Big changes com­ing to Pen Cen­tre in 2019

New ten­ants to be an­nounced in com­ing months

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Front Page - KARENA WAL­TER

The Pen Cen­tre is carv­ing its for­mer Sears depart­ment store into smaller re­tail spa­ces — a move that will bring big changes to the mall in ad­di­tion to a new Wal­mart cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion.

“One of our key suc­cesses has re­ally been al­ways evolv­ing and bring­ing the lat­est and great­est re­tail con­cepts to Ni­a­gara,” said John Bra­gag­nolo, man­ager of the Pen Cen­tre in St. Catharines, which is cel­e­brat­ing its 60th an­niver­sary this year.

“I think this is just an­other evo­lu­tion of that vi­sion that we have.”

The for­mer Sears space is cur­rently un­der­go­ing about $3 mil­lion of as­bestos abate­ment work in an­tic­i­pa­tion of mas­sive re­de­vel­op­ment.

Sears closed its doors in Jan­uary af­ter the com­pany liq­ui­dated all stores across Canada. The three-level space had been a fix­ture at the Pen Cen­tre since open­ing as Simp­son-Sears in 1966.

The as­bestos re­moval is ex­pected to be com­pleted early in the new year and the space will then be di­vided into five or six big­ger­sized ten­ants.

The two Sears in­te­rior mall en­trances will be con­nected to be­come a mall hall­way with stores lin­ing it. Lay­outs still have to be fi­nal­ized but it’s an­tic­i­pated some stores will be on an up­per level and some on the main level with es­ca­la­tors or el­e­va­tors.

The ex­te­rior of the Sears build­ing will also be up­dated.

Bra­gag­nolo said the mall won’t be an­nounc­ing the ten­ants for an­other three or four months but some may be new to the re­gion and oth­ers al­ready in the area. The re­de­vel­op­ment in the Sears space will open in late 2019 to early 2020.

Mean­while, Wal­mart con­tin­ues its con­struc­tion work on the east side of the mall, in and around the for­mer Tar­get store, that in­cludes a mas­sive ad­di­tion to cre­ate a 110,000 square-foot store on one level.

The re­tail gi­ant an­nounced in May 2015 that it was pur­chas­ing the for­mer Tar­get store at the

Pen Cen­tre, which closed ear­lier that year af­ter Tar­get Canada liq­ui­dated all of its stores.

Wal­mart is adding onto the Tar­get by ex­pand­ing east into the park­ing lot and south into the

Pen Cen­tre in space that used to oc­cupy sev­eral smaller stores fac­ing onto the Sears court. The mall en­trance clos­est to the Sears court will be­come an en­trance

into Wal­mart.

The base­ment that served as an ad­di­tional floor for Tar­get, and be­fore that Zellers, will be aban­doned for now.

The park­ing lot out­side of the Tar­get where shop­pers used to have to walk up­hill will be raised.

Bra­gag­nolo said Wal­mart is par­tic­u­lar about the grade of park­ing lot com­ing out of their stores and wants to en­sure it’s not too steep. Man­holes that are vis­i­bly stick­ing six or seven feet out of the ground cur­rently are at the new grade.

“It’s a fairly ma­jor con­struc­tion project and ev­ery­thing is go­ing very well,” Bra­gag­nolo said. “The con­struc­tion’s go­ing ex­tremely well, but there’s a lot to do. Their tar­get open­ing is June of next year.”

De­spite con­struc­tion block­ing ac­cess to park­ing spa­ces on the east side of the mall, Bra­gag­nolo said it shouldn’t have too much im­pact on Christ­mas shop­pers. He said there should be enough resid­ual spa­ces given that the Sears and Tar­get are closed.

“We have 4,700 park­ing spa­ces at our dis­posal usu­ally. Ob­vi­ously with the con­struc­tion that’s go­ing down it’s go­ing to have some im­pact this year, the old adage, some short-term pain for long-term gain is def­i­nitely go­ing to be in the fray,” he said.

“We’ll try and man­age our park­ing as best as we can, but we don’t think it will be that big of an is­sue.”

BOB TYMCZYSZYN THE ST. CATHARINES STAN­DARD

Con­struc­tion at the Pen Cen­tre where the Sears store was lo­cated and the site of the new Wal­mart.

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