Big changes coming to Pen Centre in 2019
New tenants to be announced in coming months
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
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.”
Construction at the Pen Centre where the Sears store was located and the site of the new Walmart.