Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Save On Foods Coming to Northgate Mall

Former Zellers at Northgate Mall
I have gotten reports from several people telling me of a flyer advertising for a Save On Foods coming to the Northgate Mall on McPhillips. This is not unexpected as the company said they would be moving into Winnipeg earlier this year.

Save on Foods is a division of Overwaitea in Vancouver owned by billionaire Jimmy Pattison. The Sobey's takeover of Safeway was an opening for Save on Foods to expand ever further. The federal government forced the sale of some of those location for greater competition. It is interesting to note that even before that Save on Foods was expanding; most notably in Alberta.

The sale of Zellers to Target and the subsequent closure of Target has represented another opportunity for Save on Foods to move into the Manitoba market. Sobey's continues to consolidate its holdings and warehouses and more stores will close. In some cases there remains a Sobey's right across the street from a Safeway even in Winnipeg.

The only reason Sobey's has likely held off closing stores even faster is the threat of Co-Op and Save on Foods grabbing the abandoned locations.

The Northgate Mall on McPhillips is a odd duck. It is home to a few retailers and the last discount move theatre in the city. Zellers was never solely a grocer but it did have groceries. I suspect a Save on Foods at that location will be a very welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

It won't be the only Save on Foods for Winnipeg most certainly. Welcome to the city.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lowe's Home Improvement Coming to Linden Ridge Mall

Linden Ridge Mall
A number of media sources have confirmed that Lowe's Home Improvement will finally be coming to Winnipeg. They had initially said there were going into Seasons of Tuxedo and had plans drawn up but somehow nothing happened.

I have written about Linden Ridge Mall once before about how they were one of the original builders on Kenaston in the 1990s but had seen other developers scoop up big names for their own projects along the street. In the last year and a bit the mall has made a renewed effort to fully develop their site. It would appear that a 106,000 square foot Lowe's beside the Co-Op Gas should do that.

Manitoba is one of the few provinces to not have a Lowe's. The competition between Rona. Home Depot and Lowe's should be keen.

There will be still be some adjustment to the closure of many retailers in the last months and nearly four months of a contracting Canadian economy. Still, it is clear that Kenaston is the most important street for retailers in Manitoba. Lowe's felt there was no choice but to be somewhere on Kenaston.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Montana's Coming to Seasons of Tuxedo

Aside from the Seasons apartments which have gone up in the last several months, it is safe to say that the Seasons of Tuxedo site has slowed down in development. Assinibone Credit Union is running and a few service based businesses are putting down roots but Red River Sports folded and their space remain vacant.

The promise of a Lowe's Home Improvement and the plans they submitted to the city remain unfulfilled. Suffice to say that it appears a lot of business is taking a wait and see attitude as development as accelerated on Winnipeg's first factory outlet mall. Housing is going up all over Sterling Lyon Parkway. Without doubt the area will have a large resident population and soon.

In the mean time, after 9 PM, things get real quiet in the parking lots of IKEA and Cabela's. The restaurants of Fat Burger and Taco Del Mar do attract people later on but the lack of a casual dining restaurant is profound. This will be now remedied by the arrival of Montana's Restaurant.

The plans for the restaurant were provided to the city this week. The size of the place will be over 5000 square feet and include a patio. There will be substantial landscaping, sidewalks and bike access to the site.

So much has changed at the corner of Sterling Lyon and Kenaston and so much more is coming. It is hard to be believe that just three years ago, it was rail land and industrial and with no people living there.

Expect the one casual dining place will attract others. It will be interesting to see if we land restaurants not presently in the Winnipeg market.
Montana's above the Fat Burger location


Friday, June 12, 2015

Home2 Suites By Hilton Coming to Winnipeg

The Westport Festival development gets a boost with the hint of another hotel joining the planned Hampton Inn.  No official announcement has been made but on the Shindico website, the Home2 Suites by Hilton logo appears in the large space fronting the Red River Ex and adjacent to the MTS Iceplex and Assiniboia Downs.

Make no mistake though, it is the complete success of the MTS Iceplex that is driving the hotel boom along Portage Avenue. For fourplex ice service hosts so many out of town teams that there has been a scramble for hotel space nearby.

