Yorkdale Shopping Centre

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Yorkdale Shopping Centre
Yorkdale Mall.jpg
The main entrance to Yorkdale
Location 3401 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
M6A 2T9
Opening date February 26, 1964 (1964-02-26)
Developer Trizec Corporation
Management Oxford Properties
Owner Oxford Properties/OMERS (50%)
Alberta Investment Management Corporation (50%)[1]
Architect John Graham Jr.[2]
No. of stores and services 250
No. of anchor tenants 6
Total retail floor area 1,700,000 sq ft (160,000 m2) (soon to be 1,845,725 ft2)
No. of floors 6
Public transit access TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg Yorkdale subway station and bus terminal
Website www.yorkdale.com

Yorkdale Shopping Centre, or simply Yorkdale, is a major retail shopping mall in North York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located several kilometres northwest of Downtown Toronto at the interchange of Highway 401 and Allen Road, adjacent to the Yorkdale subway station.

Yorkdale is the fourth largest shopping mall in the country and has the highest sales per unit area of any mall in Canada.[3] It surpasses Vancouver's Pacific Centre, with current merchandise sales levels at roughly CA$1,610/square foot.[3] At 18 million annual visitors, it is the country's busiest mall.[4] The mall contains over 250 stores, including many luxury retailers. Many international companies have opened their first retail locations in Canada at Yorkdale, including Apple, Microsoft, Tesla Motors, White House Black Market and The Cheesecake Factory.

Yorkdale is currently owned by a joint venture between the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System through its subsidiary Oxford Properties Group and the Alberta Investment Management Corporation.[1]


Construction and design[edit]

In the 1950s, the department store chain T. Eaton & Co. bought a 40-hectare (99-acre) site at Dufferin Street and Highway 401 for a new massive, suburban location. In 1958, rival department store chain Simpson's purchased a 8-hectare (20-acre) site to the east and the plan to build the complex was announced that year. Design of the mall was given to the Seattle firm of John Graham Consultants, except for the Simpson's store, designed by John Andrews of John B. Parkin Associates.[2] Howard Lesser was the planning and development consultant. Using Lesser's market research, the developers determined how much floor space to give up to each category of retailer, and chose retailers who would appeal to a broad range of shoppers.[2]

The mall opened on February 26, 1964, under ownership from the Trizec Corporation.[5] Its gross leasable area (GLA) was over 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2), by far the biggest in Canada at the time. It was also one of the largest shopping centres in the world. When it opened, Yorkdale was the first Canadian mall to include two major department stores: Simpson's and Eaton's, under the same roof. It was built at a cost of $40 million.[6] Before large suburban malls like Yorkdale became popular, most people in the Toronto area did their major shopping downtown. Yorkdale was at the edge of the urbanized city.[2] The new shopping centre had required the construction of the Spadina Expressway, later renamed Allen Road, as the developers would not proceed until the freeway was approved for construction.[2]

The mall was constructed with a novel system for its retailers to receive merchandise. While other Canadian shopping centres had their receiving doors located at the back side, Yorkdale was constructed with a one-way, two-laned road for trucks running beneath the centre that leads directly to retailers' basement storages.[5] The design of the mall included a 60-foot (18 m) tall atrium, 40-foot (12 m) wide halls and 27-foot (8.2 m) tall ceilings. The corridors still retain this look and feel although renovations in 2006 replaced the ceilings, windows, floors and skylights.

Universal Man in front of former Simpsons department store, 2011

Expansions and renovations[edit]

The Universal Man statue in the west parking lot was relocated from the base of the CN Tower to accommodate the construction of the Rogers Centre (then known as SkyDome) in 1987 and relocated to Yorkdale in 1994.

In 1999, Yorkdale completed a major overhaul adding a Rainforest Café restaurant, a Famous Players SilverCity movie theatre (which has since been taken over by Cineplex Entertainment), and an Indigo Books and Music store on the north side of the mall, facing Highway 401.

