What began as a trickle earlier this year has grown into a steady stream as more retail tenants are drawn to one of the city's newest and largest retail power centres -- the IKEA-led Seasons of Tuxedo.
"Since the spring, we've continued to have a steady flow of interest in the site," CBRE Winnipeg president Derrick Chartier, the leasing agent for the centre, said. "Definitely the momentum is picking up."
Chartier said one big-box store (Cabela's) and four new mid-sized box stores have opened in the centre since the spring, including two -- River City Sports and Structube, a Montreal furniture chain -- within the last seven weeks.
Vancouver-based Fatburger Canada will open its first Winnipeg restaurant Aug. 8. The 1,700-square-foot outlet is located in the same building as three other fast-food eateries -- Subway, Pita Pit and Taco del Mar.
Chartier said the centre's restaurant lineup won't end there.
"We're also working with a couple of family, sit-down restaurants for the site. And they'll be new to the market, as well."
Chartier wouldn't give any hints because negotiations are ongoing, but he hopes to have deals finalized within the next 60 days.
Two new tenants he could be talking about are Shell Canada, which will build a stand-alone gas bar/convenience store/car wash complex, and Assiniboine Credit Union, which is building a stand-alone 5,700-square-foot branch in the centre, which is located on Sterling Lyon Parkway immediately west of Kenaston Boulevard.
Chartier said work also is underway on the first large multi-tenant building for the site. The 22,000-square-foot structure will have 12 or 13 tenants, most of them service-related operations.
Although no leases have been signed, talks are underway with a number of interested parties.
"I think we'll be done (leasing all of the space in the building) by the fall, quite easily," he said.
Although there's been a lot of interest in the Seasons of Tuxedo since plans were first unveiled in 2009, Chartier said a lot of prospective tenants seemed to be waiting for the first two anchor tenants -- IKEA and Cabela's -- to open before committing to the project.
ACU vice-president and chief financial officer Allan Godfrey confirmed ACU officials did take a wait-and-see approach. But they weren't just waiting for last November's opening of IKEA's 395,000-square-foot megastore.
"We wanted to see what else was going to come there besides IKEA -- what other kinds of retailers," Godrey explained.
He said while IKEA will draw shoppers from all over Winnipeg and beyond, ACU officials wanted to make sure there also would be retail outlets there that would attract neighbourhood residents (and ACU customers) on an almost daily basis -- such as fast-food restaurants.
"And we think it will be a place they're going to be used to going to," he added. "It (going there) will be part of their daily routine."
Godfrey said the new ACU branch, which is expected to open in mid-2014, will replace two smaller branches -- one on Scurfield Boulevard and the other in the Kenaston Village Mall at the corner of Grant Avenue and Kenaston Boulevard.
Frank Di Benedetto, the B.C. businessman who is the Fatburger franchisor for Canada, said he was also drawn to Seasons of Tuxedo because of its broad mix of retail tenants. He said having IKEA there also helped to seal the deal because of its tremendous drawing power.
"We believe this is an ideal location because it will allow us to introduce Fatburger to shoppers from far and wide, who will be drawn to the centre from northern Manitoba, eastern Saskatchewan and northwestern Ontario."
Although the 42-seat Seasons of Tuxedo outlet is Fatburger's first in Winnipeg, Di Benedetto is confident it won't be the last.
He said he expects the chain's local franchisee -- a group of three local entrepreneurs -- to open a second outlet within the next 12 to 18 months, and up to five or six in the next five years.
While some might think having an IKEA megastore next door would be a drawback for another furniture store, the assistant manager of Structube's new outlet said the opposite is true.
"We complement each other," Barbara Erickson said. "And they (IKEA stores) do attract quite a few customers to the area."
Structube's 10,000-square-foot store carries a variety of contemporary and modern home furnishings and accessories.
Season of Tuxedo's co-developers, IKEA and Winnipeg's Fairweather Properties, expect the power centre to boast up to 1.5 million square feet of retail space by the time it's fully developed. The centre will also feature a multi-family residential component and an office component. But details of those aspects of the development have not been disclosed.
Know of any newsworthy developments in the local office, retail, or industrial real estate sectors? Let Murray McNeill know at 204-697-7254.