Home2 is an extended stay hotel chain. It will be curious to see what client base will use the hotel. The Winnipeg Jets as well as the Manitoba Moose use the MTS Iceplex and the facility continues to see multiple tournaments a year. It is a quite busy area and can be even busier when Red River Ex is up and running.

No announcements of stores and officer at Westport Festival but can they be far behind? Rumour has it that Overwaitea from British Columbia is looking for space for one of their grocery stores in Winnipeg, possibly a Save On Foods. Expect to hear more in the next weeks and months.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

MasterMind Toys Coming to Winnipeg


Mastermind Toys is in the middle of an aggressive western Canada expansion that includes Winnipeg. The Toronto-based store was founded in 1984 and started off as a 300 square foot retailer of children's educational toys and software. Today the privately owned chain numbers 40 stores and big players like Amazon and Toy R Us have been no impediment to the company increasing locations, employees and profits.

The target number of stores would appear to be 100 Canadian stores in the next number of years.

The company had admitted that they have a location that will be opening in Winnipeg in 2015 and their website indicates they are hiring managers now.

The big question is where. The rumour is in the Polo Park area but no confirmation on this.

Despite the bruising closing of stores in recent months like Future Shop and Target, there still seems to be strong absorption of those empty spaces and new retailing spaces across the country.

A Canadian toy retailer that seems to have the finger on the pulse of the nation and able to succeed will be a welcome addition in the Winnipeg market.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fools and Horses on Broadway Now Open


It took a while to get constructed but the Horses and Fools coffee house finally opened on the long weekend. It fills a long vacant spot at 379 Broadway that used to have a MoneyMart. The proximity to government offices and other office towers as well as newly expanding RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre probably will help this business find success. The growing residential community along Assiniboine in the shape of condos and apartments will likely find this window filled establishment a great meeting place.

There has always been a good lunch crowd on the busy Broadway.  A few choice restaurants such as Amici's and restaurants in the Fort Garry Hotel and Place satisfy more refined tastes. There are Starbucks, Tim's, Subway, The Fixx Express Bar and Cafe 22 for the many people who work Winnipeg's most pedestrian friendly neighbourhood.

In January, Nicks on Broadway moved into the old location of SelFISH sushi restaurant at 287 Broadway. The sandwich place is just down the street from the Fort Garry Hotel.

The vitality of the Broadway area has always been strong with only a few parking lots that front the street and a few unforgiving buildings that offer no real street presence. The ability to sit and enjoy the tree lined avenue has been one of the main strengths.

Fools and Horses with a window happy sit and enjoy the world walk by atmosphere should help the western leg of Broadway. It is difficult to know just how much the Convention Centre crossing York and occupying a surface lot will change things. However, if we look at what happened the original 1970s construction, it created a lot of surrounding activity including long lasting restaurants.

The need to be able connect various vital areas of the city together will only enhance the success of those places.  So a big welcome to Fools and Horses and a belated one to Nicks on Broadway.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blue Bomber Store Grand Opening Polo Park

Polo Park Store Near Starbucks
Seemed like a no brainer that with Grey Cup this year that the Blue Bombers should have a store beside what they have at Investor's Group Field. For a time before moving to the south of Winnipeg the Bombers had a fair sized store in St. Vital Centre. The ended with the team moving south.

It seemed natural that having a store in the Polo park area to replace the stadium store would happen. Alas, it didn't. As the Jets will tell you, marketing can help the bottom line and if merchandise is sold by the team it can be tied to all sorts of promotions.

The Winnipeg Jets used to have a good store in Polo Park in the 1990s. Sadly, the revenue earned there was no substitute for a salary cap and owning your own building. Not to mention a high Canadian dollar.

On May 23, the grand opening takes place for Polo Park Bomber store. It is set up to stay there until December upon which time they will re-evaluate.

Every year I get drawn in by the Blue Bombers. It has been a long time since we have been able to see them challenge for and win the Grey Cup. Hopefully a hometown team is all dressed in their best Bomber clothes to see a victory.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Polo Park 13th Most Productive Mall in Canada

The old Polo Park sign and sundial
Polo Park is the hands down biggest and most popular mall in Winnipeg. None compares in size in the province. But how does it stack up nation-wide?

Well, according to latest figures quite high.

