Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chilliwack Eagle Landing Walmart Expansion


Eagle Landing - Oct. 2009

Just in case you missed this story the Chilliwack Progress reported that a massive 150,000 square foot Walmart is to be developed within the Eagle Land Retail Centre which is located on Squiala First Nation Land. Walmart has been rumoured to have been looking for a successful site for some time but large parcels have been hard to find due in part to the Agricultural Land Reserve constraints. The ALR regulations do not apply to First Nation Lands as they fall under federal and not provincial jurisdiction.

The Eagle Land Retail Centre accessible from the new Evans Road flyover (nearing completion) will consist of approximately 600,000 square feet of retail space in an unenclosed shopping centre. Cineplex Entertainment announced last week that they would be building an 8 theatre complex with a footprint of 31,000 square feet.

My View: First off I am pleased for the Squiala First Nation it looks to me that they have struck a fair bargain that will no doubt provide much needed funds and future employment opportunities for the band.

Speaking of employment, I wonder if an extension of the industrial capacity started just south along Yale Road West would have produced better paying industrial jobs. I can not imagine that retail businesses will be paying much more than minimum wages and be staffed with a lot of part time workers.  From a real estate point of view, I wonder if these jobs will provide enough income to purchase a home and pay the mortgage.

Chilliwack already has a Walmart at the Chilliwack Mall and 6 screens are available between the Paramount in downtown Chilliwack and the Cottonwood 4 in Sardis, so there is no real advantage here other than newer and bigger.  Competing businesses will be impacted and for some, on the edge of bankruptcy, this will be the push.

They have talked for years about redeveloping the downtown core of Chilliwack this will be a setback.  The marvellous boutique businesses found today in downtown Chilliwack are simply going to have become more marvellous.  They do provide a welcomed alternative to most products offered by Walmart but they will need to focus on how they can offset the price advantage of an aggressive multinational company.  It can be done and because a Walmart already exists in Chilliwack there maybe less work than a quick glance would suggest.

In short, this type of “drive to commercial sprawl” reflects the continued emphasis on large box store development to the determent of older commercial areas and better paying industrial opportunities.

That’s my take, what do you think?

Stephen Mullock is a Chilliwack real estate associate broker with 29 years of experience. He can be reached at Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty, telephone 604-792-0077.

Copyright October 14, 2009 by Stephen Mullock.

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