New owner of Tsawwassen Mills looking to add entertainment offerings

May 24 2022, 10:15 pm

Adding and expanding immersive experiences to Tsawwassen Mills will be a priority for its new owners.

Last week, Daily Hive Urbanized reported the 1.2 million sq ft indoor outlet mall with 200 businesses was sold by Montreal-based real estate firm Ivanhoe Cambridge to BC-based Central Walk earlier in May.

In an email to Daily Hive Urbanized, Central Walk has indicated its short-term strategies for the property include focusing on establishing a “prominent entertainment presence,” along with further diversifying and strengthening food uses, retail, and services.

“We have built a well-rounded Leasing team and are excited for all the opportunities ahead,” states Central Walk chairman Hong Liu in a memo.

“Our Marketing Department will progressively innovate and attempt new ideas to increase both traffic and durations of stay. They will need time to plan and execute their many ideas, but please expect to see unique and exciting events in the time to come.”

Additionally, under Central Walk’s ownership, there will be increased maintenance on the property.

Other than these approaches, there will be no significant changes to Tsawwassen Mills’ operations, while the new owners plan for the long-term future of the 107-acre property, which is surrounded by 5,000 surface vehicle parking stalls.

“Retail will always be a core part of commercial real estate, but it demands innovation and progressive change at the end of every cycle. We are plotting our trajectory now by building or working with world-class teams to assess, research, and implement the latest in retail merchandise-mix and technology,” continued Hong.

“Retail faces the need for an imminent departure from shopping as a singular function, and instead becoming multi-function community hubs where people from all walks of life can find inclusion, representation, and engagement. We are very confident in the future of retail and look forward to the years ahead.”

tsawwassen mills mall aerial 1

Aerial of Tsawwassen Mills. (Associated Engineering & Associated Environmental)

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Bass Pro Shops at Tsawwassen Mills. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

Ivanhoe Cambridge completed and opened Tsawwassen Mills in 2016 at a cost of $600 million. The mall was built on land through a long-term lease with the Tsawwassen First Nation.

The mall carries the same concept as two of its other suburban outlet-style, looping indoor mall properties in Canada, specifically CrossIron Mills outside of Calgary and Vaughan Mills next to Wonderland near Toronto.

Ivanhoe Cambridge sold the property as part of their 2019-announced broad strategy of transitioning away from some of their retail and office properties to focus more on residential developments.

Other than retail, Tsawwassen Mills current immersive shopping features entail a 1,100-seat food court, an indoor skate park within the West49 store, and extensive theming at Bass Pro Shops.

Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill, an underwater-themed restaurant and bowling alley that is part of Bass Pro Shops, closed during the pandemic.

west 49 skatepark tsawwassen mill

The indoor skatepark at the West49 store at Tsawwassen Mills. (West49)

The now-closed bowling alley at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl & Grill at Tsawassen Mills. (Tsawwassen Mills)

A large vacant retail space was previously used for the popular Da Vinci Experience & His Incredible Machines exhibition, and last month an immersive outer space experience, called Stargazer: An Immersive Universe, curated by H.R. Macmillan Space Centre, opened.

In recent years, Central Walk also acquired two other major BC mall properties from Ivanhoe Cambridge — Mayfair Centre mall in Victoria, and Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo. It is eyeing mixed-use redevelopments of both Vancouver Island malls.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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