By Trevor Suffield
Dec. 11, 2008
A number of prospective purchasers have already expressed an interest in Canada Safeway’s Ellice Avenue store, which the grocery giant closed earlier this week.
The 1081 Ellice Ave. outlet closed Dec. 10 after 44 years at that location. The West End location was closed to make way for a new flagship store scheduled to open Dec. 11 in Madison Square near Polo Park.
Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director of the West End Biz, said there have already been three or four inquiries about the property. However, she said it’s too early to discuss who the interested parties are.
“I have had some inquiries into the space and availability, so that’s interesting,” she said. “The West End is becoming a popular place for businesses and residents to locate, so good space is definitely in demand.
“It would be great to see another grocery store, but I understand that when one store closes they’re not necessarily willing to give up the space to their competition.”
Andrew Swann, the MLA for Minto, continues to receive calls and emails from the community in support of having a full-service grocery store at the location.
Swann said he is not yet aware of any specific plans for the property.
“Safeway has said that they’d be willing to keep the dialogue open,” he said.
“I will take them up on the offer and I’ll repeat what I told them about what the residents said, and hopefully they can give us an idea of what their plans are.”
John Graham, public affairs manager at Canada Safeway, said the company hasn’t begun to review its options for the Ellice Avenue property. Safeway owns the building and the land it is located on.
“We still plan to sit down with Andrew Swann...to get the community’s input,” Graham said. “And we’ll certainly be moving forward in the new year with a strategy for alternative tenants for the property.”
Chad Balmer, store manager of Valu Lots at 910 Wall St., acknowledged that there was a downside to the closure of the Safeway outlet. However, he added that it could be good news for other area businesses, such as his.
“With business on the rise, we’ve been trying really hard to cater to the area we are in,” he said, adding Valu Lots began planning an expansion and upgrades to its food and pharmacy departments in anticipation of Safeway’s closure.
Wes Schollenberg, commercial division member and past president of the Winnipeg Realtors Association, said he has already fielded some queries regarding the Safeway property.
“Some people have called me on it, and I’ve pretty much told them that it’s not on the market and not available,” he said. “I think if somebody brought them a good proposal they probably would not be in a position to deal with it for many months.
Cardwell-Hoeppner said even though she was disappointed by Safeway’s decision to close the store, it could benefit smaller businesses in the area in the short term.
“It will probably give people in the community an opportunity to experience some of the smaller stores and what they have to offer,” she said.
Cardwell-Hoeppner said she is not sure at this time what she would prefer to see move into the location.
“It’s a good chunk of land, and a good size building, so definitely I could see a larger business, or several businesses grouping together,” she said. “It’s always nice to see mixed use.”