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Commercial real estate takes a new direction with town centres

Despite the waning popularity of malls and shopping centers, people in Alberta and beyond still love to shop. While online shopping may be surging, many folks continue to enjoy visiting brick and mortar stores to make their purchases. However, consumers seem to be ever looking for a more convenient shopping experience, and shopping malls and plazas may have outlived their usefulness, prompting developers to consider a new direction for commercial real estate.

When a retail-only development sees a major change, such as the exit of an anchor store or a change in ownership, the retail centre may lose its competitive edge. This is why more developers are thinking outside the retail-only box, creating multi-use developments that combine residential and office space with retail tenants. Instead of merely shopping centres, developers are creating town centres, essentially providing a complete experience for working, living and entertaining.

Owners of retail malls and shopping centres have an increasingly hard time keeping their facilities in repair, and rapidly increasing online sales make it difficult for some malls to justify making the upgrades. However, more retail developers are partnering with residential developers for a forward-thinking approach to solving both the retail crisis and the rising cost of residential property. For example, one city is planning to construct 23 residential condominiums and over 12 million square feet of commercial space in one district.

Navigating the complex overlap of residential and commercial real estate may prove challenging. Nevertheless, consultants feel the momentum is moving in that direction. Before taking such a huge step as investing in real estate, many developers, entrepreneurs and potential homeowners in Alberta seek the advice of a lawyer with extensive experience in all aspects of these transactions.

Source: renx.ca, "More malls set to become mixed-use developments", Steve McLean, June 13, 2017

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