“This place is dying.”
So reads an online review of Saskatoon’s Confederation Mall, posted in 2012. This is the perception mall manager Toby Esterby is trying to change as a year-long, multi-million dollar rejuvenation effort gets underway.
“I remember the mall back in the days of the early 90s,” Esterby said during the official construction kick-off Tuesday. “Unfortunately that’s the most recent renovation to this mall. It was a heyday. There was people wall-to-wall in this building at all times. It had fallen from that.”
The revival doesn’t just mean new tenants and a new food court, although those are certainly included in the plan.
Esterby envisions a central gathering place for the whole Confederation area; perhaps even a catalyst for further development in those neighbourhoods.
“We see people in this community and in this mall that have been here for 30 to 40 years, and we see people that are new to our country and new to our city… it’s so important to have a hub for that,” he said.
Even before this week’s announcement, the mall was filled with the sound of power tools and the smell of new building materials. The mall will remain open during all phases of the renovation.
“It’s going to be really interesting to watch people’s reactions actually, because it’s going to be changing on such a daily basis,” Esterby said.
New retailers for the mall have yet to be announced, though Esterby hinted it will be a mix of national chains and local businesses. The new food court will feature five vendors, plus one larger anchor restaurant.
The mall area itself will feature Saskatoon-themed decor, and the integration of First Nations designs.
-with files from News Talk Radio’s David Kirton
Follow on Twitter: @CKOMNews