Here's the full article with rendering and Taylors two cents worth too.
An artist’s conception of the Penhorn Mall redevelopment in Dartmouth.
New look for old mall
Redevelopment includes new Sobeys grocery, will retain Sears
By CLARE MELLOR Business Reporter
Wed. May 14 - 6:01 AM
Redevelopment plans for the Penhorn Mall site announced Tuesday include building a new strip mall and a brand new Sobeys store, but other details are sketchy.
"There is no enclosed shopping centre at the end of the day," said Steve Cleroux, director of real estate development for ECL Developments Ltd. (ECL), a subsidiary of Empire Co. Ltd., which owns the 40-acre site.
Twenty acres of vacant land at the back of the mall is apparently being considered as a spot for new Halifax Regional Municipality rinks, as well as a mixed residential neighbourhood, trails and green space.
"We just know that is future development and we are open to discussions and recommendations and suggestions. . . . We have had very, very initial discussions with HRM," Mr. Cleroux said Tuesday.
ECL has not decided whether to keep or tear down the existing mall . It depends on whether the space can be utilized, he said.
"It is a matter of finding the right tenant," Mr. Cleroux said.
The first phase of the plan includes building a new Sobeys store where Wal-Mart used to be. Demolition of the former Wal-Mart building will begin next month, Mr. Cleroux said.
A "community retail complex" will be built on the front 20 acres of the site, close to Portland Street, and will include a 56,000-square-foot strip mall (less than half the size of the current mall). There will be several sites for free-standing commercial buildings, he said.
It is expected that Sears will remain where it is.
Eliani Cugini, a spokeswoman for Sears Canada, says the company does not want to say anything about its plans or the redevelopment at this point.
"Until the plans (for the mall) are finalized, we are not going to say anything," she said Tuesday from Toronto.
Mr. Cleroux could not say Tuesday when the redevelopment will begin or how much it is expected to cost. He did not name any new retail tenants for the redevelopment.
For months, Penhorn, which is featured in a YouTube video on "dead malls," has had more empty spots than tenants. The nail in the coffin was the loss of Wal-Mart last year to nearby Dartmouth Crossing.
"You need those national retailers. We’ve done everything to try to attract them but we just haven’t been able to. Given the markets across North America, community shopping centres are the first ones to suffer when big-box retailers come to town Mr. Cleroux said.
The company informed the 28 remaining Penhorn mall tenants of the redevelopment before making a public announcement. It is not known how many current tenants will be part of the new strip mall.
"We know it will take a few months to knock Wal-Mart down and then get the site ready for Sobeys. In the interim period, we will be discussing future plans of the existing tenants, first and foremost, and where their ultimate home is going to be and the schedule. And ultimately, what we build will kind of fall out of those discussions," Mr. Cleroux said
"Unfortunately, it may not be a reality that every single tenant in the shopping centre today has a home in the new development."
Vince Whebby, co-owner of Tattletales Books Ltd. said Tuesday it is "positive" that ECL Developments has finally made an announcement and that the new development will include retail space. There have been many rumours that it would be only a residential development.
However, there are still many unknowns for retailers, such as costs of renting new space in the new development.
"Right now, we have more questions than answers," he said.
Tattletales, which has been in the mall for 13 years, has been more and more reliant on its wholesale business due to diminishing traffic in the mall, he said.
Since Penhorn Mall is a key "transportation hub" for Dartmouth, ECL has started discussions with Metro Transit over how the redevelopment can include a MetroLink bus station. The parking lots have become an informal park-and-ride spot for many commuters.
"This arrangement would need to be formalized within the redevelopment, but ECL has expressed its willingness to do so," ECL said in a news release Tuesday.
There are also discussions with Halifax Regional Municipality about integrating green space and a pedestrian walkway.
"Anything is an improvement over what has been going on for the last couple of years. Let’s put it that way," Mr. Cleroux said.
New life for an old mall
By ROGER TAYLOR Business Columnist
Wed. May 14 - 6:35 AM
RICKY, the career petty criminal from Trailer Park Boys, once tried to go legit by working for a down-in-the-mouth shopping mall.
Most viewers of the popular cable television show probably didn’t know this, but Penhorn Mall was playing the part of the unnamed shopping centre, which was desperate enough to hire Ricky as, of all things, a security guard.
Well, the truth wasn’t far off from fiction. Penhorn Mall had seen better days even before Dartmouth Crossing came along, but when the once-popular shopping centre lost a major tenant, Wal-Mart, to the new development, it took a major nosedive.
With the emergence of Dartmouth Crossing, most people expected Penhorn owner Empire Co. Ltd. to either find a buyer for the prime piece of Dartmouth real estate or bulldoze the whole complex.
After failing to find a taker for the property as is, Empire has finally decided to redevelop the site by employing a plan of addition by subtraction.
The Empire subsidiary ECL Developments Ltd. announced Tuesday that Penhorn Mall will undergo a "phased transformation" that will change the traditional covered shopping mall into a community retail complex occupying the front eight hectares of land closest to Portland Street.
The former Wal-Mart building will be torn down and replaced by a new Sobeys store, which will match the footprint of the old structure.
Sobeys is also a wholly owned subsidiary of Empire. In addition, a 56,000-square-foot strip mall will be built along with several free-standing pad sites for commercial development.
The redeveloped Penhorn Mall will continue to be home to the only Sears store on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbour.
Steve Cleroux, director of real estate development for ECL, told me the project will cost millions to complete but he isn’t ready to reveal the names of potential new tenants just yet.
While the front eight hectares will continue to be a retail development, complemented by a major Metro Transit terminal, the company isn’t saying what it has in mind for future development opportunities and green space on another eight hectares of land behind the retail operations.
It is widely known that the city has been looking at the Penhorn Mall site as a possible location for a couple of new ice rinks. Empire may also decide to develop a residential component or perhaps a hotel on the site.
"This is an exciting project for ECL and for the community surrounding Penhorn Mall," Cleroux said in a news release.
The replacement of the existing Penhorn Mall Sobeys with a new structure comes as a small surprise. Just down the road in the Russell Lake West development, Sobeys is constructing a store as part of a small commercial centre being built by Westwood Developments of Halifax.
Sobeys also has a large store in Westphal Plaza, which is just a stone’s throw from Penhorn.
But Jill Thomas-Myrick, who speaks for Sobeys in Atlantic Canada, told me Tuesday that the company is going to be replacing that store, too.
Construction will start this month on a new Sobeys on the site of the former Tacoma Drive Canadian Tire store. Canadian Tire moved to Dartmouth Crossing last spring.
Although she confirmed the long-rumoured move from Westphal Plaza to Tacoma Drive, Thomas-Myrick would not reveal how large the Tacoma Drive store will be or how much it will cost.
The Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. outlet in the plaza, which is among the best-performing liquor stores in the province, is also making the move to Tacoma Drive as part of the Sobeys redevelopment.