1) Pacific Centre, Vancouver, BC: $1,498
2) Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto, ON: $1,420
3) Oakridge Shopping Centre, Vancouver, BC: $1,395
4) Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto, ON: $1,356
5) Southgate Shopping Centre, Edmonton, AB: $1,157
6) Chinook Centre, Calgary, AB: $1,125
7) Rideau Centre, Ottawa, ON: $1,008
8) Holt Renfrew Centre, Toronto, ON: "over $1,000" says landlord.
9) Market Mall, Calgary, AB: $942
10) Sherway Gardens, Toronto, ON: $935
11) Square One, Mississauga, ON: $910
12) Metropolis at Metrotown, Burnaby, BC: $886
13) Polo Park, Winnipeg, MB: $873
14) Peter Pond Mall, Ft. McMurray, AB: $870
15) Le Carrefour Laval, Laval, QC: $865
16) Fairview Mall, Toronto, ON: $843
17) Richmond Centre, Richmond, BC: $833
18) Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto ON: $820
19) Toronto Dominion Centre, Toronto, ON: $818
20) Bayview Village, Toronto, ON: $810

Most of the above malls have done multimillion renovations to enhance sales per square footage including Polo Park that is still putting the finishing touches on the second floor improvements within the old Zellers location.

Old Polo Park
 The exclusive stores for certain malls really helps the bottom line. For example, Polo Park having the only Apple store is enormous. Many Apple stores in Canada rack up $50 million is sales with only 5000 square feet!

Sears continues to drag down sales in many malls across Canada including Polo Park. Can the big retailer turn things around? Hard to say. However, it is very likely if they don't there are many who would gladly take over the space or at least part of it.

It would be interesting to see where St. Vital Mall stands in all of this. I suspect that it has too many stores with far lower sales volumes to ever challenge Polo Park. It has also has less room for growth unless they ever take possession of the Sears store or a few other parts of the building. One has to wonder if 20 plus stores in the Sears space would be better for that mall.

What is next for Polo Park? Well, fill the last spaces and shuffling a few more retailers around and come the next months perhaps the biggest sales in the mall's history now that renovations are nearly done. The only big question? Is Sears going to be part of those plans?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Defunct Video Stores of Winnipeg

Music Traders became home to Movie Village after it closed
The first video rental store in North America came in 1977 in Los Angeles when 20th Century Fox was in financial trouble. Despite the blockbuster Star Wars released in the same year, some studios were bleeding money because of older and decaying movie theatres and audiences who were turning to TV in greater numbers. To combat this at the behest of Magnetic Video, 20th Century Fox released 50 older films for the Betamax and VHS rental market.

This was not a cheap form of entertainment. In 1977, JVC introduced the first VCR for home use which included the ability to record for 2 hours. The cost was just under $1500. In today's dollars, it would be like a family spending $5500. Sony's Betamax released in 1975 was also priced in the $1500 range. The early movies available like Bridge on the River Kwai and Butch Cassidy had to ordered from a catalogue and were not inexpensive. Blank tapes were $20 or over $70 in today's dollars and movie tapes were $50 to $100 each which in today's dollars meant movies started at over $150 and up!

It is easy to see why the rental market for videos was the way to go. It was very expensive for the early adopters. I remember seeing a Betamax machine in 1979 at a friend's house. It was a huge box and worth a down payment on a home during those years. And that is no exaggeration. I recall not being impressed by the movies. None were new and I was not familiar with Hello, Dolly! or The King and I except seeing them at Rainbow Stage. Like a lot of people at the time, I longed for Star Wars.

In my house we only got cable and a colour TV a few years earlier.  Videon arrived in Winnipeg on the west side of the Red River in 1968. We had a black and white TV at the time. The screen wasn't huge but the cabinetry around it was. Cable even at $5 a month was a lot for my family so we didn't pick it up until late 1971. We only got a colour TV in 1973. It was only a year earlier that pretty much all prime TV from the U.S. was broadcast in colour.

My family would not be the first to get a VCR. However, the availability of videos and places to rent them sort of reached a critical mass around 1981. It was Christmas that year and in 1982 that many people got as a family gift, a VCR. For my family it was 1982 and for me the main reason was so I could see Star Wars which was being made available for the first time as a rental.

It was in 1981 or 1982 that the first video rental place in my neighbourhood on Academy Road near Lanark Street opened. The store was inside what used to be a sporting good store owned by present Royal Sports owners.

