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Walmart enters Grant Park retail fray

Supercentre to anchor commercial development

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Walmart is returning to the area near Grant Park Mall with a super-centre set to open in 2015.

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Walmart is returning to the area near Grant Park Mall with a super-centre set to open in 2015.

Grocery wars are brewing in River Heights and Fort Rouge.

Just a couple of weeks after the North West Company announced it had purchased the Price Chopper outlet at Pembina Highway and Stafford Street -- a regulatory requirement of last year's acquisition of Canada Safeway by Sobeys Inc. -- the first tenant in the nearby Grant Park Pavilions development has been announced -- Walmart Supercentre.

Ground will be broken on the 160,000-square-foot location next week. When it opens -- expected next January -- it will feature both general merchandise and groceries.

Other grocery outlets in the immediate vicinity include Sobeys on Taylor Avenue, a soon-to-be-former Safeway store at Grant Park Shopping Centre that will be under the Red River Co-op banner shortly and a Target store that shares the same parking lot.

"We've been assembling this land for almost a decade and we always wanted them to be our lead occupant. We were pursuing them. It's always optimal to have a general merchandise retailer as your major anchor on site," said John Pearson, a broker at Shindico Realty Inc./IC&I Properties, which is developing Grant Park Pavilions.

The 24.2-hectare site, which is bordered by Taylor Avenue, Pembina Highway and CN railway tracks, is a brown-field development/industrial site because of the numerous hydro lines on the property. Shindico has already made a "major expenditure" in moving many of them underground, Pearson said.

It will take several years until the $200-million, mixed-use development is fully occupied, but when it is, Pearson said it will include large-format retail, smaller retail, restaurants, office space, apartments and possibly seniors' housing. There will also be 18 pathways for bikes and pedestrians, and buses can also be accommodated.

"You can live, work and play all on the same site," Pearson said, noting Shindico is currently in discussions with a range of potential tenants.

The city's newest Walmart will service the River Heights and Fort Rouge neighbourhoods all the way to downtown.

"The whole Grant Park area is one of the most densely populated areas in Winnipeg. You're not waiting for housing to be built -- it's already there. It's an established area," he said.

Walmart knows the neighbourhood -- it's a former tenant in the space now occupied by Target -- but the world's biggest retailer moved more than a decade ago when it opened outlets at Kenaston and McGillivray boulevards and near Polo Park Shopping Centre.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2014 A2

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