Nfld. & Labrador

Avalon Mall to demolish part of former Sears space, remove strip mall in parking lot

The Avalon Mall has revealed more upcoming changes to the building and surrounding area as it moves ahead with a major redevelopment plan.

Crombie REIT says changes will result in safer, better parking and improved shopping

The Avalon Mall is on the cusp of some big changes. (CBC)

Just months after Sears — one of the Avalon Mall's anchor tenants for years — closed its doors, mall administration says part of the space that housed the now-defunct retail giant will be demolished.

The Avalon Mall has revealed more upcoming changes to the shopping centre and surrounding area as it moves ahead with a major redevelopment plan following its 50th anniversary. Last week St. John's City Council approved an agreement in principle

The plan also involves removing a multi-tenant strip plaza, which houses Wicker Emporium and H&R Block, in the parking lot near the former Sears space, according to a development permit application sent to the City of St. John's.

The front of the mall will also be extended out to the road that runs through the front parking lot to make way for new shopping areas.

An artist's drawing of the proposed changed to the Avalon Mall. The yellow sections show the new expansions to the mall's property. (Crombie REIT)

Crombie REIT says the work is all part of a redevelopment plan for the shopping centre that will result in better parking, new stores, refreshed exterior design and improved shopping experiences.

Last month, the mall announced a new entertainment centre called the Rec Room would be opening near Scotiabank Theatre inside the mall.

Traffic changes

The redevelopment plan includes a realignment of the main entrance for the building on Kenmount Road.

An artist's drawing shows a planned new entrance being flanked by two new stand-alone businesses.

Last May, the city gave the green light to moving the Kenmount Road intersection further east so it lines up with Polina Road, which would make a proper intersection with four-way traffic lights. Crombie REIT says the change will make the entrance safer.

Coun. Maggie Burton says work on the new intersection in front of the Avalon Mall should get underway by the end of this year. (CBC)

According to Coun. Maggie Burton, the intersection redesign will be a city-funded initiative. She said council hopes work will begin by the end of the year.

"The city has been needing to do the storm water sewer replacement for quite some time, as well as fix the intersection," she said.

"One of the reasons for the approval in principle was so that the mall could go ahead with its reconfiguration of its entrance in conjunction with the work that the city needs to do at the Polina Road intersection."

Bucking the trend

While malls and other bricks-and-mortar stores continue to be threatened around the world by online retail, the Avalon Mall is one of the busiest in the country, noted Burton. A new parking garage is being built to handle the high volume of people that still go there to shop, see movies and eat in the food court.

Burton said council is looking forward to the changes to the 50-year-old St. John's institution.

"It's such a great mall," she said. "I know it's one of the top-grossing malls in Canada. I'm not sure where it sits on that Top 10 list but it's just a Newfoundland phenomenon."

With files from St. John's Morning Show