Calgary's Innovative New Horizon Mall Prepares for Opening

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By Mario Toneguzzi

Calgary realtor and investor Albert Fialkow views the New Horizon Mall on the outskirts of Calgary as a Field of Dreams - a clear reference to the popular movie from a few years ago.

 Albert Fialkow

Albert Fialkow

“They have a vision of ownership and they’ve created the opportunity . . .  by allowing people to own their own spaces. And I believe. Obviously I’ve put my money where my mouth is. I believe if you build it they will come,” said Fialkow on Thursday as the new shopping centre conducted a media tour to announce that more than 500 businesses are beginning to take possession of their stores in the $200-million mall.

Fialkow bought two units in the mall of 203 square feet and 291 square feet, paying about $310,000 and $410,000 respectively. He is expecting to lease them both out.

The international-themed mall is located along the busy Queen Elizabeth II Highway, in Rocky View County, right beside the CrossIron Mills shopping centre which opened August 2009.

New Horizon is unique because individual units were sold to either investors who will lease out the space, like Fialkow, or directly to individual store owners.

In terms of the number of stores in the mall, it’s the largest in Calgary and second largest in Alberta behind the West Edmonton Mall. Stores are expected to start opening for business this summer.

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New Horizon was developed by the Torgan Group and MPI Property Group.

The 320,000-square-foot mall, which is about 99 per cent sold, will have more than 500 stores ranging in size from 285 square feet to 855 square feet. The units were priced between $190,000 and $750,000.

The food court features 26 sold-out units with seats for more than 300 shoppers. The shopping centre also has underground parkade and outside surface parking.

“The CrossIron Mills attracts over eight million people a year and the other advantage here with the small spaces the cost of entry is nominal. Before I purchased I looked trying to find out exactly what it costs to have a kiosk or a size in a mall. Anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 a month is what the malls charge,” says Fialkow.

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“Well, you can get into here for a fraction of the price. That really opens the door for a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners and investors to profit and share along with the development of the mall . . . I think the traffic will come. Really I believe in that Field of Dreams analogy. If you build it, they will come. Because people are curious. And you’re going to have the variety and diversity in this mall that really doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

  Mohamed Kharfan

Mohamed Kharfan

Calgary investor Moe Kharfan, who bought four units in the mall, will be leasing them to various services and products.

“I bought here because I thought it was a really unique opportunity. There’s nothing like it in Western Canada. And it’s really a place for a small business person to start a business in a major Calgary mall.  The larger malls are quite expensive. This is quite affordable for a person to start a retail business,” says Kharfan.

He bought two units for about $500,000 each of just under 500 square feet and two just under 300 square feet for about $350,000 each.

 Ramesh Prajuli

Ramesh Prajuli

Ramesh Prajuli bought one unit of 143 square feet for $182,000 in the mall where he will open the Himalayan Arts and Crafts store.

“This is kind of very exciting and a unique opportunity here in Canada. Nowhere else are you going to own a store unit in a mall. So this is kind of a unique opportunity I found here. That’s why I bought it,” says Prajuli. The family owns a retail business in Nepal. “I want to do something over there as an own business.

“It’s unique because you’re investing in a property as well as investing in your business.”

  Wasim Elafech

Wasim Elafech

Wasim Elafech, a realtor with Century 21 Bravo, who helped in the sale of units in the entire mall and also invested in purchasing one unit himself, says a leasing program has begun where the company will be leasing units for the owners of the properties. A leasing office has been opened in the mall.

“We have about roughly 40 closings (on purchases) per day throughout the month of May,” says Elafech. “Whenever somebody closes, they come in, we give them a key and they can start the process of building out their unit and opening the store.”

  Eli Swirksy

Eli Swirksy

Eli Swirksy, president of Torgan Group, says the New Horizon Mall is a unique addition to Calgary’s vibrant and entrepreneurial retail landscape.

“Unlike other malls which are occupied primarily by large corporations and chains, New Horizon Mall will encompass a collection of small businesses, family enterprises and local entrepreneurs bringing unique products and services to the Calgary region,” he says.

“Smaller businesses have long wanted access to the same kind of shopping mall environment and the corresponding customer base enjoyed by larger businesses. This mall breaks down the barriers for businesses looking for that retail advantage in a unique mall environment not found anywhere else in Southern Alberta . . .  I believe that the New Horizon Mall will fill an important gap in the retail environment in Calgary and offer a distinctive avenue for businesses looking to expand and grow their customer base.

“I would expect by the summer we’ll be well underway and maybe not fully open but a majority of the stores I think will be open by the summer.”

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Swirsky says the fact New Horizon is located so close to CrossIron Mills is “great” because it offers a different shopping experience to that mall. He expects shoppers to go back and forth between the two malls because of the proximity.

“We actually complement each other very well,” he says.

The third level of the mall will be home to the food court, banquet hall and children’s play space. The main floor centre area will host events and entertainment throughout the year.

The basement level of the mall includes the underground parking as well as space for anchor tenants.

The mall’s builder was Ledcor Construction Limited.

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com.

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Mario Toneguzzi

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com.