Yorkdale set for expansion

[attach]3624[/attach]It’s getting bigger.

Yorkdale Shopping Centre announced at the end of January it will spend $220 million on an expansion that would see 40 new stores being added to the retail mix.

The addition, which will be built in the parking lot outside Sears on the south-west end of the Allen Road and Highway 401 mall, would also see a new underground parking garage housing 800 parking spots. Plans are also underway to relocate the existing food court to the now vacant third level of the former Eatons store.

General manager Anthony Casalanguida says that a 10 percent increase in the mall’s revenues for 2009–2010 demonstrate that the demand is there for such an expansion.

Additionally, Casalanguida says the 2005 expansion, which added 40 stores to the space formerly occupied by Eaton’s, generated an additional one million visitors.

Though it’s too early to release the names of the incoming tenants — some deals go sideways, Casalanguida says — Yorkdale will be releasing more information in the mid-summer and late fall. But he says they’re looking to mirror the first-to-market stores they’ve recently brought in such as Tiffany and Crate and Barrel. A few existing stores may also be expanded, he says.

[attach]3630[/attach]The new food court, which will include an outdoor patio and double the seating, will be like a sanctuary, he says, that will house more health-conscious eating options in addition to the burgers and fries. Reusable tableware — stainless steel cutlery, glass cups and laminate plates — will reduce waste by 85 percent. The expansion will also feature a 65,000 square foot green roof that will make the mall eligible for silver certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Though some media reports have indicated that the mall will have an additional 800 parking spots and thereby increase traffic on Dufferin Street, Casalanguida says the underground lots are pretty much replacing the ones that will be lost with the addition.

He says he doesn’t see the mall’s plans adding to the problems on Dufferin, and that the new subway expanding north will lessen traffic and diminish the park-and-ride phenomenon that is currently happening in the mall’s lot. A new direction for the mall is thinking more about its impact on the community. As part of the expansion, Yorkdale will partner with the city and fully fund a revitalization project in the public park close to the mall, which has had a bad reputation in the past.

“I think Yorkdale needs to reach out more than it has in the past,” Casalanguida says.

“We don’t want to put up barriers.”