Smaller cities growing in retail

By Scott Larson, The StarPhoenix October 19, 2013 - We all know Saskatoon and Regina have been booming for the last few years, but smaller cities are also getting in on the action, says Alvaro Campos, market research analyst with ICR Commercial Real Estate.

ICR has just released its first-ever Small Market Outlook report that looks at the commercial retail market in nine smaller centres - Prince Albert, Yorkton, North Battleford, Swift Current, Lloydminster, Moose Jaw, Estevan, Martensville and Warman.

"When you think about Saskatchewan, you really only think of Saskatoon and Regina," Campos said. "But there is all of these little markets out there that are actually doing quite well and expanding."

Most of the retail vacancies in the smaller markets are in the four to six per cent range, except for Warman, Martensville and Yorkton which are closer to 10 per cent.

"But that is a little deceiving," he said. "There is interest fuelling those three markets for expansion so new developments are being constructed.

"Give them six to 10 months and (those three places) will be down to about six per cent or lower."

Campos said newer national tenants that have gone into Saskatoon and Regina are now moving into smaller centres.

"When you look at a restaurant like Original Joe's, they have opened up in Moose Jaw. Brown's Social House opened in Saskatoon this year and will soon open up in Yorkton."

ICR Report Highlights

Martensville - Martensville has increased the inventory of commercial lands and lease space in the community for business ventures. Proposed or currently under construction projects include a Wellness Center (8,000 square feet), Black Iron Crossing, 721 Centennial Drive (8,000 square feet).

Warman - The newest development in the city is The Legends Plaza shopping complex. Co-op is currently constructing a 25,000 square foot store on the site that is expected to open in the summer of 2014.

Prince Albert - Recent construction of retail developments have been met with high demand as many of the new development areas are completely leased. As the city continues to grow, it is anticipated expansion of the retail sector will continue.

Moose Jaw - Moose Jaw's boom is being driven by several multibillion dollar mega projects in the area, including the $3.25-billion K+S Potash Canada greenfield mine. There are also plans for a new $100.9 million hospital for the city which is nearing the construction phase. A new $27 million shopping Civic Centre Plaza is under construction.

Lloydminster - The local economy is driven primarily by the petroleum industry. Agriculture remains an important economic activity, although many farmers in the area are sustained financially by lease payments resulting from oil wells drilled on their land. Retail trade is strong in the city as Lloydminster serves as a regional trading hub due to its location between Saskatoon and Edmonton.

Yorkton - Yorkton is the third largest trading area in Saskatchewan and is a vibrant economic centre for the east central Saskatchewan region. Recent developments include the York Station which will consist of various phases totalling 100,000 square feet of retail space with anchor tenants such as Dollarama, Brown's Social House and Dad's Organic Market. Harvard Developments Inc. has recently prepared a 10 acre commercial development site called Broadway Corners by Parkland Mall in northeast Yorkton. The first phase of this project includes a Days Inn Hotel currently under construction.

North Battleford - The southeast commercial district has an established retail commercial area that include Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire and Staples. Its north commercial district is anchored by both the Co-op and Sobey's grocery stores and is located adjacent to residential neighbourhoods.

Swift Current - Development is expected to continue as investment has taken place in the commercial downtown core in efforts to revitalize the city's main area. Many new and existing businesses have developed along the highway commercial district, which allows them to take advantage of the high volume of traffic travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway.

Estevan - Estevan has an expanding mix of national and international companies working side by side with owner operated retail outlets and home based businesses. The multitude of outlets provides an ever changing retail experience for locals and visitors on a daily basis for some and a quick shop for others.

The nature of the retail market in Estevan is growing stronger and becoming more dynamic as the city's economic development initiatives support the development of new retail projects.

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