British Columbia

Quirky 'Tinseltown' up for sale in downtown Vancouver

The somewhat-empty International Village Mall is being advertised as a "repositioning opportunity" for whoever buys it. Last year, the property was valued at over $45M.

Somewhat-empty $45M International Village Mall advertised as a 'repositioning opportunity' for whoever buys it

International Village Mall, a.k.a. Tinseltown, is up for sale. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

A central and quirky fixture of downtown Vancouver is up for sale.

International Village Mall, previously known as Tinseltown, has been listed as part of a three property package that includes Paris Square across the street, home of a busy T & T Supermarket.

The third property in the bundle —Henderson Place Mall — is in Coquitlam.

The asking price is not listed, but last year B.C Assessment pegged the value of International Village Mall alone at $45.635 million.

15 of the mall's 60 retail outlets are currently listed for lease. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

The sales sheet describes the mall as "attractive and well-built ... marking the crossroads of downtown Vancouver's Central Business District, Stadium District and Chinatown."

'Under-utilized in its current form'

But it also pointedly calls the property a "repositioning opportunity."

"International Village's vast retail space and superb location is remarkably under-utilized in its current form. Investors are offered the opportunity to dramatically increase International Village's visitation and revenue by implementing a new space planning and tenant positioning strategy."

Some of the International Village shops, clockwise from top left: One Stop Shop Cards & Games, Touch of Africa, Fancy Gifts, Vikings and Dragons. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

The mall opened in 1999 on the edge of the Downtown Eastside amid much hubbub over whether it was revitalizing or gentrifying the neighbourhood. 

Duelling vibes

Originally planned as a luxury shopping destination, Tinseltown failed to attract a critical mass of retailers and shoppers from the moment its doors opened, leaving the new complex with duelling vibes of affluence and decline that persist to this day

The central plaza inside International Village Mall. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

The mall currently houses a handful of busy fast food restaurants and a 12-theatre Cineplex Odeon.

But beside the Rexall drug store and Oomomo Japanese dollar store, most of the businesses and kiosks appear to be of the mom-and pop-variety, with names like E& E Potted Plants, Vikings and Dragons and Amanda's Shoes.

The mall's website currently lists 15 of the 60 retail spaces up for lease. 

Paris Square, home of a T&T Supermarket is one of the two other properties being bundled for sale along with the International Village Mall. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

An early afternoon walk through the complex revealed light foot traffic amidst a number of empty storefronts and business that were either closed for lunch or just didn't bother to open at all. 

'It was weird'

Australian tourist Simon Stringer said International Village left him confused.

"It was weird. I was walking through this mall that looks like it's the rich part of town and there's all these two dollar shops and a lot closed up. It just felt strange," he said.  

A shop owner who asked not to be named said leaseholders heard a buyer was lined up to purchase the mall last year but the sale fell through.

International Village Mall opened 20 years ago. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

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