Calgary Malls Seeing New Retailers Amid Renewed Optimism

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Two of Canada’s most popular malls – CF Chinook Centre and CF Market Mall in Calgary – are undergoing major changes as the city embarks on a modest economic recovery following two years of a recession.

The two Cadillac Fairview properties’ performance will be very strong in Retail Council of Canada’s 2017 Shopping Centre Study. The second annual study is set to be released this fall.

“I think we’re seeing some positive steps in retail right now,” says Darren Milne, general manager of CF Market Mall. “Sales are getting a little bit better. We’re starting to see sales growth happening in Calgary.

“The struggle still remains that while we’re starting to see sales stabilize in Calgary you certainly are still seeing some more space coming onto the market . . . While we’re really finally starting to see some positive signs, I think retailers are still quite cautious about how things are going to be moving forward in Alberta.”

He says the redevelopment of the vacated Target space in the shopping centre has been a major project.

HomeSense has moved from a standalone building on the mall’s site to the second level of the former Target space in about 30,000 square feet. The lower level of the space will include a 40,000-square-foot Sporting Life store with its second location in Calgary which is scheduled to open in early October. 

The balance of the vacated Target space is a 30,000-square-foot Zara store, spanning two floors and scheduled to open in early October as well. 

Another major project there includes an expansion of the existing Sport Chek store where a two-level, 25,000-square-foot building is being added to the back of the current store. 

“That project is going to be quite a ways out from being complete because they’re doing a full store reno at the same time,” says Milne. “You’ll start to see changes happening here slowly over the next six months for sure.”

The underground parkade is also being expanded to add about 100 extra stalls, bringing the total to about 770. That will be completed in about a month.

A standalone building on the west side of the mall, which has housed HomeSense and Staples for a number of years, will also face a major redevelopment.

Milne says construction will start in late September with part of the site becoming a Saks OFF FIFTH store scheduled to open in late 2018. The other half of that site will be a new retail venture that has not been announced yet. The current Staples store will be closing towards the end of September.

“Certainly we’ve added a lot of new tenants to CF Market Mall over the last four years and we still have a few more to go,” says Milne. “Levi’s is going to open here next month.”

Paige O’Neill, general manager at CF Chinook Centre, says foot traffic at the mall has dipped a little but it’s still averaging more than one million visitors per month.

She says the mall is experiencing a lot of movement with retailers and it is looking at specialty leasing opportunities with independents or specialty retailers to fill some vacated spaces due to company bankruptcies.

And CF Chinook is “working diligently to backfill them with permanent lease deals,” she adds.

Canada Goose recently announced it would be opening a store at CF Chinook. Nepresso will also be moving into a permanent location. Naturalizer shoes will be moving to a new space. And NYX Cosmetics will open a store at CF Chinook. Marble Slab Creamery is also relocating. La Vie en Rose will be moving into the former space occupied by Pink, which has moved to a location within the Victoria’s Secret store.

“Victoria’s Secret completely renovated their store to its newest concept,” says O’Neill. 

“We’re just gearing up for some more moves and some more renos.”

The full luxury Saks Fifth Avenue store is expected to open in early February 2018 in the 115,000 square feet of space, on two levels, vacated by Target a few years ago.

“They will have a full-service restaurant in their store and a salon,” says O’Neill. It will be the third Saks Fifth Avenue store in Canada and the first outside of Toronto.

Despite its success over the years, CF Chinook Centre has always undergone changes in its retail mix.

“For the past 15 to 20 years, the owners continue to re-invest in the property because it is such a powerhouse and it’s still a huge testament to City of Calgary and even in poorer economic conditions in Alberta there’s still this want to re-invent CF Chinook Centre. It’s such an amazing property,” says O’Neill.
“There’s always ways to improve the property whether it be through our retail mix or whether it be through building the pedestrian bridge (over Macleod Trail), updating tile, updating food court, updating everything.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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