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This article was published 3/10/2017 (257 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The general manager of Winnipeg’s largest regional shopping centre — CF Polo Park — said Monday the mall should have no difficulty finding replacement tenants for its soon-to-be-vacant Sears store.
"CF Polo Park is such a vibrant and desirable destination for both customers and tenants," Peter Havens said in an interview, noting the mall had no trouble finding new tenants to fill the former Zellers space when it became vacant a few years ago.
Sears Canada announced late Friday afternoon it has signed a number of lease-surrender or amendment agreements that would result in the closure of 11 more of its stores in Canada, including its flagship Winnipeg outlet in the CF Polo Park mall.
The agreements must be approved by the courts, and Sears didn’t give a timeline for when it expects the Polo Park store to close. However, Cadillac Fairview said Monday it owns four of the 11 Sears stores targeted for closure, including the Polo Park outlet. It said if the court gives its blessing, the stores will close on Oct. 10, followed immediately by liquidation sales, which would continue until Dec. 15.
Cadillac Fairview said buying back the lease for Sears’ Polo Park location "is part of a longer term plan for the site, which we believe will provide unique experiences and deliver a vibrant destination for our guests." It didn’t disclose any further details.
Havens said it’s too soon to say if Cadillac Fairview will seek a new anchor tenant for the space, or opt to subdivide it into a number of smaller spaces and lease them out to a number of different tenants.
"I think it’s probably going to likely be a combination of them both," he said.
One potential anchor tenant is the Quebec-based Simons department store chain.
A spokesman for the chain said in August 2015 the company was keen to open a store in Winnipeg, either in the Polo Park mall or in St. Vital Centre.
He said Simons stores are typically about 100,000 square feet in size, and while neither of those two malls had that much available space at the time, Simons was willing to wait until a suitable space became available.
Simons refused to comment Monday on whether it’s going to make a pitch for the Sears space in Polo Park. Havens also didn’t know if Simons and Cadillac Fairview were already in discussions.
Sears has four stores in Winnipeg, all in regional shopping malls. It announced in June that it would be closing its store attached to the Garden City Shopping Centre, and the co-owner/manager of the Garden City mall — RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust — recently entered into a purchase agreement to acquire that location.
Sears has not said what it plans to do with its other two Winnipeg stores, which are in the St. Vital and Kildonan Place shopping centres. A Sears spokesman could not be reached Monday for comment.
The company’s Polo Park store is on two levels, and Havens said that could make it a little easier to subdivide the space.
"The floor plate is not that huge. It’s not like it’s 260,000 square feet all on one level."
But he noted the space is currently designed for a single tenant, with an escalator connecting the two floors. So a lot of changes would have to be made if it’s converted to a multi-tenant space.
The 114,000-square-foot Zellers store was on one floor, and Cadillac Fairview opted to spend $49 million on converting the space into a new multi-tenant wing of the mall, with 23 different stores.
Havens said one of the advantages of subdividing the Sears space is that it would enable the mall to add a number of new retail tenants.
Sears is one of CF Polo Park’s original tenants, and its biggest tenant. The other main anchor tenant is the 212,000-square-foot Hudson’s Bay store at the other end of the mall.