Triovest Realty Advisors, the LloydMall landlord, is negotiating with a few prospective retailers to occupy the space vacated by the closing of Sears on Oct. 1. A lot of work needs to be done to reconfigure the interior of the store for new tenants. The initial plan calls for at least two retailers to share the 40,536 sq. ft. space. FILE PHOTO
Triovest Realty Advisors, the LloydMall landlord, considers the vacancy created by the departure of the Sears anchor store as an opportunity to regroup.
“The bad news is we lost Sears; the good news is we lost Sears,” said John Crombie, Triovest’s senior vice president of retail leasing Canada in a phone call from Toronto.
“It gives us a chance to reconfigure and kind of have a new vision of where LloydMall should go for the next 20 years.”
Crombie said the possibility of seeing just one department store like Sears occupy the approximately 40,536 sq. ft. of available retail space again is slim to none.
“Right now, we are in active negotiations with a number of potential prospects,” he said without revealing any names.
“The one thing we know is pretty much true is, we’re not going to lease it to one tenant, because there are not very many tenancies of that size in the marketplace.”
He said if a department store figures there is enough business in Lloyd, they would have probably set up here already.
Crombie said Triovest gets leasing inquiries about LloydMall every day, including non-traditional uses such as medically-related businesses and services that can provide conveniences for shoppers.
“It’s all about what’s the right retailer for the right mix to maximize the experience for the customers— that’s really where we’re going with this,” he said.
Crombie said Triovest was getting interest from a number of potential tenants about the Sears location at LloydMall long before the Canadian retailer said it would close 59 locations by October under court-supervised restructuring in June.
“We kind of anticipated the fact that Sears was having its difficulties,” he said, noting it was commonly known in the marketplace.
He said Triovest had a good sense that LloydMall may have been on the original list of potential closures, and had been reaching out and talking to a number of potential users.
Crombie said process was two fold.
“We were getting calls from retailers interested in coming to the area at LloydMall as well as us reaching out to the people that we thought would be a good candidate for the centre as well,” he said.
Sears Canada is seeking Ontario court approval this week to liquidate all of its remaining stores and assets.
Approval will trigger the start of liquidation sales at retail locations no earlier than Oct. 19, and continue for 10 to 14 weeks.
As for when Lloydminster will see new tenants in the vacant Sears location, Crombie said that’s the $100,000 question.
“Obviously, we couldn’t do anything when Sears was operating in that store, as much as we anticipated it,” he said.
Triovest has listed the space on its website as being available as early as January, 2018.
“The reality now in terms of likely splitting it down to smaller boxes is, there’s a lot of time and engineering that it takes to reconfigure, and that’s the process we’re in now,” said Crombie.
He said that process literally takes months to do and the designs get tweaked, because what retailers and landlords want can be quite different.
“The retailer wants to maximize the interior and exterior exposure, and we want to make sure there are proper exiting and proper shipping and receiving, and that it blends well into the rest of the centre,” he said.
“So it’s kind of a push pull.”
Additional shipping and receiving areas might also have to be established, or the plan could call for using the existing shipping and receiving set-up as a common area.
Crombie plans to be at the LloydMall soon on a regular tour, with the need to fill four other vacant suites with a total of about 7,107 sq ft. of retail space on his mind.
“We are always looking to fill,” he said.
He said the key is to find the right mix of tenants and not load up with one category with too many fast fashion or mid-tier fashion retailers or food outlets as examples.
“We are not just going to put a retailer in for the sake of putting a retail in; it’s not good for the overall blend and mix,” said Crombie.
“We are trying to make an experience type of location.”
Crombie attended the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Toronto last week and said retailers are astute about the various markets for their expansion plans.
He said they know if Lloyd is right for their market if there’s an opportunity for a specific amount of square footage at available suites.
“We try to sell them, but sometimes they sell themselves by the demographics and the income levels and the stability and opportunity within the mall itself,” he said.