The Real Canadian Superstore plans an autumn opening for a mammoth 185,000-square-foot location -- complete with gymnasium -- at Sargent Avenue and St. James Street.
It will be as big as a Superstore in Calgary that is currently the biggest store in the Canada-wide chain.
To handle a stream of Superstore shoppers in an area that's already jammed with traffic during peak hours, the city will widen the Sargent and St. James intersection, and widen Sargent between Arena and Century roads to accommodate both east and west turning lanes.
It will also install a traffic signal at Arena Road that will help customers enter and leave both the Superstore site and the Rona Home & Garden outlet to the west.
"We have identified the need for some significant changes to the area, not just because of Superstore, but because of general traffic levels," Ken Rosin, manager of transportation for the city, said in an interview yesterday.
"We're separating the through traffic from the turning traffic by introducing the median at the intersection in both directions."
Some other approved changes include signal upgrades on Ellice Avenue, St. James Street and Route 90 to improve the flow of left-turning traffic.
The city recently cleared the way for the store by rezoning 13 acres of land on north St. James Street from industrial use to commercial.
The new Superstore will have a 150,000-square-foot ground floor, with its grocery section, digital photo centre, photo studio, full-service optical centre and pharmacy, and a 35,000-square-foot mezzanine with a women-only fitness centre and child-care services. There will also be a gas bar and Superstore's first Winnipeg car wash adjacent to the store, said Lori Stene, director of public affairs for Westfair Foods, which owns Superstore.
Stene said the new location, Superstore's eighth in the city, will be more than 40 per cent bigger than its outlet at Crossroads Shopping Centre, which is about 130,000 square feet and the biggest in the city to date.
"We're building the new one to improve the service to our customers. We want to provide everything they're going to need in one stop," she said in an interview.
Stene said Superstore is also expanding its Portage Avenue outlet from 120,000 square feet to 147,000 square feet, and its Bison Drive location from 115,000 square feet to 145,000 square feet.
"We're just adding room. We're not going to be putting in new departments or a fitness centre. We see the demand at those two locations to increase the size of our grocery offering," she said.
Rosin said there are $2.5 million worth of other traffic-flow changes his department has recommended, but which city council has yet to approve. Some of them include the introduction of a centre median on Ellice Avenue between Empress Street and Route 90 and a median on St. James Street between Portage and Sargent avenues to eliminate the often-confusing centre turning lane.
Superstore bought the land on St. James Street from Georgia Pacific Corp. and Apjna Holdings, a division of Apex Realty. It will also serve as the land's developer, said John Pearson, a commercial real estate holder at Shindico/IC&I Properties, who brokered the sale.
Jacquie East, co-ordinator of the city's urban and neighbourhood planning branch, said the Superstore site has been redesignated from an industrial area to regional commercial and mixed use.
The focus on the north end of St. James Street follows the completion of development on its south end in the last couple of years. In that time, Best Buy, Old Navy, Canadian Tire, Michaels Arts & Crafts and Future Shop opened up across the street from Polo Park Shopping Centre.
In the next few months, CIBC and Golf Town will open new locations at Empress Street and Ellice Avenue.