Owners of Polo Park Target building to subdivide vacant store for new tenants

A big commercial space at Polo Park that has sat vacant for almost three years could be home to new tenants in the near future.

U.S. retail giant closed St. James Avenue store in Winnipeg in 2015 months after it opened

The Target retail store built over the former Canad Inns Stadium site has sat vacant since early 2015. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

A big commercial space at Polo Park that has sat vacant for almost three years could be home to new tenants in the near future.

This past fall, the city approved a request to divide the former 140,000-square-foot Target building on St. James Street into three retail spaces, and develop a roughly 3,900-square-foot lobby that would connect two of the three stores.

Target Corp. closed the store at the old Canad Inns Stadium site in April 2015 just months after it opened to the public. It bought almost 200 Zellers stores from the Hudson's Bay Company in 2011 and opened its first Canadian stores in 2013.

The U.S. retail giant announced in January 2015 it was pulling out of the Canadian market due to nearly $1 billion in losses it suffered during its first year north of the border. 

Current joint owners Shindico and Cadillac Fairview — the latter owns Polo Park Shopping Centre — have had trouble finding a new tenant or tenants ever since.

Property-tax revenue from new tenants would go toward paying down a $160-million loan fronted by the province that was used to help build Investors Group Field on the University of Manitoba campus.

The province and city are responsible for paying back $75 million, plus interest, but have had a hard time making a dent due to the absence of tenants at the former Canad Inns Stadium site.

The property was projected to generate $7 million annually in property-tax revenue; only $3 million in property-tax revenue had been applied toward a portion of the loan as of September of last year.

As a result of that shortfall, the Manitoba government revised its expectations of getting all of its money back and placed a $56-million loss provision on the IGF stadium loan this fall.

Target originally designed the building as a single-use space that was meant to be its anchor location in Winnipeg.

In November 2017, the city's Assiniboia community committee approved a request to redevelop the building into a multi-use space capable of accommodating three tenants.

Councillor Scott Gillingham (St. James-Brooklands) voted in favour of the approval. A spokesperson from his office would not confirm whether any new tenants have been secured.

A representative with Shindico declined to provide details over any potential new tenants.

In addition to subdividing the space and building an addition on the south side of the building, the approved changes include superficial touch ups to the outside of the building, new windows, landscaping and parking lot upgrades.

With files from Wendy Parker