Like many other Canadian shopping centres, over the past few years Southcentre Mall in Calgary has been leasing out the massive former Sears space which became vacant when the giant retailer closed its doors.
Now that space is about to be completely filled.
Jason Bos, general manager of Southcentre Mall, which is part of the Oxford Properties Group, said the total Sears space was about 240,000 square feet over three floors.
“The third level of Sears we have secured an entertainment use that will essentially take the entire third floor. So about 80,000 square feet of entertainment, food and beverage. That’s really exciting. Hopefully open by the end of this year,” he said.
“We will have more news to come as we progress the conversation but it is finalized that is happening.”
Southcentre Mall is just over one million square feet with about 190 stores.
In the past year or so, Bos said Winners, Dollarama, Decathlon were the main tenants that opened during COVID “and have really given us a shot in the arm in terms of traffic and really revitalizing the shopping centre.”
“In this coming year, we’ve got quite a bit more leasing to come,” he added.
Bos said the lululemon store will be doubling in size with a scheduled opening this spring. Earls Restaurant will be relocating its nearby Willow Park location into the shopping centre, opening in old Sears space in the fall of this year.
“And we have several other retailers that we’re not quite able to announce yet but we’re really excited. All in all we’re looking at about 125,000 square feet of new leasing that’s firm for this coming year,” said Bos.
“The entire Sears space will be 100 per cent leased and the shopping centre in general will be over 90 per cent, closer to 93 per cent, leased on the whole.”
Tenants for the Sears space include Dollarama, PetSmart, Winners on the first level. On the second level, there’s Earl’s and Decathlon which opened in November 2021. The third level will be the entertainment use.
“We have recently finished the Centre Court kiosk re-merchandising. So what used to be fountains and a lot of open space, we decided to put some food kiosks in as well as some seating. It’s really livened up that Centre Court area because we do have a large Centre Court space,” said Bos.
“The activation of that space with food has really drawn some crowds which is great for us because it’s helping the leasing team which has done a really great job with the building to work on the re-merchandising of the second level which part of that will be the lululemon expansion and the rest of that are some deals that we’ll be able to announce in a couple of months that will really solidify the re-merchandising of Centre Court. The other big one at Centre Court would be the expanded Ardene. Ardene went from about 3,000 square feet to just over 10,000 square feet right on the corner of Centre Court, which is really helping round out our offering in terms of attracting younger families and a younger demographic to the shopping centre, which has really helped drive traffic and sales, which are currently exceeding 2019 levels.”
Bos said the densification of the shopping centre is something that is being explored.
“It’s definitely something that Oxford is committed to. It’s something that Oxford believes in. The three big properties that Oxford manages and owns in the GTA – Square One, Yorkdale and STC (Scarborough Town Centre) – all currently have densification projects ongoing,” he said.
“So it’s definitely something that we will look at in the future.”
Bos said the mood in the retail sector in Calgary is optimistic, particularly for Southcentre Mall.
“COVID was pretty tough and we feel that we were probably at the bottom in terms of retail when COVID did hit. The good thing about being at the bottom is there’s nowhere to go but up and we really do feel that that’s the direction we’re headed right now,” he said.
“The numbers speak for themselves. Traffic is up, sales are up. We’re really happy. We’re exceeding pre-COVID numbers in both traffic and sales both in terms of productivity as well as just gross sales. We’re really happy with the way things are going. It’s kudos to the leasing team. We actually got stronger during COVID with the openings of the Sears box with Winners and some of those other tenants. I think we’re very well positioned to be a community hub particularly we are the furthest south shopping centre in the city, enclosed shopping centre.
“With the expanding demographics in Calgary and the growth in the population I think we’re really well positioned and I think that Calgary in general I’m very optimistic and bullish on the future. We’re on the upswing right now and it’s a really great feeling and great to be part of.”
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