WATCH: Massive $72-million Mayfair Shopping Centre makeover leads to speculation Apple Store could open in Victoria. Tess van Straaten reports.
The new — and vastly expanded — footprint of Victoria's Mayfair Shopping Centre is starting to take shape as an ambitious renovation reaches the half-way point.
"The renovation is going fabulously!" says Mayfair Shopping Centre general manager Laura Poland. "We are on track and ready to open our doors to a new Mayfair in the Fall of 2018."
The $72 million reno comes at a time when retail giants like Sears are failing, online shopping is booming, and many are questioning the future of traditional retail. So why pour tens of millions of dollars into an expansion?
"The reason that we are putting all that money in is for the experience," Poland explains. "If you aren't able to offer an experience that's more than just the transaction online, you run the risk of running into troubles."
The new-and-improved Mayfair will be brighter and easier to navigate and include cutting-edge services like a texting concierge that can immediately answer questions for shoppers and even those not at the mall who might be wondering whether an item is in stock. But will it be enough to draw customers in?
"I think it will be definitely a lot busier in the main part (of the mall) and also for the stores that are in the new section," says Evie Frederick of Culture Craze, which has a booth at Mayfair. "So far, things seem to be picking up already with just the minor renovations they've done in the main part."
The renovation will add 100,000 square feet of retail space and that's leading to lots of rumours about who might move in.
Sources, who asked not to be named, told CHEK News that Chapters, H&M and the Apple Store are among the popular retailers who may have signed leases but mall management wouldn't comment.
"I can't confirm any retailers at this point," Poland says. "It's normal practice in our industry to let our retailers make those announcements."
Poland says she hopes to have an update soon on some of the new tenants, including what they're calling two new "junior anchor tenants" for the mall.