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New Moncton store eyes the finish line

As published in the Times & Transcript

November 7, 2014

Work continues at the new Mapleton Crossing project. PHOTO RON WARD/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

It’s a question that real estate developer Jeff McManaman often receives but doesn’t tire of hearing: “When is the new Princess Auto and Cabela’s going to open?”

The answer can now be known: Princess Auto aims to open its new and much larger Moncton premises in March, followed later in the spring by the first Cabela’s Canada outlet in Eastern Canada.

Both are under construction now at the new Mapleton Crossing retail development.

The development is located strategically at the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Mapleton Road, so that shoppers will see it first when they drive into Moncton for a shopping trip, and perhaps just as importantly, they’ll also be able to make it their last shopping stop on their way home.

“Cabela Court is now finished, has been finished and has been conveyed to the City of Moncton,” the CEO of Cordova Realty says.

The special outdoor lighting that counters light pollution is going up, the street signs have been erected, traffic lights await the day the new retail development opens for business, the landscaping is well underway and will be finished in the spring and a new access has been built into neighbouring Mapleton Park and handed over to the city.

Most of the project is ahead of schedule, McManaman says.

It’s been an ambitious dream that is expected to generate about $40 million in construction spending alone by the time it’s done. To put that into perspective, that’s almost half the cost of Moncton’s proposed new downtown entertainment centre.

And the two main tenants are using about 40 per cent of developable land, leaving room for much more to come. Potential new tenants for the remainder of the property are hammering out the details with Cordova right now, but no one is saying anything until everyone has signed on their respective dotted lines.

Cordova is seeking other retail-oriented tenants, plus a restaurant.

To gauge the scope of this project, Cordova points out that so far the project has created dozens of high-paying jobs. The Princess Auto project alone required seven consultants who employed more than 28 people, and 29 different trades worked on the building and surrounding property, using 120 more employees.

Building Cabela Court, the main street leading into the project (almost all Cabela’s outlets in North America have their street named after them) required six consultants employing more than two dozen people, and almost 100 workers from four different trades. Building the store itself required hiring nine consultants and their three dozen employees, who brought in 33 trades with another 160 workers or so.

A nearby stream that was cluttered, dirty and almost devoid of life was moved to the tune of about $1 million and enhanced as a fish habitat. That stream is now home to brook trout that can be readily seen in their improved home waters at certain times of the year.

While it is not yet known how many people will work in the two stores, they will certainly number in the hundreds while the property taxes from the development will reach into the millions.

“It’s quite shocking,” McManaman says of those striking figures.

Cordova spent more than $12 million on construction so far and expects to break ground in the spring for a third retailer to be announced in the new year.

Princess Auto has established a beachhead in most major Maritime cities, attesting to the retailer’s popularity. It is a destination for buying everything from tools to household gadgets to electronics.

Cabela’s will be the only such outlet east of Barrie, Ont., and north of New England. Those not familiar with the chain have trouble grasping how Cabela’s is more than a hunting and fishing store, with goods ranging from lingerie to housewares, including items you won’t find elsewhere and of course every manner of outdoors gear one can imagine. It’s estimated that thousands of Atlantic Canadians, eastern Quebecers and northern Maine residents travel to Cabela’s southern Maine store every year, and now almost all of those shoppers will choose Moncton because it’s much closer. When their Barrie store opened earlier this year, customers camped out in the parking lot days in advance of the doors, and in fact the Moncton store already has posts erected with power outlets at their dedicated RV-parking areas, for overnighters which are common at the store.

The Barrie store broke all records for the number of people who showed up for a Cabela’s grand opening, the massive parking lot full to overflowing with people, the lineup spilling down the street.

“Moncton will break that record,” McManaman says.

“Just watch.”