A massive family entertainment centre has become a key anchor for the New Horizon Mall, just outside of Calgary city limits in Balzac, and could be a ‘game changer’ for the shopping centre.
Sky Castle is now the largest anchor tenant at approximately 34,000 square feet, followed by the Best Shop and Prairie Horizon Fresh Market. These three tenants collectively occupy approximately 74,000 square feet at New Horizon Mall, which is about 320,000 square feet.
The mall is about 53 per cent occupied/leased on a square footage basis with more than 100 stores open on a regular basis.
Toronto based, Torgan Group, with its partner, MPI Property Group (collectively “NHM Inc.”) developed New Horizon Mall. NHM Inc. retained approximately 30 per cent ownership of the Mall, about 114,000 square feet of space, and owns the larger units and has leased approximately 86 per cent of units owned.
As Alberta’s first condo mall, stores at New Horizon Mall were sold and owners either operate their own store or lease to another store operator – 98 per cent of the total retail space has been sold. New Horizon Mall had a slow start before COVID-19 hit and continues to be a work in progress. Construction of New Horizon Mall was completed by Ledcor Construction in 2018.
A condominium board was set up to run New Horizon Mall and to represent all unit owners. An onsite management team is employed by this board to manage day to day operations and headed by General Manager Bob Parsons.
“We wanted a strong anchor tenant that would attract shoppers and families and found the perfect partner in Sky Castle,” said Ellisa Asaria, director, leasing, New Horizon Mall Inc. “I’m already getting more interest from entrepreneurs thinking of opening shops that appeal to kids and parents. Without question this is a game changer for our marketplace.
“Sky Castle is an exciting addition to New Horizon Mall. It is a major children’s attraction which will result in families coming to experience all the mall has to offer. While we had interest from different operators for our larger units, we felt that the addition of Sky Castle would bring forward our vision of New Horizon Mall.
“New Horizon Mall is quickly achieving our vision of a destination offering unique products, local businesses and great experiences. With the opening of Sky Castle, New Horizon Mall has taken another important step to become Calgary’s most unique shopping experience. Whether it is auto shows, craft fairs, scavenger hunts, cultural celebrations or other events, the mall has something for everyone. As the province and the country reopen, we hope to support the entrepreneurial spirit at New Horizon Mall and across the City.”
Sky Castle finalized its lease in early 2020 but the global pandemic significantly delayed construction and opening.
“Overall, we have noticed that business owners have more confidence in the retail market and there has been a pronounced uptick in leasing activity. People have a sense that there is light at the end of the tunnel and things are now starting to return to normal. We are optimistic about the future provided that we don’t have further pandemic restrictions,” added Asaria.
Han Liu, one of the partners in Sky Castle, said the concept is an indoor playground geared for children 10 years old and under. It has many slides, a snow castle, a donut slide, a Ninja area and a car track with theme rooms for birthday parties and private events.
“New Horizon Mall has always been my first choice. When I was looking for locations, I went to a couple of dozen locations out there. New Horizon Mall, the environment, the building itself, is just perfect for the indoor playground and also I like the idea of there are so many local businesses and entrepreneurs downstairs. I’m a community guy and I think this is definitely a community theme that would be very helpful for the longevity of the business,” said Liu. The play area is located on the second floor of the mall near the food court.
Parsons said COVID has been really tough for all retailers but with the province reopening and Sky Castle now open, the mall is optimistic about the summer.
“We are already noticing that shoppers are making a real effort to support local merchants and we think this is a turning point,” said Parsons.
“Since Sky Castle has opened there’s been considerable interest. I think the timing is right relative to the pandemic and Alberta’s positions and Alberta Health Services position relative to COVID and the different stages we’ve gone through for reopening. I think we’re well positioned for that. On a go forward basis lots of people have reevaluated what they’re doing as a family to make money and we’re positioned for small business incubator, small footprint opportunities in terms of retail. There really aren’t that many shopping centre or strip centre opportunities that have 150-square-foot retail units for rent out there.
“So a unit owner looking to rent their space they may have a 150-square-foot single unit. They might have a double unit of roughly 300 feet and there’s not that space available in the marketplace – readily available. I think the opportunities are there now that we’ve got a third anchor driving traffic through the mall with the other retailers we have. Things have turned the corner in terms of interest and popularity.”