New food store kickstarts renos to Haney Place Mall

Haney Place Mall will undergo renovations with the addition of Thrifty Foods, according to owner Narland Properties. - THE NEWS/files
Haney Place Mall will undergo renovations with the addition of Thrifty Foods, according to owner Narland Properties.
— image credit: THE NEWS/files

The district’s dream for a vibrant downtown got a step closer after word Monday that Thrifty Foods is opening a 35,000-square-foot store in Haney Place Mall, early next year.
The Vancouver Island-based chain will move into the east end of the mall, formerly a Safeway, now occupied by Haney Marketplace and Antique Mall. Renovations for that store will follow a general redo of the mall’s exterior, although there are no costs or designs.
“We don’t even know what it looks like yet,” said Chris Sherry, spokesman for Narland Property, of Vancouver, which owns the mall.
While the mall’s east end will change, its west end occupied by Zellers could also see a new name. Target Corp. of Minneapolis, Minn., bought 220 Zellers stores in Canada last month. It plans on renovating up to 150 of those stores, but hasn’t decided which ones. Its first store isn’t set to open until 2013.
Sherry referred to his earlier comments that getting another anchor tenant was key to renovating Haney Place Mall on 226th Street.
The company plans “significant upgrades” to the mall’s exterior, entrances, and parking area before the store opens.
Thrifty’s is “an integral piece in the revitalization of the town centre and will become an anchor in the community,” Sherry said in a news release.
“As a community-focused retailer, Thrifty Foods complements our existing tenant base and their presence in the town centre is guaranteed to transform the area.”
Council’s policies on the downtown also weighed into the decision, he said Monday.
“It seems to me they’re absolutely committed to the downtown.
He cited the district’s downtown incentives for developers and its purchase of 3.5 acres across from the mall as two examples. The district recently bought the property on Selkirk Avenue and 227th Street, which has several run-down homes, in order to clean it up, with the hope of attracting a high-rise developer as a new buyer.
Those are believable, tangible steps, Sherry added.
“If anything, it really speaks to the commitment of council to the downtown.”
These incentives, plus a focus on residential densification in the town centre, are factors in re-investing in the mall, he said in the release.
Narland Properties, though, may not be finished.
Weeks ago it bought the car wash and adjoining empty lot on Lougheed Highway at 226th Street, with plans to clear the latter and provide a better view on to the mall.
It could have its eye on other lots, though not on the old Westminster Savings Credit Union building. An offer for that from another company is pending.
“We’re doing what we can to assemble lands as they become available,” Sherry said.
So far, the company has 12 acres in the downtown. “It just makes sense to try to assemble it, doesn’t it?”
However, the company isn’t considering, at this point, switching to residential development. “It’s not something we’re contemplating today.”
The Haney Place Mall announcement comes as council is about to send a plan for comment to the Agricultural Land Commission for development of virtually all the usable space in Albion flats, allowing for a future potential of 1.8 million square feet of commercial industrial space.
But that’s been discussed for years, Sherry pointed out.
“I’m interested to know how they see that developing one day.”
Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said Narland should finish its reno work on Haney Place Mall by late fall, hand the building over to Thrifty so it can get ready for opening in early 2012.
The deal shows that the private sector is buying into the downtown. “It speaks to … three to four councils’ commitment to the downtown,” Daykin said. “It’s obviously a shot in the arm to the mall.”
Erin Kelly, with Thrifty Foods, said there’s no definite date for the store’s opening.
“It just depends on how the renovations go for the mall.”
She’s not worried about the possible opening of a Target store because Thrifty focuses on fresh food.
“It’s our eighth store in the Lower Mainland and we’re looking to expand and it’s the perfect location for us.”
The chain, part of Sobeys Inc., has more than 1,300 stores across Canada, is also opening a new store in the Sapperton area of New Westminster this year.
“Today’s announcement represents the eighth location on the Lower Mainland and the 28th in BC since 1977,” said Thrifty’s president Jim Dores.
Haney Place Mall, which opened in 1978, is about 200,000 sq. feet.

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