Resurrecting The Mall

<p>While Canada's enclosed shopping malls are aging, developers are finding new and profitable ways of redeveloping them.</p>
October 9, 2007, 12pm PDT | Michael Dudley
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"[N]ews of the enclosed shopping mall's death may have been premature, with some developers finding creative new ways to put them back in fashion.

In Canada, there are more than 1,000 community and regional shopping centres, which make up 60 per cent of the country's total shopping space. Many of them are now in a state far different from when they were cutting-edge facilities, taking Canada by storm in the 1950s.

[T]here's big money to be had in densely packed urban areas where real estate is scarce, incomes are rising and shoppers are many. And there's less competition for fixer-uppers in the mall business, as pension funds and other institutional players prefer to focus on high-quality investment.

But the redevelopment boom is also fraught with risks that don't come with the greenfield developments of new shopping centres. Disputes with local property owners, negotiations with existing tenants and logistical headaches – from parking to road access – help put the "grey" in greyfield redevelopments.

For the few sophisticated companies that can work city councils as well as a bulldozer, the rewards can be great.

Developers taking on mall renewals must be on top of retail trends and the constant change in consumer appetites...so this year's hot renewal can be the next decade's tired old mall – again, needing a facelift."

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Published on Saturday, October 6, 2007 in The Globe & Mail
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