Earlier this week the Ottawa Business Journal reported that Cadillac-Fairview has taken over full management of the Rideau Centre after taking over full ownership last year. This is huge for retail in Ottawa.
When I first moved to Ottawa from Toronto I was very disappointed with the shopping mall experience. I was used to malls like Square One, Yorkdale and the Eaton Centre. What I even found disappointing was the state of the Rideau Centre especially after finding out Cadillac-Fairview were the owners (part-owners at the time). I even e-mailed Cadillac-Fairview to express my disappointment. I'd grown up shopping at their malls- Eaton Centre, Pickering Town Centre, Fairview Mall, Sherway Gardens, Markville Shopping Centre- and I knew what they were capable of. In my opinion Cadillac-Fairview is partly responsible for the great shopping experience in Toronto.
I've already spoken to Ottawans who aren't very optimistic about the future of the Rideau Centre even with Cadillac-Fairview taking over. My response is they only do things well. I've never seen them do a bad job on anything.
Now that the mall expansion is a slam dunk what other influence will Cadillac-Fairview have on the capital?
What I'm really waiting for is for CF to bring their Shops at Don Mills concept -the open air mall- to Ottawa. I discovered the Shops at Don Mills a few months before moving to Ottawa and was stunned at the experience.
Imagine the brands you know and love arranged in the form of pedestrian friendly boutiques. At the centre of the development is a public square surrounding by shops. Outside of the shops you find offices and condos. Aside from the regular mall brands you find European retailers and a Whole Foods-type food store.
The Shops at Don Mills is everything the Trainyards could have been but unfortunately isn't. Last month CF and Armadale Properties filed an application with the City of Markham to bring a similar development to the Buttonville Airport site.
I'll be thankful for the Rideau Centre expansion but soon after I'm hoping CF brings the open air mall concept to Ottawa. We sure have the money to support it.