Video Zone on Academy Road had one wall of Beta tapes and the other wall had VHS. For some time, I believe you could even rent a Betamax to watch your rented video. Not sure when Adi's arrived on Academy Road but I thought a year or two later. Multiples of certain video stores started to arrive until there was well over a hundred and perhaps just under 200 store renting videos if you eventually included adult and 7/11 stores.

I am going to list as many of the defunct video stores by the street and cross street as I can. I am not going to remember all of them at all so will require assistance from you the trusted reader! Any details on the store will be appreciated as well. Expect this to be updated often.

Academy Road:

Video Zone: Lanark Street. Early arrival to the video rental business.
Adi's Video: Oak Street, one of a number Adi's.

Autumnwood:

Windsor Video: 1069 Autumnwood 

Britannica:

SIR Video: Later Rogers Video

Corydon Avenue:

Just New Releases: Lanark Street at Corydon Village Mall
Adi's Video: Tuxedo Village Mall

Dakota:

Bill's Home Video: At Meadowood. Now a Liqour Mart across from St. Vital Centre 

Goulet:

Goulet Viideo: 145 Goulet...now a Goodwill.

Grant Avenue:

Jumbo Video: Kenaston Village Mall which was replaced by a Rogers Video.
Rogers Video: Kenaston Village Mall across from Superstore at Grant
Blockbuster Video: Grant Park Shopping Mall
Blockbuster Video: Charleswood Shopping Mall

Henderson Highway:

Adi's Video: At Martin Street

Lakewood:

Jumbo Video: Later Blockbuster Video at 12 Lakewood
Country Video: 35 Lakewood Southdate Centre...now a Pet Valu. 


Osborne:

Movie Village: Rosyln Road. Huge selection and one of the longest lasting at that location before moving next door to Music Traders

Blockbuster Video: Wardlaw...now a Snap Fitness.

Marion:

St. Boniface Video: Beside Hair Passion 

McLeod:

Rogers Video - McLeod between Gateway and London

Meadowood:

The Video Superstore (TVS): Later best Sleep Centre
Video Den
Adi's Video
 
Portage Avenue:

Movie Gallery: Garfield Street. Now Gooch's Bike Shop

Roblin Boulevard:

Rogers Video: Charleswood Square at Dieppe Road
Pick-A-Flick: Between Sparrow and Dale...later to Forest Park Mall (Charleswood Mall)
Video Den: Sparrow and Dale strip mall after Pick-A-Flick

Springfield Road

Pick-A-Flick - Springfield and Raleigh
Blockbuster - Springfield and Henderson

St. Mary's Road

Bill's Video - Across from Tim Horton's  

Westmount:

Adi's Video: 414 Westmount 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Walmart to Take Over Southdale Target

Another Target location in Winnipeg has been snapped up. This time it is the Southdale location and the buyer is Walmart.

There was a lot of speculation about who would buy the location and probably even a few who thought it would sit empty or might have to be sub-divided. In the end though Walmart bought the location with a mind to tying up even more market share in Winnipeg.

Canadian Tire takes over Grant Park location and Walmart takes over Southdale. The only thing left in Winnipeg is Kildonan Place and Polo Park and no doubt there are still players left looking at those locations.

It would seem some retailers are ensuring no other competitor enters the market on wide-scale and they are filling gaps in their store geographies. Expect more announcements soon.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Canadian Tire to Take Over Grant Park Target Location


It was not unexpected. Canadian Tire is taking over a number of leases of old Targets across Canada. In Winnipeg there was really only one location that made sense and that was Grant Park Mall. All of the other Targets simply had a Canadian Tire already very close by as was mentioned on this blog.

Target did a fair sized expansion and work inside the Grant Park location before they moved in. Canadian Tire could benefit from the bigger footprint the store has now. To suit the needs of automotive repair, work will need to be done on the east side of the building.

Millions of dollars of improvements have been done on the Grant Park Mall over the last three years. Much of this had been triggered by Target's arrival. The Liquor Mart and Shppper's Drug mart all invested heavily and many other changes took place in the mall as well including movie theatre renovations. Like many landlords, Grant Park was probably stunned at how poor a performer Target was and how they quit the country two years after coming.

