Nov 24 2011
TFN members' approval sought for mall development

Christine Lyon photo

Chris Hartman, CEO of Tsawwassen Economic Development Corp., surveys the land where a proposed 1.2 million square foot mall could stand in 2015.

By Christine Lyon

On Jan. 18, 2012, Tsawwassen First Nation members will vote on a proposal that includes building two large-scale mall developments spread over 180 acres of their land.

Although additional approvals would be required for the project to get the green light, the members' consent would be a significant step.

"From there, with the approvals in place, the plan is to break ground come summer and to celebrate a grand opening summer/fall of 2015," said Chris Hartman, CEO of the TFN Economic Development Corp.

The proposed project site sits on the north side of Highway 17, west of 52nd Street, and would host two projects—Tsawwassen Mills and Tsawwassen Commons.

The Commons, to be developed by PDG Tsawwassen Investments Ltd., a division of Property Development Group, would be an outdoor retail shopping centre hosting a mix of national and local retail shops, restaurants and financial services, covering 550,000 square feet. The centre would include three major retailers, eight medium stores and 12 smaller sized-locations suitable for restaurants, financial services, or smaller boutique stores.

PDG has developed and/or is constructing similar projects on First Nation lands in Duncan, Chilliwack and Kelowna.

"We've completed very extensive market research and analysis in the Tsawwassen area and have found this to be a very exciting opportunity for retail," sad PDG chairman Larry Rank via conference call.

Rank said the centre will bring services to the local community, so residents don't need to leave town to shop in other parts of the Lower Mainland.

"The residents of Delta are our primary expectation of where we expect to serve the customer base," he said.

At this point, Rank could not identify any potential tenants at the Commons project.

"There's a tremendous amount of interest and we have no shortage of tenants that are interested in negotiating with us and dealing with us," he said.

The Tsawwassen Mills project would be developed and operated by Ivanhoe Cambridge and modelled on similar marquee Mills projects the company developed in Alberta and Ontario. The mall would host 1.2 million square feet of retail space in an enclosed, single level format. It would include approximately 17 major retailers, more than 175 smaller retail shops, a food court, restaurants and retail kiosks—all designed around B.C. themes, including a "distinct Coast Salish component."

"It's a very different concept than a traditional shopping centre," said John Scott , vice-president, development at Ivanhoe Cambridge. What sets it apart from shopping centres in neighbouring municipalities is a tenant mix of outlet, value-priced and full-end retail stores, Scott explained.

"It is an enclosed centre but it has non-traditional anchor tenants. You won't see a large department store, for instance, as part of this," he said. "You mix that with entertainment components and restaurants and such and the end product is very different."

"People do travel from a greater distance, so the trade area is significantly larger than a typical shopping centre," he added. "When (shoppers) come to a Mills, they stay longer than in a traditional shopping centre."

A steady flow of ferry traffic will be "an added benefit."

These projects are expected to generate more traffic in the area and as such, a traffic study is now under review by TFN and the Ministry of Transportation to identify projected demand for infrastructure and improvements.

"We fully expect that there will be improvements required to Highway 17 and other municipal roads in the area," said Scott.

An environmental assessment and drainage study are also underway.

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