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Edmonton City Centre mall, several downtown towers, sold

Several major downtown Edmonton properties sold
WATCH ABOVE: Oxford Properties has sold some of its major real-estate assets, including the Oxford and TD towers and Edmonton City Centre mall. What happens next? Here's Vinesh Pratap.

Oxford Properties has sold several mixed-use buildings that span three city blocks in downtown, including Edmonton City Centre, TD Tower, Oxford Tower and Centre Point Place.

An investment consortium, LaSalle Canada Property Fund, has purchased the assets, the company confirmed in a news release Wednesday.

“This has been actually a deal that’s been in the works for quite a few months,” said Craig Patterson, a director at the University of Alberta School of Retailing. “Oxford had the mixed-use, multi-block property on the market for quite a while. They did have trouble selling it. It’s a tough time.

“This isn’t really surprising.

“Given the current economic climate, as well as the current situation in downtown Edmonton, I think that this was certainly a challenge to sell the property.

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“But it’s great. The office towers, I think, are almost completely full but the retail struggles.”

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READ MORE: Edmonton’s City Centre mall investing in multi-million dollar upgrades

The office component — including TD Tower, Oxford Tower and Centre Point Place — combined with space available for retail lease, represent nearly 1.4 million square feet of space. There are four parking areas on the site, with a total of 2,500 stalls.

“We are pleased to complete this transaction with our partners, as it represents a rare opportunity to own a landmark mixed-use asset with a strong tenant roster in the heart of Edmonton’s downtown core,” said John McKinlay, CEO of LaSalle Canada.

READ MORE: 12 floors of Stantec Tower planned for condos to be converted into hotel

In its news release about the purchase, the LaSalle highlighted the nearby arena/concert venue and pointed out that Edmonton’s downtown residential population has grown in the last 10 years and is expected to reach 18,000 residents by 2020.

“We see tremendous potential in the ECC acquisition given the growth momentum of the adjacent Ice District, light rail transit connections that are supporting continued urban gentrification and population growth,” LaSalle Canada’s senior vice president, Michael Cornelissen, added.

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READ MORE: Enbridge consolidating at two downtown Edmonton office towers 

Global News was told the purchase price will not be released.

LaSalle Canada Property Fund has bought a section of property spanning three blocks of downtown Edmonton, including the City Centre mall, Oxford and TD towers. Nov. 13, 2019.
LaSalle Canada Property Fund has bought a section of property spanning three blocks of downtown Edmonton, including the City Centre mall, Oxford and TD towers. Nov. 13, 2019. Courtesy: LaSalle Canada

“The Ice District is really shifting the perception of the downtown core northward,” Patterson said. “And, as a result, Edmonton City Centre — it looks a little bit dated. It’s a very, very large property, spanning two full blocks of retail.

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“I’ve heard some rumblings already that the current Hudson’s Bay department store located at Edmonton City Centre — it used to be an Eaton’s at one time — that there would a possibility that they’d look to demolish that and put a residential tower, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this new development did that.”

READ MORE: Part of Edmonton’s Stantec Tower sold to German company

The mall underwent a $41.3-million upgrade between 2015 and 2017.

“Those landlords are going to look at what opportunities they would have to make money off this property,” Patterson said.

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“Ultimately, that’s the goal of any real estate company. I would never want people to worry about anything, but I do think there are going to be some challenging times for downtown Edmonton, primarily in the higher-end.

“Losing Holt Renfrew is a challenge, Henry Singer is there, we don’t know what BLU’S is going to be doing. We saw Birks leave last year, Escada exited Manulife Place. Those were two major blows to that shopping centre.”

READ MORE: Holt Renfrew closing Edmonton store in 2020 to focus on bigger locations

The mall underwent a $41.3-million upgrade between 2015 and 2017.

“Look at the full parking lots at suburban shopping centres,” Patterson said. “For sure, West Edmonton Mall has had an effect on downtown Edmonton. Kingsway is very close to downtown Edmonton and it has free parking. Southgate Centre is an extremely strong shopping centre property. It’s the fifth-most productive shopping centre in Canada in terms of sales per square foot.

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“Edmonton is a place where almost everyone owns a car, it’s just the lifestyle in Edmonton; it’s not like Vancouver or Toronto.

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“So suburban shopping centres, Costco stores, Walmart super centres, Superstore — those are all the types of places people in Edmonton will shop at.

“Whyte Avenue has remained as it is: a draw, with clubs and some retail as well, which has struggled to some degree. I think the future of downtown Edmonton is going to be a little more like Houston, where there’s stuff happening there, lots of office buildings, more people moving downtown, which is exciting. You’ve got the Ice District, it’s becoming a bit of a cultural district, but it’s going to be up to Edmontonians to embrace the downtown core and make it a place they want to be.”

This deal comes on the heels of Stantec Tower being sold to a German consortium.