THE BEGINNING - 1971
A fully leased Sherway Gardens opened to rave reviews on February 24, 1971. At this time, with 850,000 square feet of leasable area and 127 stores, Sherway Gardens was one of the largest shopping complexes in North America. This $21.5 million project was masterminded by the Maryland based Rouse Company, but owned by Sherway Centre Limited – a wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary. Over 2,000 construction workers laboured on the project with an estimated 2,700 retail jobs created in the stores.
Originally anchored by Eaton’s and Simpsons, each at 220,000 square feet on three floors, the centre was a lazy “S” shape and included both Loblaw’s and Dominion stores.
At the centre of the “S” a 1,600 square foot promotional court, named Sherway Square, was infused with natural light from a 31 foot high skylight. This was, and continues to be, the heart of the centre’s activities including fashion shows, community events and other promotional activities.
Lauded for its imaginative planning, Sherway’s unique floor plan eliminated the hanger-like design of some shopping centres by creating a multitude of smaller malls with intimate low ceilings, interspersed with gardens filled with a variety of living plants. Garden benches throughout the malls provided shoppers with a place to rest their feet before continuing with their shopping experience. The unique garden areas in Sherway were each designed with a specific theme, and ranged from tropical gardens with 20 foot palm trees, to a sandy desert garden filled with cacti, and a Japanese garden complete with traditional water and stone features.
The original Sherway design also incorporated a picnic-type area called Gourmet Fair – one of the very first food courts in North America. Twenty-seven eateries, featuring an international assortment of food including German, Chinese, Hawaiian, Italian and southern U.S.A. catered to almost every taste. A butcher, fruit market and florist were also part of the original food court offerings.
One of the more unique features of the new centre included an Auditorium or Community Hall, with a seating capacity of 300 - complete with a stage for theatrical presentations.
In 1975, the original “S’ shape was turned into a figure 8 with the addition of another 75 stores.
HOLT RENFREW WING - 1987
In 1987, Sherway Gardens’ Holt Renfrew store expanded and re-located into a brand new wing built specifically to connect the new Holts with the existing shopping centre. This also added another 20 stores – specifically leased as a “fashion” wing.
BRETTON’S WING - 1989
In the fall of 1989, Sherway expanded again and opened an exciting new wing on the south side of the centre, anchored by fashion department store Bretton’s. The crowning glory of this new wing was the award winning, dramatically designed and enlarged tented food court on a second level. Designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership Architects, the elaborate canopy roof earned a Canadian Consulting Engineering Award of Merit for its unique design.
The $1 million Teflon coated fabric roof was manufactured by Birdair Structures and topped the $20 million expansion. Supported by 75 foot masts, double layered and strong enough to drive a truck on, this was the first roof of its kind in Ontario. The 44,000 square foot, 75 foot high, translucent roof glowed at night and became an instant local landmark – being visible from downtown Toronto, from the QEW and Highway 427, and even from airplanes flying over Sherway on their flight paths to the airport.
CADILLAC FAIRVIEW – 2000 - Today
In fall 2000, Sherway Gardens was acquired by the Cadillac Fairview Corporation, a division of ONTREA INC. (The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund). Owned and managed by Cadillac Fairview, Sherway is now a complex of 972,540 square feet of leasable space, has 215 shops and services, and continues to be home to many influential retailers such as Apple, Coach, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Abercrombie and Hollister. Current anchors include Sears, The Bay, Holt Renfrew and Sporting Life.