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BRIEF: CF Sherway Gardens Marks 50 Years, Brass Rail Shutting on Yonge Amid Redevelopments

CF Sherway Gardens Marks 50 Years in Toronto

The CF Sherway Gardens shopping centre in Toronto is marking its 50th birthday this spring. The Cadillac Fairview-managed centre opened in 1971 and the centre has seen expansions over the years, resulting in it becoming one of the leading shopping centres in the country in terms of appearance and tenant mix.

The original $21.5 million shopping centre was built by The Rouse Corporation in an S-shaped configuration spanning about 850,000 square feet with 127 stores. The mall featured fountains, indoor greenery, benches and couches, as well as an intimate low ceiling design. In order to gain the best visibility from both the QEW/Gardiner Expressway and Highway 427, original anchor tenant, Eaton’s, had the mall’s design turned sideways so that its storefront was most visible. The former Eaton’s space is now occupied by Saks Fifth Avenue and Sport Chek. Simpsons was the other main anchor store at CF Sherway Gardens and that space is now occupied by a Hudson’s Bay store.

In 1975 the centre’s ‘S’ layout became a figure eight with an expansion that added 75 retailers. In 1987 Holt Renfrew opened a store in a new wing to the north where the store operated until 2016. A south wing added in 1989 included a tent-like roof structure designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership Architects — Ottawa-based upscale department store chain Brettons anchored the new wing.

In 2013 Cadillac Fairview announced a $550 million renovation and expansion that added 210,000 square feet to the shopping centre. Other changes to the centre include a new 143,000-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue store that opened in February of 2016 and a 140,000-square-foot Nordstrom store that opened in the fall of 2017. CF Sherway Gardens is one of the most productive malls in the country in terms of sales per square foot and it is also one of the largest shopping centres in Canada.

“For five decades, CF Sherway Gardens has provided a welcoming space for community members to come together to experience the best of retail, dining and vibrant seasonal and celebratory moments,” said Martin Wray, Vice President of Retail Operations, Cadillac Fairview. “It has been an honour to evolve alongside our community, and we look forward to a time when we can celebrate these special moments together.” 

“Our team is committed to creating meaningful community connections while providing consumers with safe and memorable experiences and access to top retailers, restaurants and services to meet their needs,” said Andy Traynor, General Manager, CF Sherway Gardens. “From day one we’ve garnered strong regional support and built a true sense of togetherness with local patrons, which continues to be our priority and is a testament to our longstanding success.” 

The Brass Rail on Yonge Street, Friday April 2. Photo: Craig Patterson

Brass Rail Tavern Strip Bar to Close on Yonge Street Amid Area Changes

The Globe & Mail this week reported that the Brass Rail Tavern strip club at 701 Yonge Street, south of Bloor Street, is set to be redeveloped as part of changes happening within the area. The 0.21-acre site could fetch about $32 million according to market estimates amid booming land values in Toronto’s downtown core.

Redevelopment of the block signals significant changes to the Yonge Street strip south of Bloor Street, which has also seen other recent developments directly on Bloor. That includes the 1 Bloor Street East commercial podium, now owned by First Capital REIT, which is anchored by a Nordstrom Rack store. The ONE at 1 Bloor Street West is under construction and is expected to be a draw when an Apple retail store opens on the corner in a couple of years. A University of Toronto-owned residential building at the northwest corner of Yonge and Charles Street will see its retail podium renovated as well, and last year a revitalized heritage renovation to the south included the opening of a two-level Shoppers Drug Mart store.

The revitalization of the area is expected to again see a more upscale retail mix move southward along Yonge Street. In decades past, several upscale fashion stores such as Allan Cherry and Alan Goouch operated in the area, along with international brands such as Benetton. New developments have in some instances changed the character of Yonge Street from small pedestrian-friendly storefronts to larger podium formats at the base of tower structures, causing some concern among heritage preservationists.

Sundays at 113 Ossington Avenue. Photo by Dustin Fuhs

Vancouver-Based Furniture Brand ‘Sundays’ Opens Pop Up Store in Toronto’s Downtown

Canadian furniture brand, Sundays, has opened a pop up shop In Toronto at 113 Ossington Avenue. After the success of its two previous pop ups in Vancouver, along with a rapidly-growing digital following, the brand is giving Torontonians the opportunity to touch, feel, and experience Sundays in person.

“Despite the pandemic and growing digital trends, there is something truly special about walking into a brick and mortar store,” says Noah Morse, Co-Founder and Director of Product Development and Design. “E-commerce and new business models have made goods more affordable and transparent, but walking into a shop, touching the fabrics, seeing the pieces, and having a human to interact with is an irreplaceable experience.”

The space is described as being relaxed, bright, and welcoming, and showcases Sundays’ furniture “as if it were in your own home”. On display are bestselling pieces such as the Movie Night sofa and the Field Dining table, as well as pieces from the growing bedroom and outdoor collections.

The surrounding neighbourhood was a deciding factor for Sundays when choosing a location for the pop up. Since Ossington is mostly made up of small, local brands, Sundays said that it would be right at home in the popular urban hotspot.

In addition to its own furniture, Sundays integrated local Toronto products into its pop up experience. Products from brands such as Euclid Farms and ENSEMBL are also available to customers.

Downtown Toronto bar advertising patio season before the most recent lockdown was implemented Ontario, forcing closures. Photo: Dustin Fuhs

Newly-Announced Ontario Lockdowns to Hit Retailers

On Thursday Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, announced a ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown for at least 28 days that will see recently-opened restaurant patios shut again. The Retail Insider team in Toronto has been touring neighbourhoods since patios were allowed to open on March 20 and we noticed a distinct increase in foot traffic in areas throughout the city.

Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville area once again became vibrant after extended lockdowns over the winter months. While retailers were permitted to again open at 25% capacity on March 8, it was the reopening of restaurant patios that saw a renewed vibrancy to the neighbourhood.

It is questionable if outdoor dining had led to COVID-19 transmission, and business owners and the public are becoming increasingly angry at repeated shutdowns. Retail areas such as Bloor-Yorkville and others will again struggle with reduced foot traffic as ‘destination ecosystems’ are shut down with in-person dining options limited.

Circle K Opening Steps Away from Bloor Street Luxury Run

A Circle K convenience store is under construction at 202 Bloor Street West. The store will be located at the base of a condominium building that was completed in 2017. The space has been for lease since then and the other commercial tenant in the building is a McDonald’s restaurant.

The 202 Bloor podium is located a few steps west of Avenue Road, and is considered to be the marker for the luxury stretch of Bloor Street West that extends eastward towards Holt Renfrew and Yonge Street. The luxury run currently has several vacancies, and brokers working in the area say several offers have already been made for vacated retail spaces, including the former Club Monaco store at 157 Bloor Street West and the former Gap store at 60 Bloor Street West.

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