New Horizon Mall Near Calgary Sees Occupancy Rise Following Bumpy Start 5 Years Ago [Interview]

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As the unique New Horizon Mall approaches its fifth anniversary this spring, the shopping centre, just outside of Calgary city limits in Balzac, continues to increase its occupancy.

The mall, which was developed by Toronto-based Torgan Group, with its partner MPI Property Group, is about 320,000 square feet and is unique as it was Alberta’s first condo mall where space in the centre was initially sold to people and businesses as opposed to being leased. Many units were purchased then leased out to other businesses.

“It’s been active. It’s been interesting coming out of COVID, all of those fun things that everyone’s been dealing with,” said Bob Parsons, the GM of New Horizon Mall.

New Horizon Mall

“What’s been interesting over the past year at New Horizon, we’ve continued to add additional stores, additional tenant operators, additional unit owned operators. Over the last year, the architectural control committee has approved over 100 new stores. In the Calgary marketplace, we’re probably the most economical, feasible option for entrepreneurs, business incubators in terms of retail. I doubt you could find a more economical rental rate in the marketplace for retailers wanting to shop their wares so to speak to the consumers of this marketplace.

“We’re about a year and half into Sky Castle operating in the shopping centre, which has been a strong addition to the product and to the services offered here. They’ve done very well and understand their marketplace and understand who their customer is and the families I think have reacted and are pretty appreciative. So they’re doing well.”

Sky Castle, a massive entertainment centre and children’s indoor playground, is the shopping centre’s largest anchor tenant at about 34,000 square feet.

Sky Castle at New Horizon Mall (Image: Sky Castle)

“We’re continuing to whittle away at both the numbers in terms of raw store counts as well as occupancy based on square footage,” said Parsons. “It’s been good that way for sure.

“We’ve got over 200 stores that are fully fixtured and open on a regular basis. On a square foot basis, right now we’re about 60 per cent occupied. Both those numbers are up dramatically over the numbers as we headed into COVID and now as we’ve come out of COVID things are still moving in a positive direction.

“As every month goes by, we continue to add stores. As every month goes by, we hopefully become a little more predictable in terms of how our consumer perceives us. And hopefully we’re providing unique retail experiences for our consumer.”

Other major anchor tenants in the mall include Best Shop and Prairie Horizon Fresh Market.

C & L Collectables at New Horizon Mall (Image: New Horizon)
Elegance Mezon at New Horizon Mall

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.

“I think in general we’re seeing our traffic numbers increasing month over month. People are responding to events. There was the timeframe through COVID for sure people weren’t as positive about venturing out, but I think there’s certainly a portion of the population that’s been starved for the things we just took for granted – opportunities, craft fairs, events in the mall whether it be car displays different activities, Stampede events, that happen on a regular basis in this market,” said Parsons. 

Image: New Horizon Mall

“I think for sure our traffic numbers are showing month over month increases and we’re seeing specific events for sure are generating more traffic than what they would have in the past. I wouldn’t want to say we’re back to normal. I think COVID has changed a lot of experiences in everyday life but for the most part there’s more of an appreciation for things that go on that we took for granted and now people are accepting of them.

“One of the things with Sky Castle is we can track and predict strong traffic patterns and increases in the mall based on school holidays and stat holidays.”

Mario Toneguzzi
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 is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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