A giant retail mall unlike any other in the province is being planned for the north half of the IKEA-anchored Seasons of Tuxedo development in southwest Winnipeg.
The 854,000-square-foot Outlets of Seasons development will be built on a 47.3-hectare site immediately north of the 818,000-square-foot Seasons of Tuxedo development and will also include an 11-hectare residential component.
One of the distinguishing features of the mixed-use development is the centrepiece of what's billed by Regina-based developers -- Harvard Developments Inc. and Forster Projects Inc. -- as "Manitoba's first and only premier fashion outlet centre."
Ivanhoe Cambridge, a Canadian real estate company, will develop, lease and manage the fashion outlet centre, called Outlet Collection at Winnipeg.
Premier or premium fashion outlet centres typically feature leading and designer-brand items at 25 to 65 per cent off regular retail prices.
One of the leasing agents for the Outlets of Seasons Development -- Derrick Chartier of CBRE Winnipeg -- said although fashion outlet centres are fairly new to Canada, they're a very active and growing segment of the U.S. retail market.
"I think this is a tremendous win for Winnipeg," Chartier said in an interview Monday. "This will help bring more destination shoppers and travellers to Winnipeg, which creates all kinds of spinoff benefits for all the other businesses in the city, whether they be restaurant businesses, hotel businesses, or whatever."
Charier said the development's fashion outlet mall is expected to draw shoppers from as far away as eastern Saskatchewan, northern Manitoba, northwestern Ontario, northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.
Chartier and Blair Forster, president of Forster Projects and vice-president of development for Harvard Developments, were being tight-lipped Monday about what the fashion outlet centre will look like -- whether it will be open-air or enclosed -- and who the tenants are likely to be. The website also says the project will open next spring.
They said details will be unveiled today at the third biennial Winnipeg Real Estate Forum -- a one-day event organized by Toronto-based MMPI Canada. More than 600 real estate industry officials from across Canada are expected to attend the forum, which will examine trends and investment opportunities within Winnipeg's commercial and residential real estate markets.
Forster said the overall development will feature elements of both traditional retail shopping malls, such as Polo Park or St. Vital Centre, and conventional "box-campus" shopping centres, such as the ones found at the intersection of Kenaston and McGillivray boulevards or Regent Avenue and Lagimodière Boulevard.
For example, there will be some stores that will open onto a street or parking lot, as in a typical box-campus centre, he said, although none of them will be large-format stores such as the ones found in many big-box retail centres.
But the stores and restaurants in the 385,000-square-foot fashion outlet centre will open onto a central concourse or mall, rather than onto a street or parking lot. The outlet centre is slated to open in spring 2017, while the main complex is looking at a spring 2015 opening.
Preliminary design drawings on the Outlet of Seasons website show contiguous rows of stores, shops and restaurants opening onto an open-air pedestrian concourse decorated with trees, benches, ornamental lighting, fountains and giant planters -- not unlike the concourses in major regional shopping malls.
But Forster said some major changes have been made to the original design. On Tuesday he confirmed the centre will be similar in appearance to a traditional shopping mall, with a centre concourse and stores opening up onto the concourse.
The centre will feature more than 90 retailers offering leading and brand-name fashion items at discounts of up to 75 percent off suggested retail prices, he said.
The same two partners that developed the south half of the 1.6-million-square-foot Seasons of Tuxedo development -- IKEA and Winnipeg's Fairweather Properties Ltd. -- were originally expected to also develop the north half.
But Forster said Forster Projects and Harvard Developments struck a tentative deal about 16 months ago to buy the site from the original developers.
He said the deal formally closed in January, but neither side made a formal announcement. And he wouldn't reveal the selling price.
Although Harvard Properties has been a major player for years in the Saskatchewan and Alberta real estate markets, this is its first development in Manitoba. the street.