In 2005, a $60 million expansion on the former site of its Eaton's department store increased the size of Yorkdale to 1,404,646 sq ft (130,495.9 m2),[7] and increased the number of stores from about 210 to 260. A highlight of this expansion was the construction of a 60-foot (18 m) high glass atrium running 300 feet (91 m) in length, which hangs from an exterior support structure. The expansion added Old Navy, Zara, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, and Home Outfitters as sub-anchors. This gave Yorkdale the title of the third largest mall in Ontario after Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga and Toronto Eaton Centre, ahead of Scarborough Town Centre in terms of retail floor space.

The renovation project continued into 2006 and 2007. This renovation matched the earlier sections of the mall to the style of the 2005 expansion. Key elements of this project included new public washrooms, opening of a Moxie's Grill & Bar restaurant, and new sliding automatic doors at all entrances.[8] An advertising campaign, branded as "Change It Up!" was launched in conjunction with the renovation and redevelopment, winning a MAXI Award from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in 2007.[9]

Expansion continued in the second half of the decade. In April 2008, Yorkdale opened a Michael Kors store. Later additions included Armani Exchange, bebe, Crate & Barrel, BOSS store, and a Tiffany & Co.

In January 2011, Yorkdale announced another expansion, adding another 145,000 sq ft (13,500 m2), sufficient for 40 store fronts, and 800 underground parking spaces.[10] This new wing takes the space of the southwest parking lot. The expansion also relocated and double the number of seats at the food court, improve public access, and landscape portions of the property.[10] The expansion, costing $35 million, was opened in the summer of 2012, and completed in November 2012. The existing food court was relocated to a new location on the third level of the former Eaton's department store. The new food court, named "Dine on 3" covers 45,000 sq ft (4,200 m2) and features 18 different eateries. The area of the former food court was redeveloped into a new wing, which housed new stores including a Microsoft Store and a Tesla showroom, as well as a larger Apple Store. The new parking garage was built below the wing.

In June 2013, Sears Canada announced the closing of their store at Yorkdale.[11] The former Sears space is used for Sporting Life and Restoration Hardware (branded as RH), both opened on October 19, 2017.[12]

In April 2013, Yorkdale announced a $330 million expansion, which will add an additional 298,000 sq ft (27,700 m2) of retail, featuring a three-level 188,000 sq ft (17,500 m2) Nordstrom store and a Uniqlo store. This project involved the closure of the Rainforest Café (at Yorkdale since 1999), as well as the demolition of the multi-level parking garage at the southeast of the complex bordering Yorkdale Road. The project began in January 2014 and the new wing opened for business in late 2016.[13]


Two stabbings occurred at the mall in 2008. In the first half of 2013, two shootings occurred at the mall. The first one took place in the external surface lot late on a Saturday night in March 2013, leaving one man dead and one man injured.[14] In May 2013, a man was injured by shots fired into the Joey restaurant at midnight on a Friday night.[15] Yorkdale upgraded its security with a new $3.4 million video surveillance system that went into service in March 2014. The new system provides full 360-degree surveillance of the mall and the parking lots. It also includes licence plate recognition technology at parking entrances.[16]


Retail mix[edit]

When first opened, Yorkdale had a large number of clothing retailers along with large department stores in the mix of stores. Yorkdale was the first Canadian mall to include two major department stores: Simpson's and Eaton's, under the same roof. Yorkdale was the only shopping centre to have all three Canadian department stores as tenants; The Bay, Eaton's, and Sears Canada, until Eaton's went bankrupt in 1999 and its space was redeveloped into a new wing that opened in 2005.

Since the late 1990s onward, Yorkdale's management has focused on attracting luxury brand retailers, especially those selling clothing and accessories, as well as high-end electronics, a strategy also adopted by Sherway Gardens.[17] These include Versace, Bulgari, Burberry, Cartier, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Kate Spade, Tory Burch, Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Apple, and Bose. Yorkdale has also attracted American and international retailers seeking to expand to Canada. Yorkdale bought out the lease of Sears in 2014 to reallocate that space for higher-priced department stores.

