Have you ever found yourself desperately prowling around Bayshore’s jam-packed parking lot on a Sunday afternoon looking for a parking spot amidst the on-going construction? Have you ever walked through Rideau Centre on a weeknight trying to guess what’s going on inside the former Sears store near Mackenzie King Bridge?
It’s no mystery that both malls have been undergoing major renovations over the past few years. Bayshore Shopping Centre launched its $200 million Bayshore Reborn Redevelopment project in the Spring of 2012. What began with the gutting of the former Zellers store and the demolition of the multi-story parking garage is now finally starting to take shape. The demolition has made way for a new 5-story parking garage and a new retail wing what will house the long-awaited Target store. An expanded and redesigned food court has opened in August boasting close to three times the seating capacity of the old one. The interior of the mall has also been undergoing a major facelift with new flooring and lighting being installed.
The ongoing improvements and the expansion in retail space have attracted a string of high-profile retailers including H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Zara, Pandora and soon-to-arrive Forever 21 featuring men’s clothing. A new anchor retailer, Target, is also set to open before the redevelopment project is wrapped in 2015.
Rideau Centre has launched its own $360 million redevelopment project slated for completion in 2016. Similar to Bayshore, this project will include major interior enhancements including a new 35,000 square foot dining hall that was unveiled in August. The new dining area features reusable dishes, glassware, and cutlery with the aim of reducing waste generated from disposable food containers. New quartz flooring, ceiling treatments and washroom renovations will all be part of the redevelopment, as well as a redesigned entrance on Rideau Street. A new three-level parking garage is also in the works.
On the retailer front, Rideau will get a major boost with the arrival of American retail giant Nordstrom. The luxury department store is currently taking shape in the vacant space formally occupied by Sears, and is anticipated to open in March of next year. Simons, a Quebec-based high-end fashion retailer is also set to open its new location at Rideau Centre. Other major additions will include J. Crew, Victoria’s Secret, and a new flagship Zara store.
Stepping-back for a moment, and looking beyond all the construction in the city, it is clear that something big is in the works in Ottawa. We are in the midst of a major retail expansion with the introduction of big-name American and international brands. With all the added options that will be available to shoppers in town, we may see a decrease in the amount of local residents that choose to spend their money shopping in Montreal, Toronto or the States. The major mall expansions in Ottawa and the new Tanager Outlets in Kanata should give local shoppers some major incentive to spend their money locally. And who knows, in a few-years time when all the dust settles, Ottawa might just turn out to be a major shopping destination of its own.
Maksim Apelfeld is a contributing photographer for Ground Floor Photography, a local, Ottawa-based blog and online print shop, specializing in fine-art photographic prints for home décor.