Calgary’s Southcentre Mall is moving forward with the redevelopment of the massive vacant retail space formerly occupied by Sears and adding at least five new tenants and potentially more to the shopping centre’s mix.
Total redevelopment will be 235,000 square feet and be completed by 2022, but the project will be kickstarted by the first phase which includes close to 100,000 square feet to house new retailers PetSmart, Winners, and Dollarama on the first floor of the shopping centre space. The overall project covers three levels and the upper floors will likely be home in the future to bigger format retailers.
“We are the first shopping centre in Calgary to redevelop retail space of this scale in recent years,” said Jason Bos, General Manager at Southcentre Mall. “We strive to introduce retailers that serve our community’s needs and wants. These three new retailers deliver on this goal and reinforce Southcentre’s reputation as an important, local shopping centre with strong community connections.”
Sears closed its stores in Canada in January 2018. Since then, there had been some specialty leasing activity in the Sears space at Southcentre with a furniture retailer, Showhome Furniture, for about a year while the shopping centre was working through the preliminary phases of the redevelopment process.
“Once the redevelopment process got to a point where we needed to hand it over to the construction team to start swinging hammers we had to vacate (the space) again so that they could get the space ready. That was done last May, and it’s basically been under construction since then,” said Bos.
The first phase of the redevelopment includes Dollarama, which is set to open this fall and PetSmart and Winners which are scheduled to open in Spring 2021. Future phases will include additional retailers and businesses on the upper two floors.
Bos said in today’s world it is almost impossible for a shopping centre to lease that amount of space to one large anchor.
“That type of format — department store format — doesn’t really exist in terms of new construction, new build, in the industry anymore. It’s prudent to take the course we’re taking in terms of breaking that up into some smaller units,” he said.
“Generally speaking, we found at other Oxford Properties where Target’s have been redeveloped and similar things have been done, it’s a net positive. People in general aren’t shopping at the department store type retail as much as they used to be. While Hudson’s Bay is certainly still a draw and certainly still brings in a significant amount of traffic something like a Sears the traffic had been decreasing for some time. Going in this direction we expect to see significantly higher footfall once things have stabilized and we’ve got the entire project open.”
At one point over the last few years, there was talk that La Maison Simons could have been a tenant for that empty Sears space.
“We had had conversations with Simons at a certain point in time but nothing had ever been finalized,” said Bos.
Including the Sears box, Southcentre Mall is just over one million square feet and home to over 160 stores, including Aritzia, Sephora, H&M, lululemon, CRAFT Beer Market, and Calgary exclusives like Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, and Western Canada’s first Sporting Life.
“The redevelopment of this real estate was designed to complement and diversify Southcentre’s existing retail mix,” said Bradley Jones, Head of Retail at Oxford Properties, which owns and manages Southcentre. “We aim to connect people to exceptional places; Southcentre is a best-in-class shopping centre that will continue to serve the community’s needs at large.”
Southcentre said that the opening of the first three new retailers is expected to create more than 150 permanent jobs as well as more than 200 jobs during the construction phase.
“I think this is a great thing for the shopping centre,” said Bos. “It will really reinforce our position as a community destination where we can connect people and build exceptional places and experiences for them.”