Unlike other major malls in Toronto, such as Toronto Eaton Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, Sherway Gardens, and Fairview Mall, Yorkdale does not have grocery store (aside from Shoppers Drug Mart, which does not sell fresh food), discount store or big box store tenants. However, in the vicinity of Yorkdale, there are factory outlets and discount stores nearby on Orfus Road, while big box stores such as Best Buy, Costco, and Home Depot are located on Dufferin Street just north of Highway 401. Lawrence Square Shopping Centre to the south on Lawrence Avenue serves the local community and primarily has discount stores, Canadian Tire, and Loblaw's Fortinos grocery store.

Yorkdale places a requirement on each tenant to renovate regularly. When each tenant renews its lease with the mall, they are required to renovate their store.[5]

Canadian firsts[edit]

Yorkdale has been the point of entry into the Canadian market for many widely known international commercial enterprises. Companies that have opened or plan on opening their first Canadian store at Yorkdale include:[18]

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, more than 30 American retailers contacted mall management, wanting to open their first Canadian stores in Yorkdale after Crate & Barrel revealed that their first store outside the United States would open here in 2008.[9]

Yorkdale's Nordstrom was the fourth location in Canada, opening after the locations at the Toronto Eaton Centre, Calgary's Chinook Centre and Ottawa's Rideau Centre. Yorkdale's Uniqlo store was the second of it's kind in Canada when they opened in late 2016, a few months after the first Uniqlo opened at the Toronto Eaton Centre the previous September. Yorkdale's Lego Store is the second one in Canada after the first opened at Fairview Mall.[13][26][27]

Anchor stores[edit]

  • Holt Renfrew[28] — A luxury brand clothing and accessories department store. (65,047 sq ft (6,043.1 m2))[19]
  • Hudson's Bay[28] — Originally Simpson's, opened in 1964. (300,870 sq ft (27,952 m2))[19]

Former anchors[edit]

