Fairview Pointe-Claire – In December of 2018, Cadillac Fairview along with partner Ivanhoe Cambridge announced plans for a $30 million redevelopment of the Fairview Pointe-Claire shopping mall. If you are a frequent shopper at the center or have visited recently, you probably noticed some renovation work already going on. However, there is a lot more happening behind the scenes and the transformation of the 55-year-old center is well into gear. Many people, especially those living in the West Island, have been curious as to what to expect as the work takes place. In an interview with Jeroen Henrich, Vice-President of Development at Cadillac Fairview last Friday February 7th, I had the opportunity to get answers to some questions. From the history of the mall, the renovations and phases of work, to the eventual opening of the REM station, he had much to offer.
THE MALL HAS COME A LONG WAY SINCE 1965: Fairview Mall was one of their first shopping centers. It began as a single-storey shopping center, in a field with no development around it at all. The South wing, which is now where Old Navy and Renaud-Bray are, was built later and they added a second floor to the center. Eaton, which then became Sears (which will soon house Simons) actually started as a two-storey store and then became three-storeys. “This shopping center has gone through significant change… always with the idea of staying relevant and exciting,” Jeroen said. The last renovations at Fairview were quite some time ago, so they are making some significant modifications; all new flooring, glass railings with a very contemporary look and LED lighting – all in line with their ‘Green At Work’ program. They are clearly very conscious about energy consumption and investing heavily into more efficient lighting. “It will be a totally fresh look,” he added.
Fairview Pointe-Claire renovations – what to expect!
“It’s a running shopping center, so we are trying to be mindful to not cause any disruption.” Some of the work has already begun and they are on schedule. “It’s pretty exciting. We also have the new dining hall moving from the upstairs location down to the Sears ground floor – that will be opening this fall. Sears was a big one, it is three storeys… with Simons to take over the 2nd and 3rd floor”. Simons will open about a year later (August 2021) and by that time, it is expected the renovations will be complete inside the mall. “It’s a really great thing for the West Island… we don’t have a Simons (there). We’ve had a great partnership with them. They are in all of our shopping centers in Quebec, Carrefour Laval, Les Galeries D’Anjou, Promenades St.Bruno and now at Fairview Pointe-Claire. The project is a little over $60 million (with the new dining hall) and the other renovations in the mall will cost around $30 million, in total, close to 100 million.” The new ‘sleek and modern’ look was created by GH+A Design Studios.
Fairview Pointe-Claire renovations in progress
“What we call the center court… it’s really smack in the middle of the center, you’ll see we already started demolishing some of the planters, we also took out some of the fountains and those are being replaced with some seating areas, so that has already taken place. In the South corridor, where the Renaud-Bray and Old Navy are situated, the ceilings have come out already and then the West mall, which is basically the old Sears corridor, where Simons and Dining Hall are going, some of the railings have been taken down and some of the large lighting fixtures. At Fairview, we have those rather large lighting fixtures hanging from the canopy, so some of those have also started to come down. And towards the end of the renovation, you will see the entrances being changed. What we have there now is those large glass structures, they are going to be removed and we are going to have four or five sleek, new entrances. And the ceramics… we go according the corridors, and not to get too technical, you want to make sure the tile is straight, so you have to start at one end and then move along towards the other end… so you will see it sort of creeping along.” Most of the work will be done at night. However, during certain stages, some work will take place during store hours, but it will be done with as little impact as possible. “Our number one priority is our customers, they want to continue shopping. And of course, our retailers – we want to make sure our retailers can get their product to the customer, so we are doing everything we can to minimize the disruption… it should almost be painless as this moves along. The shops close in the evening, (then) the trades come on site and they work throughout the night to get as much done as they can,” he explained.
NEW DINING HALL & SWITCHOVER: “The Food Court has always been an important part of a visit to the mall and there should be no disruptions for our customers when the new Dining Hall opens, there will be no downtime. The old Food Court will only close once the new one is open… from one day to next, instead of having your sandwich at the old food court, you will be having it at the new Dining Hall the next day,” he said. Although which restaurants will be there are not yet being divulged, but with its ‘sleek, new look’ and being called a ‘Dining Hall’ not a Food Court per se, it is sure to please every palate, with either new or old favourites. “We will be offering what people like and enjoy, I think they will be very happy with the new selection. There will be a combination of trusted favourites and also some new and exciting brands to shake it up a little bit.” The new Dining Hall is scheduled to open this autumn 2020 – with a Grand Opening event.
PHASES AND TIMELINE OF WORK: There are four phases of work to be done and it is challenging to give them each their own timeline. Nevertheless, Jeroen manages to explain it. “Take the flooring (for example), that’s a really big one. Laminating a running shopping center is very complicated. The flooring basically happens in piecemeal and we often do it at night to avoid any disruption. What you are going to see in the next year or so, is various pieces of the flooring being completed as we go, but at the same time we are doing the ceilings and we are doing the railings… it’s almost like you are doing a puzzle – but you are attacking it from four corners… like an image you slowly see arise as the pixels become clearer. It’s a work in progress, a lot of different people, a lot of different trades on site.” There are the ceramic, gyprock, lighting and railing workers in different areas. “It’s really like a coordinated choreography of sorts to get it all done – but in the next year or so you should slowly see it transform.”
Fairview Pointe-Claire Parking lot closures and spaces
With the REM construction going on near the back of the south side parking lot, they have been working very closely with CDPQ Infra to minimize the disruption going on. “The parking on the South side is mostly open and obviously we are very careful on busy periods to ensure that our customers can park adequately. There will be some points throughout the year, when they are continuing construction on the tracks, where we will unfortunately have to close portions of it. But there is plenty of parking… it’s human nature that people tend to go the same spots, but sometimes it’s useful just to drive around what we call the ‘Ring Road’ and there’s usually plenty of parking around the property, so I encourage people to not get discouraged if they don’t find a spot right away”.
Fairview Pointe-Claire REM, park and ride and new bus terminus
REM, PARK AND RIDE & NEW BUS TERMINUS: “We have always been very supportive of the REM project, as we believe it will greatly enhance access to public transportation… and what is also of note is there will be a new bus terminus as well. It is truly what we call a ‘TOD’, a Transport Oriented Development – with great links to Downtown, the Airport and to different parts of the island. And of course, the 18 or so bus lines that basically go in all directions – East, West, North and South. We do believe that will be a great attribute for the development to come and for the shopping center as well.”
“What about parking spots for the REM users,” I asked. “Park and Ride is really a big concern for West Islanders, many people really want to be using the system, but without adequate parking it could prove to be a major deterrent for many potential users. What is going on now between you and the REM as far as creating parking spaces?”
“Well, what I can tell you is they initially had ‘incentive parking’… which was removed as we all know,” he said, “Our primary concern has to be for our shopping center customers. We want to continue to be able to provide adequate parking, so that our retailers can thrive and our customers can continue to shop at our center.” The same applies to their other development, a large residential ‘mixed-use community’ project that will be located on the other side of Fairview Avenue. “We want to make sure we have enough parking for our development and to the extent we can come to some sort of an agreement with the authorities on parking. We will work them, but I can’t tell you I have anything to say at this time about that.” What is important is that they are still in discussions with REM officials.
“We will be doing a grand-opening of the dining hall (in the autumn). It will be an opportunity for all the dining hall tenants to showcase their new kiosks and their new offerings – and then a year later (2021) we will be working together with Simons to do an opening for their store… so stay tuned!” With close to 8 million visitors per year and being one of the top performing shopping centers in Quebec and the country, there should be much to look forward to. Check back with the Montreal Times for updates as the work progresses.