I’m curious about something, readers. Do you like the new Uptown centre? Do you shop there regularly?
If you’re reading this article, I would LOVE for you to post your comments on this blog about Victoria’s newest shopping complex. Is the Uptown replacing Victoria’s traditional downtown shopping? Or is this just another mall to you?
I have mixed feelings about the Uptown myself. I’m liking it more as landscapers continue to add new plants and lessen the feeling of sterile urbanity. The new waterfall by the exterior staircase to the upper level, just outside the Walmart entrance, is also a pleasing feature.
But the traffic situation is maddening. The counter-intuitive street accesses and exits and the logjam underground parking situation make me want to scream. The fact that the Uptown has to employ staff to direct traffic in and out of its parkade is a clear sign that planners failed to visualize the awful congestion here.
I know some of you—lots of you—must be visiting Uptown, because whenever I go there, I feel drawn into a jaw-clenching adult version of musical chairs. Only once you’re inside the walled city of commerce can you see that there is no available parking, and there is no way out but the way you came in. Even more maddening, to get to the secondary upper parking lot, you must leave the complex altogether and drive completely around to the opposite side to re-enter!
Don’t imagine you’ll do better on foot, either. I made the mistake one afternoon of trying to walk around the outside from Future Shop to Best Buy. The exterior is like an impenetrable Fort Knox with vast stretches of windowless, doorless concrete. It’s as if it never occurred to the architects that a tiny human might try to approach on foot.
But putting my traffic rants aside, what’s attracting all these shoppers to Uptown?
New tenants are popping up monthly in the complex. At first, it was all whopping warehouse outlets and mall chain stores: Walmart, Future Shop, Best Buy, Shoppers Drug Mart. But over time, smaller, quirkier shops are trickling into the Uptown mix to add some variety and a more personal shopping experience.
Most recently, I made my first visit to Qoola Frozen Yogurt Bar in Uptown, and I will definitely be back for their tangy, refreshing, not overly sweetened desserts. The self-serve concept (careful: you pay by weight!) allows you to dispense flavoured or unflavoured frozen yogurt from wall spigots and heap on your choice of a toppings from a veritable buffet: from walnut pieces and assorted fresh fruits to gummy bears and chocolate-peanut-butter chunks. Yum!
What else does the Uptown have to offer? I’ve broken out the shops into various categories below to help shoppers assess the expanding list of options. Clothing stores dominate the space so far with fashions for women, men, and children.
- The Children’s Place
- Melanie Lyne
- Mexx & Mexx Kids
- Moores Clothing for Men
- Sweet Nancy’s
- Candy Cures (See my full article about Candy Cures here.)
- NEW! Good Earth Coffeehouse and Bakery
- Noodle Box
- Qoola Frozen Yogurt Bar
DRUG STORE PLUS
- NEW! Eccotique Spas & Salons
- Megson FitzPatrick Insurance Services
- Optiks International
- Rogers Wireless
- Salon Felice: An Aveda Concept Salon & Spa
- NEW! Zennkai Salon and Urban Nail Spa
- Consumer Protection BC
* All photographs courtesy of Uptown
WHERE is Uptown?
It’s surprisingly difficult to pinpoint a single address for Victoria’s new Uptown shopping complex because of its sheer size. Occupying the former site of the old Town and Country Mall, Uptown is bordered on its three largest sides by Douglas Street, Saanich Road, and Blanshard Street.
Google Maps locates the Uptown at 3440 Saanich Road, and the largest anchor store in the complex, Victoria’s new Walmart Supercentre, claims 3460 Saanich Road as its resident address. But you’ll find other big-box tenants using the Uptown’s interior address, such as Future Shop at #200-3450 Uptown Boulevard.