  • Eaton's — Opened in 1964, the location was acquired by Sears Canada in 1999 after the decline and bankruptcy of the Eaton's company. The store was completely renovated in 2000, and reopened as part of Sears' upscale "Eaton's" experiment. Eaton's, however, proved to be unprofitable, and the store was once again closed in 2002. Sears itself temporarily occupied the location from 2002–03 while its current store was undergoing expansion. The space has since been renovated as a new mall corridor consisting of large multi-level stores such as Old Navy, Zara, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, and Home Outfitters as sub-anchors, completed in 2005.
  • Simpson's — Opened in 1964. Simpson's was acquired by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1978. The Yorkdale location continued to operate under the Simpson's name. In 1991, the Yorkdale location as well as all other Simpson's stores were converted to the traditional Hudson's Bay department stores.
  • Dominion — A grocery store chain, operating under the Food Emporium banner. Holt Renfrew has occupied this space since the 1990s. Since then, Shoppers Drug Mart is the only store in Yorkdale to sell groceries, albeit without fresh food such as produce.
  • Famous Players — A six-screen theatre was located in the area west of the bus terminal and was demolished after the 'SilverCity' complex opened in 1999. Yorkdale originally housed a small two-screen theatre when the mall opened, which later expanded to three screens, and once again in 1986 to six screens. The original two-screen theatre, known as "Yorkdale Theatres", was the first dual auditorium facility of its kind in Canada when the mall first opened.[29]
  • Sears[28] — Was originally constructed for The Bay. When the Hudson's Bay Company merged Simpson's and The Bay, the Simpson's location was rebranded as the Bay and the Bay's store was sold to Sears. For a short period from 2002–03, the Sears store was located in the former Eaton's location as the current store was expanded and renovated. (190,000 sq ft./17,651.6 m2)[19] The store closed on March 9, 2014.[30]
  • Rainforest Café (21,221 sq ft./1,971.5 m2) — closed in January 2014 to make way for the new 298,000 sq ft (27,700 m2) wing (for Nordstrom and Uniqlo), originally opened as part of the 1999 expansion along with Indigo and SportChek.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "AIMCo 2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Alberta Investment Management Corporation. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 21, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Plummer, Kevin (February 25, 2012). "Historicist: Yorkdale Mall and the Aesthetics of Commerce". Torontoist.com. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "These Are Canada's Most Money-Making Malls". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 31, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Farooqui, Salmaan (17 November 2017). "Not a piece of cake". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 19 November 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c "Many happy returns", The Globe and Mail,Taylor Woodrow was the main contractor with Charles Waggett VP as the head construction manager. The project was finished on time and under budget. Plan Electric Company did the major electrical work for the Centre including the Eaton's Store and numerous others under the direction of its president, Sid Cohen. February 21, 2004
  6. ^ Bradbeer, Janice (September 15, 2016). "Once Upon A City: Yorkdale Mall brought shopping into the 20th century". The Toronto Star. Retrieved September 18, 2016. 
  7. ^ http://www.oxfordproperties.com/Leasing/retailInfo.asp?regID=26&cc=57151&t=S&m=RR[dead link]
  8. ^ Yorkdale is Changing it up! Archived October 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b "Presenting the 2007 MAXI Award Winners" (PDF). International Council of Shopping Centers. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 23, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2007. 
  10. ^ a b "Yorkdale Mall to add 40 stores, 800 parking spaces in $220M expansion". Toronto Star. The Canadian Press. January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  11. ^ Sears Canada to close two, possibly three, Toronto area stores | Toronto Star. Toronto Star (June 14, 2013). Retrieved on July 26, 2013.
  12. ^ "Sporting Life Founder Discusses National Expansion Plans". Retail Insider. 
  13. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 17, 2013. Retrieved June 14, 2013. 
  14. ^ "One person dead after double-shooting at Yorkdale mall | Toronto Star". Thestar.com. March 30, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Yorkdale mall shooting sends man to hospital | Toronto Star". Thestar.com. May 11, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  16. ^ Gerster, Jane (March 21, 2014). "Yorkdale Mall upgrades security in wake of shootings". Toronto Star. 
  17. ^ "Mall Wars: Yorkdale vs. Sherway: Inside the big-bucks battle for our disposable income". November 25, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f "Yorkdale Mall enlists Wayne Gretzky and the band Train to promote expansion". Toronto Star. November 13, 2012. Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Yorkdale Shopping Centre: Ground Level Floor Plan" (PDF). Oxford Properties. Retrieved May 24, 2008. 
  20. ^ Flavelle, Dana (April 4, 2007). "Yorkdale attracts top U.S. retailer". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 5, 2007. 
  21. ^ "Yorkdale welcomes Canada's first Crate and Barrel" (PDF). Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 15, 2007. Retrieved January 2, 2008. 
  22. ^ "GEOX takes off in Canada by opening its first two Canadian stores". Marketwired. Archived from the original on February 25, 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2008. 
  23. ^ "J. Crew to open first Canadian store". CBC. Retrieved 31 March 2016. 
  24. ^ Patterson, Craig (25 October 2013). "White House Black Market opens first Canadian store". Retail Insider. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  25. ^ Patterson, Craig (2 January 2014). "Tumi to open 2nd Canadian store at West Edmonton Mall". Retail Insider. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  26. ^ [1]
  27. ^ [2]
  28. ^ a b c d "Yorkdale Shopping Centre: Building Facts". Oxford Properties. Retrieved January 26, 2008. 
  29. ^ "Yorkdale Shopping Centre General Info: History". Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Archived from the original on October 22, 2007. Retrieved February 25, 2008. 
  30. ^ "Sears pulls out of up to 3 Toronto malls". CBC News. June 17, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°43′32″N 79°27′10″W / 43.725599°N 79.452696°W / 43.725599; -79.452696