pizza, a fully licenced, Italian-style eatery, will fill nearly 8,700 square feet of retail space on the North side of the property beside the PetSmart. Pearl Chinese Cuisine will occupy just over 6,200 square feet of space inside the South entrance on the ground floor, while the 450 square foot Joy of Pho will be located in the Food Hall.

STACK Restaurant at Oakville Place

Goodfellas and STACK took out space in what was previously Oliver & Bonacini. Pearl took over a forward facing bank branch right at the front of the centre. Goodfellas, STACK and Joy of Pho will be opening this fall while Pearl will open in early 2022.

“You always need the accelerator. We got the old Sears and that’s what we had to redevelop. You can only start to change the personality of a mall when opportunity presents itself. So this thing needed to change from the outside in which with the re-letting of the space it allowed us to kind of show the world that there was something new going on in the centre,” said Ross. “If you just start to switch out the 1,500 square footers it takes an awful long time to change what the perception of the centre is. This accelerated that and allowed us to re-set.”

The Sears space ended up being used for Goodlife Fitness, PetSmart and buybuyBaby.

“And by the very nature those tenancies are much more frequent shopping trips than a department store would be,” added Ross.

Another game changer for Oakville Place was the introduction of an L.L.Bean store in the shopping centre – Canada’s first store.

“It’s right at the front of the centre. That was just such a destinational draw that it was the ideal to do. It opened up just before COVID,” said Ross.

He said the success of Oakville Place is the fact it is extremely well located.

RioCan has a strategy of utilizing land on many of its shopping centre properties for residential use.

When asked about Oakville Place, Rosss replied: “The possibility does exist and we’re always looking into it. We think the proximity to transit makes it an ideal possibility for the future but we’ll continue to monitor that and work with the municipality to see if it’s feasible.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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