Along with a new anchor store Walmart opening soon, Haney Place Mall also has a new owner, effective Thursday.
Smart Real Estate Investment Trust bought the mall owned by Narland Properties, a Vancouver company.
“I think it shows a real confidence in the downtown. I think bringing in Walmart in there was a real game changer. We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of retailers SmartREIT can bring into the downtown mall,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read.
Walmart’s expected to open this fall after renovations.
The company said that buying the mall and opening Walmart in the former location of Target, “will help enhance the downtown retail environment.”
“Maple Ridge is a beautiful, dynamic community and we are delighted to invest in Haney Place Mall,” said Huw Thomas, president.
“We are focused on continuing to bring great shopping choices and experience to residents.”
SmartCentres had considered a land-swap deal with the City of Maple Ridge in order to develop a mall on Albion flats at 105th Avenue and Lougheed Highway.
However, it gave up on that option earlier this year.
Read said that council wants to talk later this year with SmartREIT about former related land holdings or interests in the Albion flats.
SmartREIT was formed in April when Calloway REIT bought SmartCentres and turned it into a real estate investment trust.
However, the Albion properties are still owned by original SmartCentres owner Mitchell Goldhar and Walmart Canada rather than the new SmartREIT.
Most of Albion flats is in the Agricultural Land Reserve which prevented development of the entire area, although the Agricultural Land Commission has said it’s willing to exclude land on the east side of 105th Avenue.
Council will discuss what kind of development ultimately will be most suitable for the Albion area but there’s no question that commercial is needed, Read added. But she doesn’t want a big anchor tenant. The retail market is changing, she added.
“I think it’s something we need to talk about.”
With the existing and future recreation facilities, “There’s a lot of potential in the flats for what that can be in the community, so that’s what we’ll be looking at.
“Exciting development,” Read said of the Haney Place Mall purchase. “It shows huge faith in our town centre, which is amazing.”
Ineke Boekhorst, with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association, also welcomed the sale.
“It sounds like it’s a good match.
“Haney Place Mall has been for sale for a long time.”
It’s exciting news for the downtown and hopefully the new owners will continue to modernize the mall, although the previous owners have recently upgraded the building, she added.
The Ontario-based trust owns SmartCentres, a development company that specialized in big-box malls. Now existing as a real estate trust owning SmartCentres, SmartREIT has a value of $8.3 billion, from malls mainly with Walmart as anchor stores.