Riel shopping centre still in the works

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Developer works to land tenants months after zoning change

A parcel of land in Riel Business Park earmarked for a shopping centre continues to sit vacant after nearly nine months of consultations.

Council approved two bylaws last September to redistrict the land from business park to regional commercial to allow the development of a shopping centre.

Bruno Mastroprimiano, president of Royal West Property Corporation, said the company is still moving forward with the project but added it could take some time.

“We’ve been dealing with a large user which may occupy the whole parcel but nothing has been finalized yet,” he said. “It’s been negotiated for some time, but nothing really solid yet.”

The section of land is located directly south of the Enjoy Centre and is bordered by Ray Gibbon Drive, Riel Drive and LeClair Way.

“It’s a great location,” Mastroprimiano said. “It’s a good connection to the Anthony Henday and to St. Albert, so we’re developing in high-traffic locations so for commercial purpose, it’s very, very good.”

Royal West Property Corp. purchased the 5.5-hectare plot at 151 Riel Dr. for nearly $4.5 million in late 2010.

A consultant for the company told council in September that the intention was to develop a “food-floor anchored shopping centre,” which is a major grocery store surrounded by a variety of other retail businesses.

Mastroprimiano wouldn’t confirm if this is the direction the company still wishes to go and refused to disclose potential tenants, adding it is confidential until plans are finalized.

“That’s still in the wings,” he said. “It could be a large grocery store, but we also have another major user which possibly could be behind them too.”

He said there is no goal on when development could begin, adding it is dependent on the client chosen.

“It may take some time yet before you can see some dirt being moved,” he said.

Ivan Mayer, president of the Riel Business Park Association, said he is in favour of bringing new business into the park.

“We can’t be choosy in situations like the city of St. Albert is in right now,” he said. “We’re lacking new businesses, we’re lacking residential, our housing starts are down, so any potential for commercial centres for shopping would be great.”

He said the land is in a prime location for a shopping centre or grocery store, due to its close proximity to Heritage Lakes coupled with nearby expansion.

Mayer said he has two concerns with the development: affordability and traffic flow.

“My concern is the cost of land, whether that’s going to translate into a doable deal,” he said, adding the price might be too much for incoming business to stay afloat. “I own several pieces of property in the park and if the price isn’t right, you’re going to have a problem.”

He said regardless of the development, something must be done to address increased traffic flow in the area, adding the opening of the Ray Gibbon Drive connector to Villeneuve Road will add further congestion.

A traffic impact assessment completed in 2007 found an additional 388 auto trips would be made in evening peak hours and stated no site access will be permitted from Ray Gibbon Drive.

Once a tenant is chosen, the company must submit a development plan to the city. There is no timeline for when this could occur.

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