Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/3/2019 (444 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Kildonan Place has seen Zellers, Target and now Sears stores come and go, but the Transcona mall appears to have plenty of fight left.
The city's urban planning division of the Planning, Property and Development department has approved plans for a major redevelopment of the property that looks like it will include a 39,000 square foot grocery store, a redevelopment of the existing Cineplex Famous Players movie theatre and a new food court.
The proposal needs to be approved by the East Kildonan-Transcona Community Committee, where it is on the agenda for next Tuesday's meeting.
The mall management and ownership is not commenting at this point, but clearly a major project is in the works.
There were four Sears stores in Winnipeg that closed over the course of 2017-18. Here's the status of the redevelopment of those four locations:
Kildonan Place — It looks like a new 39,000 square foot grocery store (Save-On-Foods?) will be at least part of the redevelopment here.
Polo Park — there have been rumours of a Simons department store but mall management has said in the past that it's likely the two-storey space will be split up into smaller units. On Thursday, Peter Havens, Polo Park's general manager, was super non-committal, saying only, "We are working to transform the former Sears space to create a vibrant addition to our community in keeping with the expectations of Cadillac Fairview."
Garden City — this location is furthest ahead in its redevelopment with construction well under way on a 43,000-square-foot Filipino-American grocery chain called Seafood City Supermarket in the former 92,000 square foot Sears location.
St. Vital Centre — Kyle Waterman, general manager of St. Vital Centre, said the old Sears space has been prepped for redevelopment with the plan to break it up into six of seven units. He said construction is scheduled to commence in mid-May but there's no word on what new tenants will be moving in.
Sandra Hagenaars, Kildonan Place's general manager said in an email exchange, "We have submitted redevelopment plans to the city to begin the process to redevelop Sears. However, all plans are preliminary and we have no further comment at this time related to timing or tenants."
But the fact that it's already working its way through the zoning approval is a good sign that the intentions are serious.
"The mall has not made a public announcement yet," said Jeff Browaty, city councillor for the North Kildonan Ward. "But by the time they are coming in for a plan approval they are normally fairly advanced in their planning."
The submitted plans have been approved on the condition they are revised to show ramps, not steps, at all changes in elevation of all pedestrian routes.
The plan calls for a fairly substantial renovation and expansion including the redevelopment of a portion of the principal building, expansion of the parking area, removing part of the existing building and constructing an addition, recladding a significant portion of the building exterior as well as landscaping and new pedestrian routes in a large portion of the existing and proposed parking area.
It seems safe to assume that the major impetus of the redevelopment is a re-do of the old Sears store that was vacated in January 2018 with the wind down of that chain's Canadian stores. Sears was the anchor tenant of the mall since 1980.
The new plans look to include a grocery store in at least part of the old Sears location. While there has been nothing confirmed, Browaty, for one, believes Save-On-Foods would be the likely tenant since there is already a SuperStore, Sobeys, Safeway (currently being converted to a Fresh Co.), Walmart and Costco in the immediate neighbourhood.
The resiliency of this retail location likely has something to say about the strength of the community it is servicing.
"It's really encouraging," said Browaty. "Look at the regional shopping centre across North America. Lots of them have problems. The fact that this mall has been able to take over those empty spaces and replace them has been huge."
The mall has already successfully gone through the process of redeveloping big box-sized Zellers and Target stores. Most recently, in April, 2017, a Marshalls/HomeSense combo store and H & M stores opened in Kildonan Place's former Target store
In 2014 H&R Real Estate Investment Trust acquired the 460,498-square-foot mall from Toronto-based Ivanhoe Cambridge, for a reported $138.5 million.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.
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