Montreal-based landlord Ivanhoé Cambridge has sold its ownership stake in the Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth near Halifax to a local buyer. Halifax-based Rank Inc. and local developer Joe Ramia have taken ownership of the property along with a group of insteps, and a redevelopment is planned that could transform the asset in the coming years.
“Today is a great day for the future of Mic Mac Mall,” said Tamitha Oakley, General Manager. “We’re elated that our new ownership group shares our commitment to serving Atlantic Canada and ensuring we remain a vibrant economic hub for people to shop, gather, work and play,” she said.
As part of the move, Mic Mac Mall will be managed and leased by Cushman & Wakefield, which operates a portfolio of shopping centres across the country.
The new owners plan to intensify the 50-acre site with the potential addition of a business office campus, residential, restaurants and entertainment facilities. A redevelopment of the shopping centre property had been rumoured for several years under Ivanhoé Cambridge ownership. In March of this year, Ivanhoé Cambridge withdrew plans for housing on the site.
“Mic Mac Mall is already a phenomenal property and we look forward to elevating the experience even further for our tenants, our guests, and our community,” said Joe Ramia, President of Rank Inc. “This property has been part of the fabric of Atlantic Canada for the last 50 years and we see incredible potential in its future,” he said.
Landlords across Canada have been looking to densify shopping centre sites to unlock value as some retailers struggle to pay high rents. The trend is particularly pronounced in the Vancouver and Toronto areas where the majority of major shopping centres have some sort of redevelopment proposal at play, including residential buildings with hundreds or even thousands of units.
In 2018, Ivanhoé Cambridge announced a $55 million investment in the centre which included renovations and new tenants. A new tenant, Linen Chest, would reveal its new store concept with an opening a year later. Linen Chest and other retailers moved into a repurposed 122,000 square foot space formerly occupied by a Target store.
The renovation announcement included new flooring and handrails throughout the mall property, renovated washrooms (including a new family washroom), a relocation and replacement of the existing ‘centre court’ escalators and the replacement and relocation of the ‘south court’ escalators which Ivanhoé Cambridge said at the time would be utilized to create additional retail offerings. A new entrance at the south-end of the property would be added as well while upgrades to the exterior entrances and lighting were also part of the plans. The mall’s third-floor food court was also announced to be renovated, including new seating and lighting.
The ongoing mall updates recently included the addition of French sporting goods retailer Decathlon, which opened a 36,000 square foot location in the shopping centre last year.
Mic Mac Mall is the largest shopping centre in Atlantic Canada with about 160 retailers and 3,100 parking spaces in a centre spanning more than 665,000 square feet. Hudson’s Bay is the mall’s primary anchor with more than 150,000 square feet, as well as smaller anchors such as Winners/HomeSense, Decathlon, Old Navy, Linen Chest, Chapters and H&M. It’s also one of the most productive malls in the region according to Retail Council of Canada’s shopping centre studies that were authored by Retail Insider’s Craig Patterson.
The shopping centre was built in 1972 and opened in 1973. Original department store anchors included Eaton’s and Simpsons. Eaton’s shut in 1997 and Simpsons was converted to the Hudson’s Bay nameplate in 1986. Target, formerly a Zellers store, occupied the former Eaton’s space in the mall until early 2015 when Target exited Canada.
Ivanhoé Cambridge has sold numerous retail properties over the past several years as the landlord divests parts of its retail portfolio. Most recently the landlord sold its 50% interest in Ottawa’s Bayshore Centre to Kingsett Capital. Possibly its largest retail sale involved selling Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre to QuadReal in 2017 — the new owner is overhauling the centre with a completion date set for 2024.
Last month Retail Insider reported that Ivanhoé Cambridge would outsource its operations and leasing to brokerage and real estate management company JLL Canada. Ivanhoé Cambridge staff were formally notified late last month and interviews will be conducted to see who from the landlord will join JLL. Licensing for some of the landlord’s leasing team will be required according to sources.
Last year a report in Halifax Today noted that Ivanhoé Cambridge had been open to changing the name of Mic Mac Mall — the Indigenous Mi’kmaq tribe were among the first settlers in the region prior to the colonization that created Canada, and ‘Mic Mac’ is a deviation of that spelling considered by some to be ‘slang’.