Metro retail landscape to see changes

As published in the Times & Transcript

The next 12 months are expected to be a banner year for retail development in Metro Moncton.

Not only are Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s coming to town – both of which draw huge numbers on their own – but Princess Auto is moving to a bigger home on Mapleton Road, a new Home Hardware is coming to Elmwood Drive and a variety of smaller retail developments are expected to pop up in the region.

Kevin Silliker, Moncton’s director of economic development, said 2014 was “softer” than previous years in terms of building permit numbers. This year is looking better, he said.

“You’re always going to have ups and downs,” he said. “But in speaking to our other departments that also interface with builders and developments, and in talking to different groups, it would seem that 2015 is going to be a good year for building and development.”

The two big moves expected in 2015 are the opening of Cabela’s off Mapleton Road in a development known as Mapleton Crossing and the opening of Bass Pro Shops in the former Crystal Palace building in Dieppe.

Cabela’s will be the only such outlet east of Barrie, Ont., and north of New England. The hugely popular chain offers everything from hunting and fishing gear to lingerie and housewares. It is expected to open in late spring, not long after Princess Auto opens its new, larger store nearby.

Developers Cordova Realty have said Cabela’s and Princess Auto will use only about 40 per cent of the developable land at Mapleton Crossing, leaving room for many more tenants. Cordova is seeking other retail-oriented tenants, plus a restaurant.

Meanwhile, Bass Pro Shops is also opening its fourth Canadian store in Dieppe in 2015. Their stores are known for combining retail with entertainment, conservation and outdoor education with lots of free activities and seminars for entire families. They offer equipment and clothing for hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, hunting, camping, outdoor cooking, fishing and more.

Also on Mapleton, a new Sleep Country Canada store is under construction next to Moxie’s restaurant.

Silliker agreed that Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops are the big retail stories of 2015, but he said there are other things worth noting around the city, pointing specifically to the Harrisville Boulevard area, where a building supplies store and a hotel are already in business.

“There’s been lots of speculation about what could go there,” Silliker said, mentioning that big box retail or restaurants would be well served to consider the commercial area easily accessible by Moncton and Dieppe residents.

He also pointed to business opening up on Elmwood Drive at the Trans-Canada Highway. A new Home Hardware building centre will be erected on that site, and there are additional pads there for other retail or service businesses.

Silliker said there are rumblings that a new Atlantic Superstore will be opened in that area, but the grocery store chain could not comment on the matter on Monday afternoon.

The economic development director said downtown Moncton may see some movement as well this year.

The gaping hole where the Dewey Block once stood on Main Street was purchased by a group of Vietnam investors about a year ago, and Silliker said the city has been in early discussions with them about the future of that property.

He is also anticipating a possible change of ownership for the subway block where Graffiti restaurant was located for years.

Meanwhile, Dieppe city council will be asked to consider a rezoning application for a property that could accommodate a building of 58,000 square feet, with a large parking area beside it, on Dieppe Boulevard. A building of that magnitude would be similar in size to a large Metro Moncton grocery store.

The rezoning application will come before city council on Jan. 12 for a public hearing, but the project is already drawing the ire of residents who live nearby.

In Riverview, another strip mall is being constructed in Findlay Park. Managed by Adelin Properties of Dieppe, the company has confirmed that the first confirmed tenant for the property is a Pita Pit restaurant.