Some big changes are coming to CF Toronto Eaton Centre after landlord Cadillac Fairview announced major investments for upgrades over the next couple of years. That includes a replacement of the galleria roof that spans the centre as well as updates to movement and accessibility within the property. The total investment is about $77 million.
About $60 million will be invested to refurbish the galleria skylight roof at CF Toronto Eaton Centre which spans about 900 feet from Queen Street to the south to the Nordstrom store at the north end of the mall. Cadillac Fairview said in a release that the existing glass will be replaced “with the latest materials and technologies to improve energy efficiency while maintaining its classic design aesthetic”.
The project will be carried out in two phases. Construction will begin this month on the first phase which spans from Queen Street to the Centre Court, while work on the north end will commence in March of 2023. Zeidler Architecture Inc. is involved with the refurbishment along with Read Jones Christoffersen consulting engineers, with construction overseen by EllisDon Corporation. Canadian architect Eberhard Zeidler who conceptualized the centre died last week at the age of 95.
“As the original architects of the galleria, we’re honoured to play a continuing role in one of the city’s most iconic buildings. This revitalization will ensure the skylight roof is fit-for-purpose and sustainable in the long term, all while retaining its original architectural splendor,” said David Collins, Partner at Zeidler Architecture Inc.
Some important artwork will be temporarily removed for the galleria glass retrofit. The “Flight Stop” art installation, which depicts sixty Canada geese mid-flight, will be removed and stored temporarily while the roof is replaced. Law school students will recall “Flight Stop” from a lawsuit in the early 1980s when artist Michael Snow successfully sued the landlord by winning an injunction to remove red ribbons placed on the geese, setting precedent for creator ‘moral rights’.
CF Toronto Eaton Centre opened to the public in 1977 and it immediately became a draw. The centre’s construction was controversial and involved the demolition of retail storefronts along Yonge Street as well as a former multi-level Eaton’s flagship store at the south end of the site. The new shopping centre was unlike anything seen in downtown Toronto with its expanse of glass and hundreds of retail stores contained within a weather-protected environment.
“At Cadillac Fairview we are proud to continually invest in our properties to deliver a world-class shopping experience,” said Wayne Barwise, Executive Vice President of Development at Cadillac Fairview. “The galleria’s original design was inspired by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Italy and has served as a distinguishing feature of the mall since the centre’s opening in 1977. As custodians of this unique architectural element, our priority is to ensure the integrity of its design as we significantly enhance its functional performance.”
Cadillac Fairview also announced that it will invest an additional $17 million to improve shoppers’ movement and accessibility at CF Toronto Eaton Centre with the addition of three new staircases in the South Court and Urban Eatery, improvements to elevators in the mall, and the installation of a larger cab in an existing elevator to better accommodate strollers and mobility scooters. Cadillac Fairview said that the enhancements will facilitate convenient connections while creating “a more welcoming environment throughout the property”.
CF Toronto Eaton Centre is the largest urban shopping centre in North America and prior to the pandemic it was possibly the busiest retail centre in the world with over 50-million annual visitors. Over the past 12 years, Cadillac Fairview has invested a whopping $1.6 billion into CF Toronto Eaton Centre, making it the second largest shopping centre asset in Canada after West Edmonton Mall in terms of retail square footage.
Investments in the centre since 2010 included the addition of the Hudson’s Bay building and adjacent 401 Bay Street office tower that were acquired by Cadillac Fairview for $650 million in early 2014, ushering in updates that included the addition of a new Saks Fifth Avenue store within the Hudson’s Bay building in 2016. Cadillac Fairview then spent millions to build a new pedestrian bridge between Hudson’s Bay/Saks and CF Toronto Eaton Centre which was unveiled in 2017. Other major investments to CF Toronto Eaton Centre included buying back the Sears space in 2013 for the redevelopment and 2016 opening of Nordstrom and other tenants including Uniqlo and Samsung, and this year a new BMO Urban Campus will open above. Other major upgrades in 2011 to CF Toronto Eaton Centre included a $120 million investment to replace flooring and hand railings among other updates.