It will all work out in the end. Canadian Tire coming to Grant Park Mall makes more sense than almost any other retailer. The Canadian owned store has managed to be profitable even with big U.S. outfits moving in. Canadian Tire Polo Park is successful as is the Kenaston Canadian Tire. If anything the Grant Park location fills a geographic gap for shoppers looking for automotive stuff, sporting good, some small do it yourself items and the whole other range of products the store carries

There were complaints by some that the old Zellers locations were poor places for Target to succeed. Maybe so but Walmart started out at Grant Park in 1994 and used it as a springboard to Kenaston in 2000. I was excited as anyone when Target came. As with most, I was familiar with their brand from shopping in the States. We really never got what we saw in the States. And Canadians were told not to expect it either. Target Canada was specific to this market and was competing against Superstore and Walmart. In that they failed as well in terms of price, selection and keeping the shelves stocked. Business schools will be writing about Target's failure for years to come. Instead, the carcass will be picked over by others such as Canadian Tire.

It is hard to say how long it will take Canadian Tire to set up shop at Grant Park. It really depends on how many they have to shape it to the store needs. At the very least it stands to reason that six months is not unreasonable but it could be early 2016 before the store is ready.

This won't be the last announcement of what happens with old Target locations. Polo Park remains very attractive to several parties. Southdale might have more troubles but we'll see. I suspect the Target on Regent might have a few interested in it as well. All in all though, we have seen troubled retailers like Blockbuster, Linens and Things And Sears all have their properties snapped up. Add Zellers to the mix when Target took over their leases.

Grant Park Mall has probably found the perfect large size store after so long. What's more is that after their extensive renovations, they are well positioned to capture more of the market in the dense area around Grant Park.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Boulevard Pub and Bistro Opening Soon


The White Tower restaurant had been a long time fixture of Roblin Boulevard near the Charleswood bridge. It one of a series of Greek restaurants that were mainstays of the old municipal downtown just west of the Assiniboine Park entrance. Sometime last year the White Tower quietly closed and went dark.

It is part of the generational change taking place in the neighbourhood that saw the Charleswood Hotel and Charleswood Department Store all close in recent years. The hotel is now a large Co-Op Gas while the store has been taken over by Boutique La Femme. Hopefully, the English owners there have as long a time as the last owner. Originally known as La Grand Femme when they opened in 1986, they have lived a nomadic existence bouncing around Academy Road, Grant Park Mall and Tuxedo Junction. Perhaps the old Charleswood store will give them the space they finally need.

The sudden closing of U Weight Loss Clinic on Roblin and another vacancy next door is another opportunity for a retailer or restaurant to move into the area.

It is difficult to say why White Tower closed. My opinion is that dining in Winnipeg has changed to include more sports minded choices. And by this I mean that the Winnipeg Jets are transforming the landscape. Just recently a newspaper story talked about the Ichiban did a major reno to make sure they captured some of the Jets crowd that thought eating there meant a 2 hour allotment of time. The new Japanese restaurant has a pub-like component for a sportier crowd and faster turn-around time to get to the game.

I cannot say for certain that Asahi Japanese restaurant closed because of the Jets. My impression of that Charlewood restaurant that took over KFC's old spot is that competition from other Japanese places and a higher pricer fare hurt them. It certainly was a beautiful place inside. Several days ago I mentioned that Asahi was taken over by the Capital Grill. This appears to be the sportier choice of people nowadays with beer on tap.

The old downtown of Charleswood has had it's fair share of Greek family restaurants. Only Pappas remains as Matheo's and now White Tower have closed. So what will become of the White Tower? Well, the word is that it has taken over by longtime Charleswood business owner and resident Darcy Bruneau.

Old White Tower restaurant. Next door Redeemed closed as well.
The Bruneau family owned the Charleswood Hotel for 17 years and continue to operate hotels in the province elsewhere. The hotel is now the site of a 20 pump Co-Op Gas, convenience store and car wash.

When White Tower closed, Bruneau bought the place. Shortly after that, the clothing store Redeemed closed next door. This represented an opportunity to expand the footprint of the restaurant. The signage on the build reads Boulevard Pub Bistro. By all account they have been on tap and will be an upscale pub and bistro experience. A sportier crowd will also be able to watch Jets and Bombers games inside.

It will be interesting to see how these new restaurants will do and if this is the beginning of a new trend of places geared to the sport crowd.


