CF Polo Park Adding New Retailers as Mall Dominates Winnipeg Market [Interview]

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Big things are happening these days at Winnipeg’s CF Polo Park – Manitoba’s premier shopping destination.

Recently the 1.2 million-square-foot mall, on two levels, welcomed first-to-market retailer, Zara, marking the retailer’s first foray into Manitoba. Located on Level 1 of the shopping centre, Zara occupies over 30,000 square feet of retail space, offering fashion for men, women and children. The centre has also opened a pop-up Knix, which will open its first permanent retail location in Winnipeg in Spring 2024.

“We are constantly evolving our retail mix and creating compelling experiences to serve and delight our customers,” said Peter Havens, General Manager, CF Polo Park. “We’re proud of our rich history in Winnipeg and supporting the city’s unique and dynamic market for retailers to launch their brands and the opening of these best in class retailers is a reflection of our commitment.

CF Polo Park (Image: Cadillac Fairview)

“Our big news is that Zara opened just prior to Black Friday and they’re certainly a first-to-market in Manitoba. They’ve been doing phenomenally well so far.”

Havens said Knix took over an existing store at the end of October with a full renovation to be done by the spring. But the brand wanted to be open in time for the busy shopping season. The permanent location will be about 2,300 square feet.

The shopping centre has about 205 tenants with an occupancy currently at about 94 per cent. CF Polo Park is considered a regional mall attracting consumers from across Manitoba as well as from Northern Ontario like Kenora and Thunder Bay and Saskatchewan too.

The past year or so has been a busy time for CF Polo Park. It started just over a year ago when Aritzia doubled its square footage into a new location while also opening an Aritzia Cafe. That kicked off other changes.

A new lululemon opened on the main level of the shopping centre. A Moose Knuckles also opened as well as Oak and Fort. About a year ago JD Sports was also added to the tenant mix.

“We’ve had a good run of some interesting tenants,” said Havens.

“There’s lots of stuff (still) happening but I can’t speak too much about it because we’re still confirming leases. Some of it is under contract but under confidentiality at this point.

“Cadillac Fairview has done a great job at Polo Park. We always evolve it to make sense in the market and bring those new and notables to the centre.”

CF Polo Park (Image: Cadillac Fairview)
CF Polo Park (Image: Cadillac Fairview)

CF Polo Park is Winnipeg’s largest and busiest shopping centre, positioned in the top 20 highest performing shopping centres in Canada according to the International Council of Shopping Centre’s latest rankings. 

There are also plans for densification of the property.

“We’ve been working with the municipality to densify our site. We’re really fortunate. We have over 50 acres that can be used. It’s a pretty large unencumbered site,” said Havens. “So we’re working with the city right now and city planning to finalize those plans.

“The long-term plan would be to have upwards of 3,500 residences or various units throughout the property. The majority will be rental and obviously it’s quite far enough down the road that there might be a condo component as well. Every day in the news we hear about there’s a shortage of affordable housing and housing in general. It’s exciting to be part of the solution and when you look around the vast parking and the space around it, it will be really exciting to have that many more residential units around us and part of our mix.”

Cadillac Fairview and Shindico Unveil New Master Plan Vision for CF Polo Park (CNW Group/Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited)

Cadillac Fairview is one of the largest owners, operators, investors and developers of best-in-class office, retail, multi-family residential, industrial and mixed-use properties in North America. Wholly owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, with assets under management of more than $30 billion, CF manages over 35 million square feet of leasable space at 68 landmark properties across Canada, including Toronto-Dominion Centre, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Tour Deloitte, CF Carrefour Laval, CF Chinook Centre and CF Pacific Centre.

Havens said there’s been lots of opportunity coming out of the pandemic. The pandemic was like a wildfire for retail. Tenants were struggling. Some didn’t make it through the tough challenge.

“But those that were strong and were able to capitalize and saw the business of retail have done well. That’s why I think in the past 12 to 15 months we’ve seen a number of tenants expand, renovate. The example of Zara spending the dollars to come to Winnipeg and making another store in their portfolio. They see the opportunity to grow and to solidify their future. I think that’s been really good, especially for a city like Winnipeg. We certainly not very often get a first to Canada retailer. It’s just the nature of our market but when brands come here they typically do really well,” said Havens.

Mario Toneguzzi
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 is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

1 COMMENT

  1. Nice to see Zara at Polo Park Mall I live in Vancouver used to live in WPG store looks great when I go home I will visit the location.

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