Reinvention of Niagara Square property gains momentum with new Costco
Friday, November 13, 2020
TORONTO, ON — (November 13, 2020)
It became obvious to Bayfield Realty that the retail concept of the site as it existed wasn’t sustainable.
The long-awaited grand opening of the huge Costco store at Niagara Square on Friday might have grabbed headlines, but the company that owns the former mall property wants to make it clear that it has many more plans for the property off McLeod Road.
Bayfield Realty Advisors of Toronto purchased the property together with RioCan REIT in 2010 when it was a hybrid retail centre consisting of about 180,000 square feet of enclosed mall space and 210,000 square feet of big-box stores such as Future Shop and other standalone businesses such as the Cineplex movie theatre.
Malls in many cities in North America, which once ruled the retail landscape, have struggled in recent years with the surge in online shopping and competition from standalone big-box stores.
“It became apparent to Bayfield in 2016 that the retail concept of the shopping centre as it then existed was not sustainable,” said Bayfield chief investment officer Ron Perlmutter.
So, he said, Bayfield opted to purchase RioCan’s stake in the property and then developed a strategy for the reinvention of the shopping centre.
The retail model it opted for was that of a “well-anchored, service-oriented, easily navigable, modern, open format retail centre (that) would include a number of successful destinational retailers,” which would return the site to being the dominant retail centre in Niagara Falls, said Perlmutter.
That led to the demolition of the enclosed mall portion of the property and the renovation or construction of an additional 70,000 square feet of space and “pad buildings,” as well as planning for improved pedestrian and vehicle traffic circulation, Bayfield said.
But the company knew that for the plan to work, it needed a very big draw. “If the project was to be successful, it required bringing a large, popular retail anchor to the site and the retention of the existing successful (big) box retailers and the two banks (that) were tenants of the enclosed mall,” said Perlmutter.
The company landed its anchor store when it attracted Costco, which was a major draw at its location near the YMCA in St. Catharines. The new 155,343-square-foot warehouse store with a full-scale gas bar opened its doors at 7 a.m. on Friday and saw big crowds throughout the day.
Bayfield also needed to attract additional popular tenants to the site. Perlmutter said new Dollarama and Giant Tiger locations will occupy 10,000-square-foot and 27,500-square-foot stores, opening soon.
The Bank of Montreal and CIBC, which were tenants of the former enclosed mall, have relocated to drive-thru buildings in the parking area on the QEW side of the site.
Perlmutter said Bayfield built a brand new 25,000-square-foot store for Winners, a very popular store in the former mall, and is in the process of completing an 8,000-square-foot addition to the existing 20,000-square-foot Brick store.
Other tenants of the existing shopping centre, which are remaining on the site and which Perlmutter said will enhance the merchandise offerings of the shopping centre, are Michaels, Jysk and World Gym.
The Mandarin restaurant will also remain on the property and new restaurants will be coming, said Perlmutter.
“And of course the premier movie theatre of the Niagara region, the Cineplex Multiplex, will continue to be an important tenant and destination for the shopping centre,” he said.
Perlmutter said further developments and announcements for the shopping destination will be forthcoming.
Mayor Jim Diodati said in a news release that the opening of the Costco store “will act as a catalyst for this retail node in a high-growth area” in the city’s booming south end.