Arts

Downtown hub set to make biggest renovation in 30 years

 Photo courtesy of the Rideau Centre

The Rideau Centre will undergo a $360-million investment to expand the mall starting Sept. 30, making its largest renovation in 30 years.

Cadillac Fairview will expand the shopping centre in a way that city officials and developers hope will attract tourism and create a multitude of long-term jobs.

City Councillor Mathieu Fleury sees the advantages of this re-vamped shopping mall extending to University of Ottawa students.

“The University of Ottawa has been a key partner in redeveloping the downtown. We obviously want to have more student residences, but this project creates the experience for a student,” he said.  “It’s not just about the nightclubs, bars, and restaurants in the ByWard Market, it’s also the unique retail options the new [Rideau Centre] will offer.  And of course, student jobs as well.”

Peter Simons, president and general manager of La Maison Simons, said that in addition to construction the expansion will likely create 200-250 new jobs.

Another important change for students is greater accessibility. The expansion includes a connection from the new light rail transit system with two internal access points. The renovation will also be more pedestrian-friendly, with a new entrance from Rideau Street for local urbanites that want to shop.

“Both will improve customer access to Rideau Centre, which is especially important since over 50 per cent of our customers use public transit,” said Ivan Boulva, vice president of development of Cadillac Fairview.

Since the Rideau Centre is the closest shopping centre to the university, Cadillac Fairview will also cater to students by adding department store Nordstrom to the two upper levels of the former Sears location and including specialty retailers like J. Crew and Victoria’s Secret. These will complement the less expensive, fast-fashion retailers already in the shopping centre like Forever 21 and Zara.

Sal Iacono, senior vice president of development and portfolio manager at Cadillac Fairview is very optimistic about the expected increase in business created by the expansion.

“We have 22 million people coming through Rideau Centre every year and we are just going to keep growing as the renovation and expansion goes through,” he said.

“There has been a high increase in downtown living in Ottawa, and I really believe that this will continue to be a strong and growing trend,” said Iacono. “Rideau Centre will not just cater to its existing clientele and tourism, but it will be servicing a blooming population in downtown Ottawa.”

The new Rideau Centre is expected to be complete by August 2016.