Not boxed in: Stavanger Drive area will survive without Costco, says developer

Costco may be leaving the east end of St. John's, but the real estate company that oversees its current location says the area will still continue to draw customers.

Justin Ladha of KMK Capital says remaining Stavanger Drive stores have 'great opportunity' with Costco move

Justin Ladha, seen here during an interview on the St. John's Morning Show, is vice president of KMK Capital Inc., which oversees the Stavanger Drive and Hebron Way commercial power centre. (CBC)

Costco may be packing up and leaving the east end of St. John's for the new Galway development, but the real estate company that oversees its current location says the area will continue to draw shoppers.

The retail giant confirmed in January that it was going ahead with the move, after being one of the main draws in the Stavanger Drive box store area since it opened in 1995.

Costco announced earlier this year it plans to leave the Stavanger Drive area for the new Galway development. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Being one of the most successful Costco stores in the world, the move could mean fewer customers moving through Stavanger Drive.

But Justin Ladha of KMK Capital – the development company that runs Stavanger Drive and the new Hebron Way extension – says it could be opportunities for stores in the area that actually competed with Costco.

"Nobody wants Costco to move," Ladha told the St. John's Morning Show. "But the Stavanger Drive area has been tremendously successful over the years. It is one of the largest power centres in Atlantic Canada and will remain so with or without Costco."

Power centre

Ladha describes a power centre as an area with big box stores, where people typically drive instead of a mall that people walk to. Stavanger Drive, Kelsey Drive and Merchant Drive are all examples of power centres in the metro region.

The Stavanger Drive power centre opened in 1995 and is province's biggest box store area.

While he acknowledges losing Costco could mean fewer shoppers around Stavanger Drive, he said the stores remaining there actually have an opportunity if Costco sells the same products as them.

Earlier this week, a new Marshall's department store opened in the old Futureshop location on Stavanger Drive, which Ladha said shows that nobody is eulogizing the area just yet.

"These decisions with big box stores are not made overnight. There's been rumblings in the industry for well over a year – probably over two years – that Costco is looking at its options," he said.

"Yet they still made the decision to come to Stavanger Drive, because that's where they feel they can do the best."