The new owners of the Chilliwack Mall have a revitalization plan for the struggling shopping centre that involves “demalling” the existing structure and scattering key tenants in standalone structures on the edges of the property.
“Demalling” has been a trend in commercial urbanism across North America for well over a decade, and involves abandoning the traditional anchor tenants at each end of an indoor hallway of storefronts, a style of shopping that emerged in the 1960s.
|Proposed development/intensification plan for the Chilliwack Mall. (SmartCentres)|
In this redesign, the neutral indoor area is gone in favour of various buildings with individual or multiple retail shops surrounded by parking.
In 2017, Ontario-based SmartCentres Real Estate Investment Trust purchased the Chilliwack Mall, which already had a “significant amount of vacancy,” according to SmartCentres vice-president of corporate affairs Sandra Kaiser.
“Currently we are exploring opportunities to revitalize the Mall by ‘demalling’ the shopping centre and relocating the tenants to new space on the site,” Kaiser told The Progress via email.
The proposed revitalization project, which also considers two four-storey residential buildings and/or a seniors residence, was laid out in brief in an investor presentation accompanying the company’s third quarter financial report.
The development plan, which Kaiser said is in the “very early stags of planning” involves keeping Safeway, Winners and Sport Chek and demolishing the existing mall. The drawings then show three standalone retail structures from between 7,000-square-feet and 9,000-square-feet (SF) out at Luckakuck Way where other key tenants would be relocated.
The design also shows a proposed McDonald’s in front of the Safeway on Luckakuck Way, 16,737 SF of further retail space behind where the current mall is sited, and two four-storey apartments, one possibly to be a seniors’ residence. That housing would include a total of 187 underground parking stalls and 34 at grade.
”We are also considering different uses such as residential or seniors’ living,” Kaiser explained. “We are at the very early stages of planning and have not made any applications to the City of Chilliwack.
“We will keep our tenants and the community at large informed as our plans develop.”
When WalMart left the Chilliwack Mall in late 2010, the owners then moved to the current redevelopment adding the Winners, Sport Chek and Reitmans as part of an $11 million redevelopment.