By Craig Patterson
The Avalon Mall in St. John’s, Newfoundland, has announced several new tenants as landlord Crombie REIT invests heavily in the regional shopping centre. It’s part of a three-year redevelopment project for what is considered to be the top enclosed retail centre in Newfoundland and Labrador.
That status is expected to be maintained as Crombie invests an estimated $112.3 million in Avalon Mall. The expansion project began in 2017 when the mall celebrated its 50th anniversary, with construction ongoing until late 2020.
The first H&M store in Newfoundland and Labrador has been announced for Avalon Mall, with an expected opening date in the third quarter of 2020. Other new tenants opening next year will include Old Navy, The Gap and Banana Republic.
H&M and Old Navy will backfill the mall’s former Winners/HomeSense location, according to Marcel Elliott, Regional Property and Leasing Manager of Avalon Mall. Last week, Winners/HomeSense relocated from a 42,929 square foot space to 50,405 square foot space in part of the mall’s repurposed Sears space.
H&M will measure about 23,000 square feet, while Old Navy will occupy about 16,000 square feet on one level.
The Gap and Banana republic will be a “combo store” spanning about 15,000 square feet in part of the mall’s new expansion that the landlord is building as part of the mall overhaul.
Mr. Elliott said that there is still about 80,000 square feet of the expansion wing that is now under negotiation, and that the landlord will be making more tenant announcements when permitted.
"We're very pleased with the progress we're making on the enhancement and expansion of Avalon Mall. This project aligns with Crombie's commitment to invest in welcoming, convenient properties that enrich the communities in which we operate," says Don Clow, President and CEO of Crombie REIT. "Together with the recent opening of The Rec Room, and this week's opening of Winners HomeSense, these world-class retailers will enhance our customers' experience and ensure Avalon Mall is the premiere shopping destination in Newfoundland and Labrador."
Popular UK brand Lush Cosmetics opened its first store in Newfoundland earlier this year, as Avalon Mall continues to attract the kind of retail tenants that one might find in larger cities. Sephora, Lululemon, Aldo, Roots, Olsen Europe and Victoria’s Secret are among the mall’s more than 140 stores and services. Entertainment concept ‘The Rec Room’ opened a 30,565 square foot space on the second level of Avalon Mall in the spring, which has resulted in increased foot traffic to the centre.
The city of St. John’s had a population of almost 109,000 people in 2016, with the metro population exceeding 200,000 residents. The population of Newfoundland and Labrador is at almost 525,000, and Avalon Mall is the dominant shopping centre for the region.
The $112.3 million Avalon Mall redevelopment and expansion project includes interior common areas that are being transformed with contemporary porcelain tile and acoustic ceiling tiles. Lighting is being updated to LED linear and recessed downlight fixtures. A clerestory will replace existing skylights to bring in more natural light to common areas.
Avalon Mall’s food court will also see updates, including modern finishes as well as new wooden seating and furniture. Contemporary porcelain tile and acoustic ceiling tiles will also be installed.
New storefront design criteria is being implemented during the project as the centre is modernized, bringing Avalon Mall more in line with updated shopping centres in major Canadian markets.
Last year, a four-level 875 space parking structure opened at Avalon Mall, and the project also included a redesign and realignment of vehicular access to Kenmount Road. The new parking structure was part of Phase 1 of the project, which involved an investment of about $54.5 million.
Last year, Retail Insider reported on the substantial overhaul of Avalon Mall, which is the most ambitious renovation of any shopping centre in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history. As part of the redevelopment, about 60,000 square feet of the 137,000 square foot Sears space was chopped off for the new parking structure, and the landlord said that it would also be building out in front of it. Part of the remaining Sears space, itself, is being subdivided to create smaller units as well as mid-size to big-box units, according to Mr. Elliott.
Despite the reduction in the mall’s Sears box, the net gain for Avalon Mall once the expansion is completed is about 20,000 square feet, Mr. Elliot said at the time. In total, more than 35 tenants will be added when the project is completed.
That additional space for retailers will indeed come in handy. For the past decade, Avalon Mall has had an almost zero vacancy rate and has a waiting list of tenants wanting to move into the centre.
Avalon Mall will have about 593,000 square feet of GLA after the expansion project is completed. According to Crombie RETI’s website, the population within a seven kilometre radius of Avalon Mall is 117,144 residents. The Average household income is an impressive $92,056. Last year, annual sales per square foot at Avalon Mall were almost $700, which makes it one of the top performing centres in the Canadian Maritime provinces.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: email@example.com