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Sears building owner looking at dividing up retail space

The owner of the former Sears building in Grande Prairie is changing how it plans to market the empty space. Vice President of Northern Alberta Leasing for Artis REIT Randy Mudryk says they are following in the Prairie Mall’s footsteps.

“We are marketing the space for lease and will look to demise the space for multi-tenancies.”

The mall made the same decision after Target shuttered all of its locations in Canada in 2015. The space sat empty for two years before management decided to split it up into multiple retail locations.

The owners of the Freson Bros. southside location are also facing the same issue after the grocery store decided not to renew its lease. Prairie Mall General Manager Lionel Frey says when a large retailer leaves a location the biggest question becomes whether to look for another large store or divide it up into smaller ones.

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“From a financial standpoint, it’s better to divide it up because then you have a number of retailers to draw from [and] you have a lot more diversity. That was the direction we decided to take when the Target closed in April 2015.”

The former Target space sat empty for two years, while other retailers like Walmart and Canadian Tire picked up other locations across the country. Once the Prairie Mall decided to divide up the 112,000 square foot space, Urban Planet and Marshalls signed on and renovations made room for at least 12 different retailers.

Frey thinks Artis REIT is making the right decision by doing the same thing.

“I think the era of the larger retailers is kind of fading away. We see that with other large retailers in the US as well; they’re struggling… it’s better to divide into smaller units and just create more diversity.”

A timeline has not been set yet for when renovations may start on the Sears location.

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