Tsawwassen Mills aims to coast on McArthurGlen mall's success

McArthurGlen Phase 2, Tsawwassen Mills likely landing spots for future outlet retailers

A blimp took this aerial shot of the under-construction Tsawwassen Mills in June | Ivanhoé Cambridge

Success at McArthurGlen’s Richmond mall has revealed local demand for outlet stores and fuelled speculation over which retailers will open similar off-price stores in Metro Vancouver.

Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom are widely rumoured to be opening outlet locations in the region. Outlet stores carry brands that are the same or similar to those carried by the parent retailer but at a substantial discount. 

Saks announced August 20 that its discount brand Saks Off 5th would open its first western Canadian location at Calgary’s CrossIron Mills mall in September 2016.

Nordstrom, in contrast, has yet to announce Canadian locations for its Nordstrom Rack outlet division. Retail analyst Craig Patterson told Business in Vancouver that he doesn’t expect to see any of those stores until at least 2017.

“Nordstrom is just taking it slow,” said Patterson, who owns Retail Insider Media Inc. “Opening Nordstrom Rack won’t depend on the success of the full Nordstrom stores because they find that shoppers who go to outlet centres are sometimes different from the full-price shopper. They create a wider market by opening both kinds of stores.”

About 24,000 square feet remains available to lease at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport mall on Sea Island, although that space is not contiguous. When the mall opened in mid-July, it broke company records by attracting 160,000 people  in its first four days. Tenants filled about 156,000 of the mall’s 240,000 square feet on opening day, and 12 more tenants have signed leases to open stores in another 60,000 square feet by the end of the year, said mall general manager Robert Thurlow .

McArthurGlen plans to open a second phase of the mall, with an additional 140,000 square feet, by 2017, but Thurlow said it’s too soon for lease discussions on that phase. Another likely location for an outlet store in Metro Vancouver is in Tsawwassen, where Ivanhoé Cambridge is building the 1.2-million-square-foot Tsawwassen Mills, which is slated to open in fall 2016.

Ivanhoé Cambridge wants to fill half of the mall with outlet tenants and half with regular stores.

Adjacent to Tsawwassen Mills will be a separate, 550,000-square-foot mall that Property Development Group (PDG) is developing in partnership with the Tsawwassen First Nation, which owns the land.

But outlet tenants are not wanted in that mall, named Tsawwassen Commons.

“We are absolutely not going to be an outlet mall,” PDG’s vice-president of leasing, Diane Pugh, told Business in Vancouver.

She has lined up anchor tenants such as Rona, Canadian Tire and Walmart, which combined have committed to take about 200,000 square feet when that mall opens at the same time as Tsawwassen Mills in fall 2016.

PetSmart, Mark’s Work Wearhouse and Dollarama are some of the smaller tenants that have signed leases to open in Tsawwassen Commons.

“Tsawwassen Mills will be the first new enclosed regional shopping centre built in the Lower Mainland in over a decade, and, at 1.2 million square feet, it will immediately become the fourth-largest shopping centre in B.C.,” said Jeff Brown, director of development at Tsawwassen Mills.

Bass Pro Shops is the only announced tenant at Tsawwassen Mills. Brown declined to say whether his mall is negotiating with either Saks or Nordstrom for outlet stores. But the mall’s composition is expected to be similar to that of other Ivanhoé Cambridge properties such as CrossIron Mills and Ontario’s Vaughan Mills, both of which will have Saks Off 5th outlet stores. •