January 30, 2015 - 7:33 PM
VERNON - Target isn’t the only vacancy in Vernon’s Village Green Centre.
If you walk around the shopping mall, you’ll see four vacant shop spaces. When Target closes, it will be five.
The City of Vernon’s economic development manager Kevin Poole has his eye on it, but says this is a time of year when the mall usually has more vacancies.
“The stores that are make or break in the Christmas seasons, if they didn’t make it they vacate in January,” Poole says. “Hopefully they fill up as we go through the year.”
It’s something the city is watching as the 103,000-square-foot Target space goes empty sometime in the next several months. While the development trend for shopping amenities has largely shifted from internal malls — like the Village Green Centre — to external strip malls, there’s still lots of value in the conventional shopping centre, Poole says.
“The internal structures you don’t see a lot of anymore. Most historic communities have one, like the Aberdeen Mall in Kamloops, Orchard Park Mall in Kelowna, and the Village Green Centre,” Poole says. “I still thing they’re strong centres, but you need strong anchors to make them work.”
Target was one of those anchors, and finding a new one is something the city will play a key role in.
“We’ve offered Bentall Kennedy anything we can to do help. If there’s an interested client we can help sell the community to them,” Poole says.
Poole met with the mall owner's representative at the recent International Council of Shopping Centres Conference in Whistler to discuss the vacant Target space.
“That’s a key priority for Bentall Kennedy and for us if we can help to find a utilizer for that space,” Poole says.
Having a vibrant mall is important for the city. For one, the Village Green Centre is one of the top contributors to Vernon’s tax base. It’s also essential to have ample shopping options for people looking to move to the city, Poole says.
He’s not overly concerned with the smaller vacancies in the Village Green Centre, but says for future businesses to do well, finding a new anchor like Target is vital.
“They help drive traffic to smaller stores inside the mall,” Poole says.
Target wasn’t the only anchor store Vernon lost in 2014. At the other end of town, Vernon lost Liquidation World, a popular store that increased traffic downtown. Poole points out those closures aren’t symptoms of a failing economy.
“It’s been a national decision to close the stores across the country, it’s got nothing to do with Vernon,” Poole says.
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