Big plans for old Sears site

The former Sears Canada space in Parkland Mall could soon undergo a major transformation.

The former Sears Canada space in Parkland Mall could soon undergo a major transformation.

The area became vacant when Sears relocated to Bower Place Shopping Centre in August 2008. For much of the time since then, the space has been used by Urban Planet and Labels clothing stores, with each occupying about 44,000 square feet.

But mall manager Dan Hachey said senior management has been working on a “major redevelopment strategy” that could see the area reconfigured for new retail uses.

“I would say it’s 99 per cent that we’ll be demolishing with a redevelopment. So the former Sears would come down.”

Hachey said prospective tenants are already being approached and told about the plans for Parkland Mall.

“Our development and leasing teams are out pounding the pavement for those retailers that we earmarked.”

He’s hoping announcements about the mall changes and new businesses there can be made within months.

“There is interest,” said Hachey, adding that the tenants being targeted are larger box retailers.

The economic downturn makes this process more difficult, he acknowledged.

“Most retailers are looking at tightening up, not expanding. However, they won’t turn down opportunity.”

Urban Planet and Labels were both signed to short-term leases, which are due to expire in April. Although their futures in the mall remain uncertain, Labels has been advertising a “closing down sale” in recent weeks.

“We’re hoping that both will consider staying,” said Hachey, “but because that is a redevelopment area of the shopping centre — we’re working on those plans and negotiating with retailers for a redevelopment — we can’t lock in long term.”

He said Urban Planet and Labels, which are both warehouse-style clothing stores, have been ideal for the space as it now exists. But they were signed with the understanding that the situation could change.

“Those deals were intentionally short-term because of our long-term redevelopment plans.”

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