Grand Falls-Windsor -
The president of the Econo-Malls Management Corporation says the name of a major new retail development project in Grand Falls-Windsor is only a tentative one - the "Queensway Shopping Centre" - but whatever it's called in the end means jobs, consumer interest and a hefty economic boost for the central region.
Robert Wiseman was in Grand Falls-Windsor Monday to unveil the concept drawing of the complex, situated in the Queensway Industrial Park.
The company had been leasing 35 acres of land for years from the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor with an intent to attract businesses there. Now Econo-Malls has bought the property outright for a sum that neither Wiseman nor Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins would specify, only to say the amount was seven figures.
"The idea behind the project is to address an essential need in the Grand Falls-Windsor area for additional retail," said Wiseman. "We are the owners of the Exploits Valley Mall and we have a very large demand for space. Our mall is essentially full right now and we have about 10,000 feet more in offers for existing space than we have space available."
He added the shopping centre project has been a long time in coming.
The company has been working with the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor for many years, starting as far back as the days when Walwin Blackmore was the town's mayor. The concept drawing of the development depicts an area of approximately 175,000 square feet - the current size of the Exploits Valley Mall - and would be anchored by a large mass merchandiser and between 10 and 12 smaller stores in the 2,000-5,000 square foot range. An extensive marketing campaign for the centre was scheduled to start today and Econo-Mall's first big launch will happen at the Montreal shopping centre convention in June.
To attract business to the centre, Wiseman explained the key is getting a major retailer first; smaller businesses tend to tie themselves to that retailer.
"We have several (retailers) that we're working with right now," he said.
"There was absolutely a depressed retail situation here, meaning there was a lot more demand than there is product. We are actively pursuing people in food, furniture, home and hardware, and in office supplies as well as mass marketing."
While the biggest retailer in the Exploits Valley is currently Wal-Mart, the major retailer for the Queensway centre may well be a different business.
However, Wiseman emphasized the new centre will attract many consumers to the Grand Falls-Windsor region, create jobs for the contractors needed to build the structures at the site and at the businesses that will need employees.