Tsawwassen projects will be game-changer

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By Pat Grubb

It was entirely appropriate that Delta Chamber of Commerce executive director Ian Tait began his talk about upcoming Tsawwassen development by thanking First Nations for allowing the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce annual meeting to take place on their historical lands. The discussion was mainly on the Tsawwassen Mills retail development, which is being built on Tsawwassen First Nation lands at Highway 17 and 52nd Street.

The 1.2 million square foot destination shopping center is being developed by Tsawwassen-CommonsIvanhoé Cambridge, one of Canada’s largest real estate developers, and will have 16 anchor stores including Bass Pro Shops, 6,000 parking spots, premium fashion stores, factory outlets, restaurants and a 1,200-seat food court.

In short, it’s humongous.

That’s not all. Going up right next to it is Tsawwassen Commons, a 550,000 square foot development that already has Walmart, Rona, Canadian Tire, Tim Hortons, Petsmart, Starbucks and more signed up. Tsawwassen Commons developers estimate a daily traffic count of 52,847 vehicles. While no employment count is available, 1,200 parking stalls will accommodate the traffic expected.

Further down the line, expect to see a 137-acre residential component with 296 condos, 194 houses and an 18-hole golf course. Up to 2,290 residential units within two minutes of the development will eventually be constructed.

Want more? Plans are underway for a 300-acre industrial park with 4 million square feet of light manufacturing, goods handling, warehousing and distribution services. Still not enough? Tsawwassen First Nation members will vote December 16 on a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in partnership with FortisBC on their lands. The facility would be supplied by an extension from the company’s Tilbury Island LNG facility currently undergoing a $400 million (Cdn) expansion. The proposal projects marine traffic of up to six tankers per month, which would be moored at Roberts Bank.

Tait spoke about the impact the retail developments would have on existing Tsawwassen-Millsbusinesses in Tsawwassen and Ladner. “As my Australian friends say, they’ll have to lift their gyme,” Tait said. The Corporation of Delta initiated a study in October 2014 called the South Delta Sustainability Strategy to help existing businesses survive the onslaught of the massive retail developments.

One rationale behind the study was the realization that small business owners are so involved in day-to-day operations, it’s difficult for them to think about the future. After extensive research, the study came up with 58 recommendations for government and business owners that would help ensure both Ladner and Tsawwassen retained a healthy and vibrant downtown. (The report may be seen online at bit.ly/1NDOYWT.)

Following Tait’s presentation, Tsawwassen Mills general manager Mark Fenwick described the project for the full house in attendance at the Pier Restaurant. “It’s a real destination place where people will come to spend a half day or all day,” he said. According to Fenwick, the Mills concept involves premium brands, outlet retailers and multiple dining options. The company will be investing $600 million overall with $70 million alone being spent on road improvements.

The mall will contain five “neighborhoods,” with separate entrances. A Coast Salish component with two salmon made of colored glass will rise from a pool at the entrance. In total, there will be 200 stores. The grand opening is scheduled for October 6, 2016.

No theaters are planned although Fenwick did mention that theaters were later added to other Mills projects. Asked what retailers would be tenants, Fenwick was circumspect but said people could get a good idea of possible tenants by seeing which stores were at other Mills malls.

CrossIron Mills, built in 2009 and located north of Calgary, has 200 stores, 100 of which are outlets. Tenants include Hugo Boss, Adidas, Banana Republic Factory Store, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Calvin Klein, Coach Factory, ECCO, Foot Locker, Godiva, KFC, Levi’s Outlet, Purdy’s and so on through the alphabet.

Fenwick described various small business opportunities that would be available such as SMUs (small merchandising unit), mobile carts that can be placed throughout the mall. These will be available for periods of a week or longer.

Up to 4,500 jobs are expected to be created during the peak construction period. The mall itself will provide approximately 3,000 full- and part-time jobs once it’s open; hopefully, most of these workers will take the bus or carpool rather than occupy one of the 6,000 parking spots.

Those interested in retail employment can get an idea of what will be available by looking at the jobs section on the CrossIron Mills website. ECCO, for example, is looking for a part-time brand ambassador for the Christmas season.

“Success awaits you if you have demonstrated world class customer service and you love working with a team towards a common goal … If those things describe you perfectly, then [ECCO] wants to meet you,” says their ad.

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