Target departure should create leasing opportunities

The departure of Target from Bower Place shopping centre last week should create new leasing opportunities, says the mall’s manager. John Rooke said he couldn’t speculate on what exactly will happen to the space vacated by the department store chain, noting that it remains subject to a long-term lease.

The departure of Target from Bower Place shopping centre last week should create new leasing opportunities, says the mall’s manager.

John Rooke said he couldn’t speculate on what exactly will happen to the space vacated by the department store chain, noting that it remains subject to a long-term lease.

“They’re still administering it, they’re still paying rent and ultimately they are looking for a backfill for the space as well.”

The picture should become clearer as Target Canada moves through bankruptcy proceedings under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, he said.

The mall’s owner faces a potential loss of lease revenue, confirmed Rooke, but with a vacancy rate of just 0.5 per cent, Bower Place is an appealing place for prospective tenants.

“We really do view it as an opportunity here and hopefully can bring something that maybe doesn’t exist in Red Deer, or on a larger scale.”

Rooke doesn’t think the loss of Target will significantly reduce consumer traffic at the mall, pointing to other anchors like Hudson’s Bay, Sears and Toys “R” Us, and its strong mix of other popular shops.

“It’s that variety and assortment that really is driving traffic to the mall, and continues to do so.”

Some mall merchants worried about a decline in shopper volumes when Zellers left the same space at the end of 2012, said Rooke.

But the impact was minimal, and he anticipates the same thing now.

“As much as Target was a draw, it didn’t add exponentially to our traffic like we all thought it would.”

Despite concerns about the economic health of Alberta, retail sales at Bower Place have remained brisk, said Rooke.

“The sales don’t seem to be going in any negative direction at this point in time.

“I don’t have the full March picture yet‚ but January and February we were up significantly year over year.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com