Over the last few years, Cadillac Fairview has pumped $550 million into renovations and expansion of Sherway Gardens, one of Toronto's largest malls, located where the QEW, the Gardiner, and the 427 all meet in Etobicoke. First opening in 1971, the S-shaped mall featured Simpsons and Eaton's as anchors, a Loblaws, and the city's largest food court named Gourmet Fair. The mall has expanded and morphed several times over the years, and it's about to change again with a renovation of the south hall and a new Nordstrom department store on the expanded footprint of Sporting Life's previous location.

The rebuilt south hall at Sherway Gardens coming together last week, image by Craig White

The south hall itself was part of an expansion that moved the original Gourmet Fair upstairs, added new shops on the main floor, and a Bretton's Department store where the Loblaws once was. Sporting Life replaced Bretton's when it closed, and then Sporting Life itself moved to a spectacular new space in the North Expansion when it opened in September 2015, the first phase in the current round of upgrades to the 200-store mall.

Workers lay French limestone tiles in the rebuilt south hall, image by Craig White

The rebuilt south hall will open on Tuesday, August 29, and in it shoppers will find Saje and Loding—two stores relocated from other parts of the mall, along with six other first-timers to Sherway; a 32,000 ft² Zara store on two levels, upscale gummy candy retailer Squish, Oakville-based Danish Pastry House, eyeglasses retailer BonLook, shoe shop L'Intervalle, and sport shoes retailer Nike. Shoppers will have to wait until September 15, however, to walk through the doors at the end of the hall into the new 140,000 ft² Nordstrom.

A new textural stone wall being finished in the south expansion, image by Craig White

Design work in the south hall has been handled by the same companies as the north expansion, namely Cadillac Fairview's in-house design team, along with Gervais Harding on interior spaces, and DIALOG as Architect of Record. Sherway's ubiquitous French limestone—the mall is one of the few in the city where care has been taken to keep materials consistent—has not been forgotten, and the same seam that was mined for the halls in 1970 was sourced again for the 2017 work.

The new north hall in 2016, image by Craig White

In 2015, 50 new spaces opened for retailers in the north expansion. While several retailers that were brand new to Sherway were added to the mix, several moved from their previous spots in the mall to take advantage of larger spaces, and sometimes more extravagant designs.

Walking around with Finely McEwen, Senior Vice President of Development for Cadillac Fairview, and Andy Traynor, General Manager of Sherway Gardens, McEwen points out the entrance to Sporting Life with particular pride. "One of our designers' signature pieces is this crooked column. It made it all more difficult to design, but they were insistent, and it's an interesting touch. Kinda neat!" Left rough, the raw concrete column added to the textures of wood and stone that mark the lifestyle sporting goods store.

The multi-textured entrance to Sporting Life, image by Craig White

Traynor tells us that Gourmet Fair, or Fare since the recent move, was one of the earliest food courts in a mall in North America. It's always been one of the largest, and more successful too. It moved to the expansion in 2015 so that they could double the number of seats, now over 800. A whole range of seating in Gourmet Fare means that people wanting to plug-in and use WiFi while they eat can find spots, there are conventional tables for pairs and families, and now high-top and long tables ready to easily seat groups. (There were three groups congregating at some of the long tables while we toured about on a morning last week.)

Many retailers, including the food court, moved when the north expansion opened, image by Craig White

McEwen is proud of the custom light features manufactured in New York City that hang in the expansive food court. "Visible from a distance, if you're a passenger in a vehicle, you can see the lights from as far as the 427." No off the shelf here. "They say 'food and beverage'. This is all about hospitality." There are even photos of the artisans on the walls documenting the work that went into creating the space. "We do this to help retailers project their brand, to help customers interact with the retailers, making it a seamless transition from a retailer's online presence to the bricks and mortar."

Gourmet Fare can now seat 800 people in a variety of arrangements, image by Craig White

Just outside the windows of Gourmet Fare is The Keg. Only accessible from the outside, the restaurant has been a new hit at the mall. Located beside an entrance to an expanded parking garage with a new system that makes finding free parking spaces easy, now a Cactus Club Cafe is under construction opposite it. Cactus Club Cafe should open in the late winter or early spring of 2018.

Cactus Club Cafe currently under construction outside Gourmet Fare, image by Craig White

McEwen tells us that the recent development along the outside edge of Sherway has all been carefully planned to make the new exteriors more active. As the City of Toronto works on its Sherway Secondary Plan—a plan which is meant to drastically alter the surrounding landscape in the coming decades by adding more residential, more office and more park space while moving parking underground—Sherway Gardens' edge along its encircling ring road will become more active, with many more new doors to come. "We take our role seriously, and like to make a net-positive contribution in communities where we develop our projects." Sherway's own remaining surface parking lots will likely be incorporated into redevelopment sites in coming decades, surrounding the mall with towers and mid-rises. Along with new parking below, a right-of-way is being protected for a possible future station on an extension of the Bloor-Danforth subway line.

Construction of new stores is about to begin where Holt Renfrew stood, image by Craig White

Some of the exterior activation will come with another 40,000 ft² of space in the north expansion where Holt Renfrew once was. Seen in the image above behind the white fence, four retailers are confirmed to be opening in that space in 2018—unnamed as yet—with another 2 or 3 opening at an undetermined time beyond that. While McEwen was not specific regarding how many of the 7 would face the interior and how many would face the exterior, the treatment for some of the retailers will be similar to the Joey restaurant, The Keg, and the Cactus Club Cafe where access will be from the sidewalk. The Indigo store, seen above, has both mall access, and direct outside access as well as access through its Starbucks in-store café from the exterior.

A new parking garage has opened to the east of Nordstrom, image by Craig White

On the south side of the mall again, Nordstrom's parking structure, also outfitted with a free-spot-finding-system, is already open. Designed with a mountain-range like faceted edge by the Cadillac Fairview in-house team, Dialog are Architects of Record for it. Nordstrom has been designed by their own in-house team, with CallisonRTKL of Seattle on the exterior. As mentioned earlier, Nordstrom will open on Friday, September 15. If you want get in earlier, you can join in a pre-opening party on September 13. The event will raise money for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto, and St. Joseph's Health Care Foundation. You can get tickets at nordstromrsvp.com/sherway.

Nordstrom will open on September 15, image by Craig White

Want to know more about Sherway Gardens? You can check out our database file, linked below, for more facts and renderings. Want to talk about it? You'll find an ongoing conversation in our associated Forum thread, or you can leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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