‘We need your business in Sylvan Lake’

A retail gap analysis suggests Sylvan Lake should lure more restaurants, family entertainment and personal services businesses. Town council got its first look at the first phase of the analysis by consultants MXD Development Strategists on Monday.

A retail gap analysis suggests Sylvan Lake should lure more restaurants, family entertainment and personal services businesses.

Town council got its first look at the first phase of the analysis by consultants MXD Development Strategists on Monday.

It’s take on Sylvan Lake is that it has a healthy retail mix but there is room to grow, particularly in areas that cater to local residents such as groceries and personal services, which covers everything from banks, specialty grocers, dry cleaners, shoe repair and cellphone dealers, to hair salons. There is also room for clothing, home furnishings and accessories.

Vicki Kurz, the town’s economic development officer, said the gap analysis provides important support when she attends events such as the International Council of Shopping Centres annual meeting, scheduled for Whistler, B.C., in January.

The event draws the whole gamut of retailers, franchises and hotel chains, as well as developers and economic development officials.

“What this (analysis) does is provide me with the tools to go to that event and say, ‘Look, we need your business in Sylvan Lake,’” said Kurz.

Site selectors for retailers and other businesses are regularly scouting Sylvan Lake and the analysis is useful information for them.

While Sylvan Lake’s proximity to Red Deer imposes some limitations on retail prospects, as does the community’s size, there are plenty of regional and national retailers that could be attracted. Among those suggested are popular fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s, family dining spots such as Montana’s Cookhouse or East Side Mario’s, and grocers such as Loblaws or Save On Foods. Shaw, Rogers, Hakim Optical are others suggested as examples of potential targets.

Kurz said the analysis will be used to develop the next phase of the project, a strategy to specifically target certain retail segments that are under-served.

“In order to keep the shopping here and local, and convenient for the residents, those places need to be located here.

“It’s about meeting the immediate needs of residents and reducing that leakage.”

According to the town’s recent census, 75 per cent of residents shop in town.

Consultants recommend the town promote more retail development at its west end, where plenty of residential growth is happening.

The town is also encouraged to move away from big box retail power centres towards small neighbourhood retail “villages.”

Short- and long-term strategies should be developed for town’s popular waterfront district to turn it into a year-round destination and boost its appeal to potential retailers.

Consultants identified several prime sites for future retail. Community retail sites are suggested at Hwy 20 and Memorial Trail, highway commercial along Hwy 11 east of 60th Street and a big box retail site could go east of Hwy 20 north of the existing Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire stores.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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