Monday, April 20, 2015

LEGO Store to Open in Polo Park Mall?

It was rumoured for a while but now LEGO has posted job postings to manage their new Winnipeg LEGO store in Winnipeg. This is a much beloved toy and has a fair share of older audiences who love it as well.

What no story has revealed is where the store will be going except to say somewhere in the Polo Park area.

If we continue to believe that the those talking about LEGO coming to Winnipeg seem to know something then let's assume they also had an idea of the location. The story was being promoted was that they were to move in next to the Disney store on Polo Park's second floor.

Disney and LEGO would appear to be a kill combo especially with a few years of Star Wars bringing new fans into stores.

Polo Park continues to benefit from Zellers closing in the mall and Target never coming. The 22 stores in the old space occupied by the department store will generate far more buzz and more profit into the number 1 mall.

LEGO doesn't have that many stores in Canada so this is a huge gain for the city and the mall. Expect a lot of excitement when it opens.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Capital Grill and Bar Opening Soon

Formerly Asahi Japanese Restaurant
It sat empty over the winter but spring has seen some construction at the former Asahi Japanese Restaurant. The signs have gone up and a Facebook page started to promote the opening of Capital Grill and Bar. By all accounts it will be a place to get a beer on tap.

The Asahi was a fine restaurant and a gorgeous space but struggled to stay busy every night of the week. Prior to being a Japanese restaurant it was the long time home of KFC in Charleswood. The entire mall had a makeover and the only survivor was Subway. A Starbucks took over the former Robin's location.

The closure of the Charleswood Hotel had left a real gap in the watering hole department. The arrival of the Winnipeg Jets has also created real demand for a place to watch the game, have a drink and share some food. Some people have migrated to Sorrento's at the Charleswood Mall. Others have probably gone further afield.

The closure of the Asahi has made room for the sportier crowd. It will be race to see who opens first as there is another restaurant about to open just down the street. More on that in a future post.

There is a limited supply of rental space in Charleswood. For the last few years, the vacancy rate has been generally good but to be sure, there are not as many places for dinner and drinks. Pappas, a Greek restaurant has been a mainstay. Just recently White Tower restaurant closed. For the older crowd, some might remember Matheos on Roblin Boulevard near the west park entrance. Nowadays  it is occupied by company offices.

So welcome Capital and hope that new traditions in the neighbourhood are formed.

Friday, April 3, 2015

What Next for Target Location and Polo Park Plaza?

Outlet Mall and Hotel for Polo Park Plaza?
The Polo Park Plaza Target might be closing on April 12 but plans were already afoot for the 600,000 square foot complex north of Polo Park. The retail present currently located there is Marshalls, Bed Bath & Beyond, Mark’s, Atmosphere and Destination Maternity. In recent month's a Cora's has opened up adding to the amenities.

The loss of the Target is a blow to be sure but interest in the site the building stands on has to be high. It is a modern building with a parking lot protected from the elements. Some suggested Lowe's Home Improvement but I don't see that happening as most lumber yards require a drive in area to pick up supplies and unless substantial changes are made to the site, it seems unlikely. More possible takers might be Nordstrom's or la Maison Simons from Quebec that is expanding their department stores across Canada.

Even if the Target building has to come down before it is palatable to to another operator, I suspect the location will be too goo to pass up indefinitely.

Interestingly enough, other spots inside Polo Park Plaza may help solidify the whole mall as a hot spot. Shindico as developer wants to put an office, hotel, other bigger retailers and a 150,000 factory outlet mall with underground parking on the site.

Given that Outlet Collection of Winnipeg is well underway at Seasons of Tuxedo, this could be a foot race to to see who gets done first. My bet is that there is no way to catch up with Tuxedo although the appeal of being close to Polo Park might be a siren call for some.


It is a tough time for retailers to be sure. Several retailers have stumbled and failed or had to re-organize. All things considered Winnipeg could have been much worse hit by the closure of Future Shop. Winnipeg only lost two stores in the 60 plus stores shut down. A Regent Future Shop closed several months ago as well. Online sales from giants like Amazon are changing the market. Is it no wonder that Amazon is looking at drone delivery of product? At some point, when does the market reach saturation point on the roads for delivery service?

