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Walmart would be good for Uptown: Slotman

Although the mayor recently said Walmart was coming to the Royal City Centre, the mall
Although the mayor recently said Walmart was coming to the Royal City Centre, the mall's owners haven't confirmed it, but are promoting an 'exciting new retail' for 2013.
— image credit: GRANT GRANGER/NEWSLEADER

A Walmart, if it's coming, should be a boost to other retailers in the area according to the president of the Uptown Business Association (UBA).

On May 15, Mayor Wayne Wright told a New Westminster Chamber of Commerce luncheon the new anchor tenant for the Royal City Centre mall would be a scaled-down Walmart outlet. Despite Wright's revelation, Laetitia Pacaud, president of Strathallen Capital Corp., which owns the mall, said in an email the company is unable to make an official announcement about the pending new tenant. Walmart officials did not respond to the NewsLeader's request for information.

While emphasizing he has no confirmed knowledge Walmart is moving into the neighbourhood, UBA president Bart Slotman said the retail giant's presence in Uptown would be good because the store's consumers in the area would be kept there instead of traveling to Queensborough or Lougheed Town Centre.

Slotman said whether anyone is a fan or foe, Walmart already plays a role in the market.

"Whether you like it or not … The reality is they are in the market right now and they are drawing people out of Uptown. If it is Walmart, then once it opens you wouldn't have to go across the Queensborough Bridge or cross Lougheed Highway to get to it."

Slotman admitted some retailers may have to adjust to deal with the reality of competing with a Walmart close by.

"That's a challenge for some retailers and I think they will rise up to the challenge. The positive of having a greater number of shoppers on the sidewalk are greater than the negatives that will come with having the competition of Walmart," said Slotman.

Slotman is vice-president of Uptown Property Group (UPG) which runs the Westminster Centre Mall that houses a London Drugs and Save-On-Foods grocery store. He said having a Walmart as an anchor tenant will draw traffic into the Royal City Centre, which has been seeking a big tenant ever since Zeller's left in 2006.

"It will do that building a tremendous amount of good, and it will attract other retailers into that centre," said Slotman.

UPG is currently constructing an office complex on Sixth Avenue at Fifth Street. Slotman said Queen's Park West is expected to be finished by September with the first offices to start operating in October and fully leased by the end of the year.

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