Aurora Landing Project in Fort McMurray AB Seeks Investors and Retailers as Development Planning Progresses [Interviews]

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The Fort McMurray Airport Authority (FMAA) is open for business in Alberta with the planned 650-acre commercial development Aurora Landing on airport campus.

The land is now available for sale, long-term leasing, or joint venture development opportunities.

Aurora Landing is projected to be one of the largest, most comprehensive mixed-use masterplans in Alberta. The project, divided into 12 parcels, is expected to span 15 years. The FMAA is currently in the pre-development phase of planning, engaging prospective joint venture partners. 

Aurora Landing (Image: Fort McMurray Airport Authority)

This long term multi-phased development is expected to address several critical commercial needs in the growing Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo market, including leading retailers, major hospitality brands and supporting amenities, experiential entertainment, food and beverage operations, signature office campus, state-of-the-art logistics and technology facilities, and regional transportation services.

There is potential for sale and land lease for selected parcels for commercial/hospitality, light industrial/logistics, auto mall and services. 

Michael Sieger, Vice President of Air Service and Commercial Development with the FMAA, said Aurora Landing meets market demand on many fronts, and benefits from the expected transportation infrastructure to be introduced in the region. 

Michael Sieger

“Combined with the adjacency of the airport terminal and the many existing businesses already located on Fort McMurray International Airport (YMM) campus, Aurora Landing serves as a critical catalyst to support the growth of the region, specifically south Fort McMurray, which has been underserved in terms of important commercial and retail amenities. We believe Aurora Landing is a perfect location to host the developers actively looking to come into our region,” he said.

Aurora Landing is composed of 650 acres along a major highway. Four kilometres of frontage, and situated south of town where future growth is anticipated to occur.

Aurora Landing (Image: Fort McMurray Airport Authority)

“The community is looking for retail growth. Aurora Landing is well-positioned in the market to be the that destination for developers.”

In 2023, the Airport Authority commissioned a full land development master strategy plan. The 100+ page master plan takes the development out for the next 15 to 20 years. 

“With interest in the marketplace for land in Fort McMurray, from the retail perspective, from the light industrial commercial perspective, we knew that we had something special here. We’ve got 650 acres along a major highway. Four kilometres of frontage which no other parcel of land in Fort McMurray has and we’re situated south of town which we believe is where the future growth of our community from a residential perspective and from a development perspective is going to occur,” said Sieger.

“So, all the stars lined up and we said ‘okay we know we’ve got something great here let’s put a name to it and let’s start to market it’.”

Members of the FMAA will be at the upcoming ICSC@WHISTLER event, January 21-23 in booth 1113, to promote the development.

Aurora Landing (Image: FMAA)
Image: Fort McMurray International Airport

Denean Robinson, President & CEO of the Airport Authority, said Aurora Landing is a visionary program leveraging the strength and resilience of the entire region. 

Denean Robinson

“This overall masterplan speaks to our strong conviction in the long-term growth of Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo. Our significant land holdings provide a truly unique opportunity to accommodate various commercial developments and business platforms that typically require larger land needs in a highly integrated, vibrant, and commercially cohesive environment.  Aurora Landing will provide exactly such an environment,” said Robinson.

The airport is a major economic driver for the region, with an economic output of over $354 million, supporting over 70 businesses and approximately 900 jobs on airport campus.

YMM is the aviation centre of the Athabasca Oil Sands region and a gateway for Canada’s energy sector. Located just 15 minutes from downtown Fort McMurray, Aurora Landing is within close proximity to Highway 63, providing easy access to the region’s oil sands sites, the Edmonton region and Western Canada. 

Image: Fort McMurray International Airport

Aurora Landing is poised to be Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo’s biggest commercial hub, serving residents and visitors to the region.

Development advantages include:

  • Expansive site coverage (+650 acres of developable land);
  • Flexible development site configuration;
  • Excellent commercial frontage profile (4.0 kilometres);
  • Unconstrained egress & ingress points;
  • Adjacency of YMM passengers & local workforce;
  • Long term commercial/industrial/residential support base; and
  • Immediate & flexible long-term development timeframe.
Fort McMurray (Image: Sport Canada)

The master plan builds out the 650 acres in 12 different parcels.

Development order will be based on the scheduling of JV development Partner(s) and Key Anchor Tenants. So far, the demand seems to call for Parcel B first. The overall masterplan will commence at both ends and work their way towards the middle and from the Highway 69 frontage inward to the Airport Terminal.

“Right now, when it comes to the retail perspective (in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo), research suggests that we’re about 1.2 million square feet short of what’s needed in the community,” shared Sieger.

Sieger said the parcels of land available in Aurora Landing are quite large and can accommodate several hundred thousand square feet of retail space.

Image: Fort McMurray International Airport

Fort McMurray has a number of key demographics that are attracting retailers:

  • The region is home to more than 110,000 residents with one of the world’s leading energy sectors and a strong oil and gas industry workforce;
  • The region is expected to see strong population growth exceeding 170,000 residents by 2040;
  • The region has one of the highest annual income levels in the country with an average of $217,284 per household annually;
  • The region is projected to generate significant retail expenditure exceeding $5.6 billion by 2040, a rise averaging five per cent per year;
  • The market has a significant commercial recapture opportunity with an estimated $850 million in retail spent outside of the region annually.

“We have $850 million worth of retail that leaves our region both in online and direct shopping in cities outside of Fort McMurray,” said Sieger.

“It’s like a perfect storm. Everything’s just waiting for retail to come here. And the ones that do it first, the first adopters, are the ones that are going to benefit the most.”

Fort McMurray Airport (Image: Ema Peter)

Aurora Landing is within 15-20 minutes from any point in Fort McMurray. There’s also a new highway alignment, Highway 686 Connector to Grand Prairie, completing the transport loop with Edmonton.

More information on Aurora Landing can be found here: https://flyymm.com/aurora-landing/

Or contact: 

For more information, contact Michael Sieger, VP Air Service & Commercial Development, Fort McMurray Airport Authority at: Michael.Sieger@FlyYMM.com Direct: (780) 399-8669

Image: Fort McMurray International Airport

Retail Insider partnered with Fort McMurray Airport Authority for this article. To work with Retail Insider, email: craig@retail-insider.com

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.

1 COMMENT

  1. Huge opportunity for new businesses. The Region is about to explode over the next few years, finally. By the time this has begun to build the region will be ready for an expanded vison and reality at the airport. Bravo!

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