St. Albert Centre Target-ed

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Target coming to St. Albert, mall also changing hands

St. Albert’s flagship mall has a new owner and soon will feature a new store.

St. Albert Centre will be the site of one of Canada’s first Target stores sometime in 2012. The property is also in the process of changing hands from Montreal-based Ivanhoe Cambridge to Toronto-based Primaris Retail REIT. The sale is expected to be official June 22.

The company viewed St. Albert Centre as a dominant asset in the region with strong market share. Buying it is also a move to gain a presence in the Edmonton area, said president and CEO John Morrison.

“We’ve been waiting for a quality asset to become available,” he said.

His company has 29 properties. Prior to now, its only Alberta presence has been two locations in Calgary.

Morrison was pleased to hear this week’s announcement that Target Canada intends to make the St. Albert Zellers one of the first Targets in Canada.

“We’re excited about the fact that Target has chosen St. Albert to be part of its first wave of stores,” he said.

His company didn’t know that the Target decision was coming prior to Thursday when it went public, Morrison said.

Target, a popular retailing giant throughout the U.S., announced earlier this year that it was acquiring 220 Zellers stores. On Thursday the company released a list of 105 stores that will be renovated in time to open as Targets in 2013. The St. Albert Zellers is among five Edmonton-area stores on that list.

Each store will employ about 150 to 200 workers. Target will begin the store hiring process in 2012 and will “engage with Zellers associates to make it easy for them to apply for jobs at Target,” the company said in a press release.

“We are thrilled to share these first details about our planned entry into Canada,” said president Tony Fisher in a statement. “We are excited that these initial store sites ensure Target will be represented throughout the country.”

The purchase of St. Albert Centre is part of a five-property deal that includes three malls in Ontario and one in Montreal. The company will pay $572 million dollars for the five properties.

The plan is to continue to operate the mall in St. Albert, Morrison said.

He wouldn’t discuss whether renovations or other changes were in the mix because the sale hasn’t been finalized.

However, Morrison said he’s “bullish” on the future of enclosed malls, even in this era of the box stores and power centres.

“We’re firmly convinced that the enclosed mall is the best venue for shopping,” he said.

Power centres offer “laser shopping,” which involves driving to a specific store for a specific thing, he said. But with their strong focus on fashion, enclosed malls are the preferred option for those who want to park and shop at many stores, he said.

“Enclosed malls are still relevant,” he said.

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