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The Globe and Mail

When your local mall becomes a construction site

How property owners safely manage the pain of updating and expanding the local mall

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At Sherway Gardens in west Toronto, a $350-million expansion and renovation of the shopping mall began in January. The work is expected to be complete in 3 1/2 years. For the mall owners and operators, the challenge is managing the project while keeping the mall safely open for business.

Christopher Lawson/Cadillac Fairview Corp.

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“We’re in the business of running first-class shopping centres with best-in-class retail shopping experiences, so that means you have to renovate from time to time,” says Finley McEwen, senior vice-president of development for mall owner Cadillac Fairview Corp. Here, part of Sherway Gardens’ north parking lot is taken over by construction. Mall expansion and construction of an underground parking lot means limited parking for shoppers until 2016.

Christopher Lawson/Cadillac Fairview Corp.

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The expansion will take Sherway Gardens up from its current 985,000 square feet to 1.3 million square feet – including a new home for U.S. department store Nordstrom.

Cadillac Fairview Corp.

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Renovations at Sherway, which was originally built in 1971 and has been owned by Cadillac Fairview since 2000, is an obligation, not an option, Mr. McEwen says. A sequential project management plan aims to ease the pain. During the crucial holiday shopping season in November and December, for example, construction will be scaled back and parking spots opened up again.

Cadillac Fairview Corp.

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In Oshawa, 60 kilometres east of Toronto, another local mall is being expanded and spruced up. Ivanhoé Cambridge has just started a $230-million renovation and expansion of the Oshawa Centre.

Ivanhoé Cambridge

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Built in 1956 as an open-air shopping centre, the indoor Oshawa Centre is the largest super regional shopping centre within the Durham region, one of the fastest-growing regions in Canada. Construction should be finished by the spring of 2016, taking the mall up from 990,000 square feet to 1.2 million square feet, allowing the addition of more than 60 new retailers.

Ivanhoé Cambridge

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“It would be so easy to go and shut an entire area down, blast it, demolish it and rebuild it,” says David Baffa, senior vice-president of retail development for Central Canada at Ivanhoé Cambridge. “But you just can’t do that.” Instead, crews work mainly at night when the mall is closed, in carefully choreographed steps to avoid inconveniencing shoppers and retailers.

Ivanhoé Cambridge

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