This morning Seattle-based department store chain Nordstrom Inc. announced plans to open a flagship store in Cadillac Fairview’s Toronto Eaton Centre, one of Canada's busiest and best-known retail shopping destinations. Construction of the approximately 213,000 square-foot, three-level store is set to begin this March in space currently occupied by Sears, with the store opening slated for fall 2016. Nordstrom will occupy the ground floor, second floor and third, while Sears’ head office will occupy levels 4 and above. Another 140,000 square-feet of additional space, presumably on the first floor below ground level and some at ground level, will be leased to other "best in class" retailers and redeveloped. The total cost of the redevelopment is estimated at $400 million.

This is just the latest in a long line of recent announcements about major changes coming to Toronto's retail scene. While an November article in the Globe and Mail promised that the Hudson's Bay store at Bloor and Yonge would be morphing into a Saks' Fifth Avenue, and the nearby Holt Renfrew Centre may see a complete re-do in coming years, many other projects are already under way around town.

Work progresses at Sherway Gardens' north expansion, image by BamakoWork progresses at Sherway Gardens' north expansion, image by Bamako

A few of those will also be home to a new Nordstrom store. The first Nordstrom to open in the Toronto area will be in Etobicoke at Sherway Gardens, where Cadillac Fairview is seeing an expansion which will provide the mall with an additional 250,000 square feet of retail space. The mall will be focusing on top names in fashion including Louis Vuitton and the first Henri Bendel in Canada. The $350 million project will also add a new three-storey parking structure with 1,200 parking spaces to the property. The expansion is planned to open in 2015.

Drivers will be looking for tougher-to-find places to park for a year and moreDrivers will be looking for tougher-to-find places to park for a year and more at Yorkdale Mall, image by drum118

Yorkdale Mall will see another Nordstrom location. The mall, one of the best performing on the entire continent, has been expanding steadily over the years, and hot on the heels of a $110 million dollar expansion in 2005 and a $220 million expansion in 2012, Oxford Properties is currently working on a new 298,000 square foot retail expansion, slated for completion in the Fall of 2016. The new expansion will be anchored by the 188,000 square-foot Nordstrom location, and will also provide space for other yet-to-be-announced retailers.

The east parking lot is closed pending redevelopment at Yorkdale Mall, TorontoThe east parking lot is closed pending redevelopment at Yorkdale Mall, image by drum118

In the meantime, demolition of the parking garage at the east end of Yorkdale Mall means that drivers will be inconvenienced for a period, looking for precious spots while the new expansion with its underground garage is built. Access to the mall via Yorkdale station is being maintained during this time, so those arriving via the TTC subway should not be impacted.

Demolition has started on the parking deck at Yorkdale Mall, TorontoDemolition has started on the parking deck at Yorkdale Mall, image by drum118

The expansion and revitalization of Mississauga’s largest mall, Square One, saw a major milestone last year with the completion of an $84 million renovation project which included a new Target store and a completely reworked central food court amongst other upgrades. Oxford Properties has since started a northwest expansion (seen covered in yellow insulation below), and is now planning to build a southwestern expansion to the property as well, to be anchored by a new 120,000 square-foot Holt Renfrew location with another 75,000 square feet of space for additional retailers. The northwest addition will include openings later this year, while the southwest addition is slated for completion in 2016.

Square One northwest Expansion by MMC Architecture, image by JP BombalesSquare One northwest Expansion by MMC Architecture, image by JP Bombales

This past Summer, another Missisauga mall, the Erin Mills Town Centre, announced a $100 million revitalization project – the first major renovation since the mall’s opening in 1989. The project includes modernization of the mall with a huge sphere replacing its local landmark Post Modern clock tower, plus the addition of another new Target location for the GTA.

The central square at Erin Mills Town Centre is prepared for its makeoverThe central square at Erin Mills Town Centre is prepared for its makeover, image by Jasonzed

Renovation work at the Erin Mills Town Centre is slated for completion by Summer 2015.

Stores remain open at Erin Mills Town Centre as the renovation goes on, image byStores remain open at Erin Mills Town Centre as the renovation goes on, image by Jasonzed

Back in Toronto, a whole new big-box mall will open later this year at St. Clair Avenue West at Weston Road called The Stockyards. Originally meant to open in 2013, the 554,00 square foot centre by the Trinity Group will be anchored by Target and Best Buy.

Work is under way in less suburban locations in Toronto too. Riocan’s Yonge-Eglinton Centre is seeing extensive upgrades both inside and out. While we are still to learn which new retail tenants will be moving in, the modernized interior spaces are sure to attract a new market. A new 4-storey Page + Steele / IBI Group–designed retail pavilion is being constructed in part of the former outdoor public square space along the south side of the complex. Some of the existing public plaza will remain, and be re-landscaped to improve the mall’s connection to the street.

Work on another new "mall" is taking place at a spot that is possibly the best connected in the city; at Union Station, a new 160,000 square foot retail concourse should be fully open by 2016. The build-out and leasing of the retail portion of the massive redevelopment at the venerable station is being overseen by Osmington Inc., a private development company owned by David Thomson (who also owns Thomson Reuters). Osmington stated at a meeting with the Urban Land Institute in January 2013 that the retail components of Union Station would represent a "real destination" in and of themselves. With the impressive volumes of daily commuter traffic seen at Union Station, the new retail area is sure to draw in plenty of shoppers.

Expansion is also taking place at malls further out around the GTA. To the north, Vaughan Mills Mall is expanding and renovating, while in the east, the Oshawa Centre is in the midst of a total modernization. Meanwhile, the construction of a new Target location at Mississauga's Sheridan Centre came to a sudden halt this past Monday, when a construction worker was tragically killed in the collapse of steel beams meant to support the roof of the new store. Naturally, the incident will somewhat delay construction, as an investigation and subsequent cleanup are conducted. 

We will be keeping our eyes out for more progress, as countless malls across the GTA continue to grow to try to capture the spending of the 21st century consumer. For now, dataBase files for the projects featured in this article can be found linked below, with many renderings of what is to come. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum threads, or voice your opinion in the comments section provided at the bottom of this page.