The one thing that the Polo Park area would probably like to put in in his housing. That option is off the table due to the nearby airport. If the rules had been in effect a few years ago, no apartments would have gone up in that area of St. James. The rules pretty much make the option difficult of not impossible to do today.

Target might be closing by Polo Park Plaza is probably going to be successful and once the location of the store becomes available, there are likely to be retailers bidding for it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What Next for Winnipeg's Old Target In Southdale?

Southdale Target Winnipeg Closed
The first of the Targets closed in Winnipeg at the Southdale location on Lakewood. The site had been a former Zellers and now it is being cleared of anything not nailed down. The option of what goes in the location seem to vary.

The stores unlikely to locate there are Canadian Tire or Giant Tiger which already have locations just down the street. Also in the area is a Shopper's Drug Mart. The thought of a grocery store as well seems limited with a Co-Op right next door.

The word is that Goodlife Fitness might be interested in the location but it might not be the entire store footprint which is around 100,000 square feet. This might actually be a good use if people examine how busy the Regent and Kenaston locations of Goodlife are.

There is a Pizza Hut in the corner of the lot and a McDonald's on the other corner. A Shell station and other retail borders the Target. It is unlikely the entire site will merit a re-design so the Target location itself will be what is changed.

Southdale Centre is an important commercial district but it is not a mall or a power center and the number of retailers who might be interested in the site will be small.

In the month of May all of the Targets will be closed and it will be a battle between landlords to fill spaces. In some cases that won't be difficult. In other cases, it will not be easy at all. Locations like Polo Park are probably not going to have a problem getting tenants. Southdale will have to think outside the box.

Two years ago the retail sector was on the upswing and the Canadian economy looked good. A downturn in oil revenues and consumers pulling in their spending and we see Target running back across the border. How fast the Target landlords find new tenants will be an indication how resilient the Canadian economy is.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Greg Selinger - Return of the King


I can't be the only one confused about the NDP leadership convention. In my mind an actual leadership race should take place only when the position is open or being held by an interim leader not running or campaigning for any party. It's simply really. Anything else is an unfair advantage.

It is shocking that any challengers agreed to the terms that Greg Selinger and his supporters placed on the leadership race. The wearing of two hats in the leadership race of premier and leadership candidate continued the confusion and cemented the advantage of the man who seemed to have all the cards in the game.

It gets worse though. The unique aspects of select delegates for unions meant that slots would be reserved for people the union chose to fill them. Once again the strongest advantage lay with the man who remained as active premier of the province.

In the end, two candidates emerged to run for the leadership despite everything being gamed against them. Steve Ashton possibly thought he could simply overwhelm the odds against him by selling even more memberships and having a few unions support him.  It would simply not be enough against even larger Winnipeg unions. Theresa Oswald entered the race thinking that there was possibly enough opposition that would congregate around her to win the leadership if it came down to two people.

The raw anger at the dissidents was a defining characteristic of Selinger's support. The feeling was that the outspoken MLAs were damaging the brand and that their tactics were odious and against democratic principles. The truth obviously was and is a little more fuzzy.

When Sunday was all said and done, Greg Selinger was affirmed as leader and Premier by the thinnest of margins. The purge began the very next day as staffers were let go. The outcomes for the six MLAs outside caucus remains undecided. But here is one fact: If all the MLAs resign immediately, we could be having an election right now.

The NDP would probably like nothing better than to hide for the next year and have people forget these last weeks but that is just not in the cards. A budget is required and work is required across a spectrum of ministries. And somehow the party has to come together.

Nothing is impossible but the NDP party did not come of the leadership race unified and motivated to fight an election.

It is often said governments defeat themselves. If this is not an example of that, I don't know what is.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Outlets of Seasons

Outlets of Seasons well under construction
Key to map above
The construction across from the Seasons of Tuxedo on the Outlets of Seasons site continues to go on at breakneck speed. So far most of the work is prepping the site for above ground construction but residential components are already three and four floors high and look to be done sometime in the next several months.

Some of the apartment work is adjacent to Outlets of Seasons but should ensure that the area has a population day and night. In and around Polo Park, it can be pretty empty once the stores close.

In the aftermath of so many retailers closing across Canada, it is important to know that many continue to open. Location, location, location is the old axiom in business retailing. As Target found out, the old Zellers locations were not great, their approach to the Canadian market even worse and despite much anticipation and good will, they failed and mightily.

