It has been three years since our town announced with much fanfare that we are open for retail business at the new Gateway.
The Gateway is a 100-acre site off Legion Road in Kelligrews developed by the town and officially opened in early 2011. At the time a major tenant, Kent Building Supplies, came on board and has since opened for business.
Residents of Conception Bay South and environs are still waiting for the announcements from other major retailers that they are setting up shop in our town.
Former Mayor Woodrow French’s approach and that of his council who approved the almost $8-million expenditure to service the area, was “build it and they will come.”
When the park was announced, the town anticipated that it would recoup its investment in five years through the sale of the land and then from taxes paid by the park’s new businesses.
There were indications at the time that businesses were just waiting to get into the Gateway and it would be a matter of time before we could start shopping there.
Well, three years later our investment has still not paid off.
However, hope is on the horizon.
There is a new stadium being built with funding from the province and the town. Land prices have escalated and major retailers are still announcing expansion plans.
Mayor Ken McDonald also recently alluded to a possible future announcement of some major retailer.
He likely also got some residents excited a few weeks ago when, as a guest on local radio talk show, he referred to three big box retailers who he said residents are pinning their hopes on as the type of shopping they expect at the Gateway.
In addition to comments from elected officials that there is interest in the Gateway, there are always the rumours that a certain retailer is coming to the town.
We’ve been hearing those rumours for several years, so it will be nice to finally hear the real thing if McDonald has some news about a major retailer.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a major retailer such as a big box store. It could be franchised coffee or food store.
A town our size could do with another Tim Hortons, especially when smaller towns in Canada have more per capita.
The coffee chain recently announced plans to open 500 more stores in Canada in the next five years, so we could be in those plans.
And what about a new restaurant, similar to those that are popping up in other power retail centres in the region?
We definitely need a new supermarket. Remember the days when we had several supermarkets to chose from? Now we have only two major chains and we should have more choice in a town of 25,000. It would be great to see a Colemans or Powell’s supermarket establish a location here in C.B.S. and at the Gateway.
At least two of the major retailers that seem to be on the minds of everyone have expansion plans. Walmart plans to open 35 new supercentres in Canada this year, and Target has plans for nine new stores.
These are two of the retailers mentioned by the mayor as those on residents’ wish lists. We have only a short drive to get to those big box stores, and most we pass on our way to and from work.
Galway, formerly Glencrest, the new mega commercial-retail-residential development near Mount Pearl and right off the Trans-Canada Highway, is now competing with Gateway and may affect our ability to get those big box retailers.
We may have to settle for less.
Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.