A drive along McPhillips will quickly reveal some opportunities that have come up a result of grocery store and department store closures. The Northgate Shopping Centre in 2010 had a 98% occupancy rate but the shut down of Zellers a few years back had the place looking a little forlorn.
The 230,000 square foot mall was constructed in 1962 and renovated in 1998 and 2004. In 2010 it was put up for sale for $20 million. It has the last discount movie theatre in Winnipeg with Cinema City.
The arrival of Target initiated the ending of Zellers at Northgate and the big American retailer looked at the site and simply said no. And there it sat empty for the longest time until Jimmy Pattison in Vancouver saw an opportunity to bring his B.C. based grocery business Save-On Foods to Manitoba.
The Save-On Foods sign in now up even while the grocery is still being spruced up with the green colouring of the company. When Pattison announced the store was coming, the neughbourhood turned in droves and triumphant. While not a grocery desert, recent closures of a Safeway as well as the Zellers hurt competitiveness on the street.
The new construction in front of the Save On Foods will be the home to Winnipeg’s second Jollibee’s location. The first will be on Ellice north of Polo Park.
The combination of a Save on Foods and Jollibee’s at Northgate vaults the down at its heels mall to top attraction on McPhillips. No word on when the grocer opens but it is a good bet sometime in the next several weeks. As for Jollibee’s, probably mid-summer.
This has been a guest editorial by John Dobbin.
To read more from John, visit his blog Observations, Reservations, Conversations