The location at Kenaston and Sterling Lyon should offer a huge advantage to retailers and restaurants. However, it is not a panacea. Just ask River City Sports which is closed in Seasons of Tuxedo. Once IKEA and Cabela's went up, the retailing side stalled and the home improvement center site remains vacant as does the planned addition retailing beside the former River City Sports location.  I have no doubts those areas will fill up but sometimes there is a price that is paid for being the first to be on a site.

So what will be in the Outlets of Seasons site? Well, the developer is still keeping that under wraps but the site outline is revealing. It shows a hotel and two luxury car dealerships facing out to Kenaston. This would seem to be second hotel in the planning phase along Kenaston and the second and third car dealerships. Already down the street Mercedes is building their luxury car dealership to replace their Portage Avenue location.

Also of note are the dozen or so restaurants scattered about the Outlets of Seasons site. To be sure there are a few restaurants across the street at Seasons of Tuxedo but they are lite on sit down casual dining. In short, where are the Earl's, Moxies and Keg's? It is highly likely something new will locate in that area that the city has not seen before. Mayhaps it could be a Milestone's.

The centerpiece to the Outlets of Seasons site is an indoor factory outlet mall. To be sure this is more suitable for our climate. Size-wise, it looks as if 100 stores will be located inside. Outside there will be a mix of smaller and larger retailers. Four are listed as anchors.

In light of the many jobs lost as a result of Target's closing, we can hope that this new mall will add that many jobs and more. Development appears more balanced as it incorporates far more residential than we have seen in decades. It is has already eased a terribly low vacancy rate, created pet friendly rental units and ones where all five appliances and storage is included.

The city needs to continue to push for sidewalk and bike path connectivity to surrounding areas. One missing component could be a grocery store.

Stay tuned for further developments.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Parker Avenue Mess Up

Bulk of Parker Avenue Needed for Water and Bus
How did it happen?

Some time ago, I suggested resistance by people along Parker to any change was not likely garner much sympathy. Declarations that the area was a park and then shielding access to the area by blocking roads so that only those living in the area could enjoy the land wasn't in the cards.

The land in question was never designated park land. It has always been zoned industrial and some of the area was used to move high powered hydro lines.

The Fort Rouge Yards/Parker Land Swap was a mess up from start to finish. These over clever moves never properly assessed the value of the lands in question, the future needs of those lands or the environmental concerns. And now we have city officials coming cup in hand with expropriation needs for water retention and bus rapid transit.

What a screw-up.

The bulk of the land around Parker Avenue is now needed for water retention to protect from flooding immediately north in Fort Rouge.  The rest of it is needed for bus rapid transit. If there is any land left for townhouses as was first suggested by the Gem Equities land swap, you've got me. Given the slow or non-development approach of Gem, it is possible we might all be in the old age homes before we ever saw houses in the Parker area.

In any event, the city has to use expropriation for land that just a few short years ago that it could have done this work of water retention and transit for nothing. Is the crazy or what?

Once again Parker Avenue people are not likely to be happy. Many of them will still want nothing to do with the city plans but the bugger my neighbours to the north and their flooding issues is not kosher. Likewise the BRT plans and expropriations everywhere is probably going to make for many sour faces.

A place to hold water
It is difficult to know why we get into these messes. It undermines the faith people have that projects can proceed the make sense logically, are researched, presented for discussion, modified and then carried out. There will always be some resistance but sometimes people buy in afterwards as in the case of Safeway in Osborne Village. There were many that wanted no change in configuration of the store but now there is wide acknowledgement that the vitality of that grocery store has been essential to the success of the residents living in that community.

A ferocious response can be expected when this move hits the council floor this week. I don't blame anyone for throwing their hands up in the air.

For the moment my support lies for those in the Fort Rouge area who may be getting flooded basements over water storage. They have every right as anyone in the city to protection of their properties. To that end, I support water retention if indeed the environmental assessments declare a need.

For the people of Parker Avenue, there is still a possibility of land to enjoy if pathways and the like come as part of the project.

As for the BRT expropriation, I still don't know enough about it to get a handle on it. Every time I think I am close to figuring it out, it seems I know nothing.

Everyone take a deep breath. It is going to be a long week.