Southcentre Mall Marks 50th Anniversary with Community Initiatives in Calgary [Interview]

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Calgary’s Southcentre Mall, owned and operated by Oxford Properties, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as the popular shopping centre continues to have a considerable impact in shaping Calgary’s economic and community landscape.

Jason Bos

“We’re definitely very excited to be celebrating that,” said Jason Bos, General Manager of Southcentre. “Being a shopping centre, the most important piece is what we’re bringing in terms of retailers as well as the community initiatives that we’re doing.

“We do have some special things planned given that it is our 50th anniversary and we’d like to celebrate that and share with the community. It’s also our 15th anniversary for the Southcentre Stampede Pancake Breakfast. So we’re looking to do that bigger and better than we have in the past.”

Southcentre Mall in Calgary (Image: Oxford)
Historical Image of Southcentre Shopping Centre

The most recent new opening was Reitmans in 4,700 square feet of space. Prior to that, Earls opened in a new restaurant and new stores were launched by Sleep Country and Tuk Tuk Thai.

“We’ve got a couple more under construction right now so more things in the hopper,” said Bos.

“Melanie Lyne is renovating. They will be reopening soon. They’re under construction now. We’ll be adding a Laura and Laura Plus to the centre. There’s an existing Laura which will become a regular Laura and we’re adding Laura Plus and Laura Petites as well in about another 8,000 square feet. That should happen in Q1.

“And we also have a few other retailers that we’re not quite ready to announce but we do have some pretty big announcements that are going to be coming out in approximately four to six weeks.”

Southcentre Mall in Calgary (Image: Southcentre)
Southcentre Mall in Calgary (Image: Southcentre)

The former massive three-level Sears space is now completely leased since the giant retailer left the building. 

“The third level of the old Sears space has been leased. Work has started right now. We are working with the tenant on a communications plan. Because it’s quite a large space and extensive amount of work, they’re not ready to announce just yet because they haven’t completed their marketing plan for their rollout,” said Bos.

“But we’re definitely very excited. It’s going to bring something unique to the south of Calgary that currently doesn’t exist. I can share that it’s entertainment.”

It is targeted to open in Q4 of this year.

The old Sears space of 284,000 square feet was divided up into six different tenants – Dollarama, PetSmart, Winners, Earls, Decathlon and the entertainment concept.

Bos said the company’s development team continues to explore densification of the site.

“It’s something that is certainly on our radar in terms of the future. There’s no concrete plans at this time but it’s something that we’re always evaluating,” he said.

Southcentre Mall in Calgary (Image: Southcentre)
Southcentre Mall (Christmas 1980s)

Here’s some interesting data on Southcentre:

  • Southcentre Mall opened on August 7, 1974 when Calgary’s population was about 420,000;
  • Major expansions took place in 1986, 1988, 1999, 2009, and 2015, including the introduction of major retailers and redesign of spaces;
  • Dynamic changes continued in 2018 when Sears closed its doors, making room for new retailers like Dollarama, PetSmart, and Winners in 2021;
  • The first to market Decathlon location opened in 2022, bringing a 70,000-square-foot location and over 150 employees;
  • 2023 saw the addition of 15 new stores and expansion of major brands like Pandora and Lululemon;
  • In 2023, Southcentre’s joint efforts with community partners and charities resulted in 17,000 hours of volunteer capacity and a collective fundraising achievement of $1.7 million;
  • Southcentre Mall has approximately six million annual visitors, driving consumer spending and supporting local businesses;
  • The leasable footprint of the mall is equivalent to about 62 NHL hockey rinks;
  • More than 25 local businesses have opened stores in the mall since 2020;
  • The mall provides direct employment to approximately 2,100 people, including both part-time and full-time positions, as well as contractors and administration staff (not including construction staff);
  • The initial investment of $20 million to build the mall in 1974 has been supplemented by ongoing investments over the years, such as the $50 million in capital improvements by Oxford Properties since 2020.
Southcentre Mall in Calgary (Image: Google)
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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