The transformation of the former Polo Park-area stadium site into a multimillion-dollar retail and office complex is well underway, anchored by a sprawling, stand-alone Target store that's slated to open this fall.
The 107,000-square-foot Target superstore is part of the Plaza at Polo Park development and is noteworthy for a number of reasons.
Not only will it be one of largest Target stores in Canada, it's also one of only two that is built on top of a one-storey, open-air parkade. The other is in Toronto.
It's also being built at a time of tumultuous change for Target.
The U.S. retail giant is still recovering from a pre-Christmas data breach in which hackers stole millions of its customers' credit card and debit card records. In addition, its Canadian operations racked up losses of nearly $1 billion in the past year as it raced to open more than 120 stores across the country, including five in Manitoba.
The data breach led to the resignation of CEO Gregg Steinhafel, who was replaced this week by former PepsiCo executive Brian Cornell.
And in May, the company fired the head of its Canadian operations, Tony Fischer, and replaced him with company veteran Mark Schindele.
In the meantime, Target continues to add more stores to its burgeoning Canadian operations, with three more slated to open this summer -- two in Ontario and one in Quebec. That will bring the total number of stores in Canada to 130, with three more slated to open in the fall, including the one in the Plaza at Polo Park development.
Toronto retail analyst John Winter said Target's biggest mistake was paying too much -- $1.8 billion -- for the Zellers chain of retail stores in Canada.
"The Zellers locations were, at best, second-rate and third-rate locations," he said.
But he said the company picked a good location when it decided to build its new stand-alone store near Winnipeg's largest and most popular regional shopping mall -- the Polo Park mall.
The Target store is the only building under construction in the Plaza at Polo Park development, taking up the entire northwest corner of the 10.6-hectare site.
The outside of the store appears to be nearing completion, with most of the exterior walls clad in Target's signature colours -- red and sandy-brown.
Some of the exterior signage has been installed.
Work on the interior is also well underway, but Target officials aren't revealing exactly when the store will open. Company spokeswoman Joanne Elson would only say it will be some time this fall.
It's also remains to be seen what will join Target in the mixed-use development.
The developer is Polo Park Holdings, a partnership between Winnipeg developer Shindico Realty Inc. and Polo Park Shopping Centre owner Cadillac Fairview.
Shindico's development manager said Target is still the only confirmed tenant. "We're still finding out what's out there," Bob Downs added.
Downs said there will be a mix of retail, restaurant and office space in the development. But he couldn't say how much of each there will be, or even how many buildings are likely to be built.
"We're in the middle of shuffling the deck right now," he said, adding they hope to have a final design plan by early October.
One thing that won't be included in the plan is multi-family residential units.
When the city and the province first kicked around ideas for how the stadium site could be redeveloped, Mayor Sam Katz and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said they were considering including a housing component.
But Downs said that idea has since been rejected because the site is on an airport flight path, and it's feared the noise from low-flying planes could lead to many complaints from people living there.
"And we accept that," he added.
Another thing that likely won't be included is any high-end fashion retailers.
Another local firm that had originally hoped to redevelop the property -- David Asper's Creswin Properties -- envisioned a luxury fashion mall for the site.
But Downs said that's also no longer in the cards.
"I think that, given the fact Polo Park (shopping centre) already has got a good number of higher-end retailers, we will not be focusing on that area at all," he said.