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Walmart coming to Royal City Centre official

Demolition of the southwest end of the Royal City Centre mall has already begun to accommodate a new Walmart store expected to open in the fall of 2015. - Grant Granger/NewsLeader
Demolition of the southwest end of the Royal City Centre mall has already begun to accommodate a new Walmart store expected to open in the fall of 2015.
— image credit: Grant Granger/NewsLeader

Mayor Wayne Wright was right.

It just took 10 months for it to become official.

Walmart Canada public relations manager Rosalyn Carneiro confirmed the chain will have a store in the Royal City Centre.

Wright let the cat out of the shopping bag at a New Westminster Chamber of Commerce gathering last May. However, there was no confirmation until last week. Carneiro told the NewsLeader it will be a 90,000 square foot Supercentre. It will span two levels and include a supermarket and full-service bakery along with its regular retail lines.

"We know that it's the right choice for our customers," said Carneiro.

Demolition has already begun at the Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street end of the mall. It will make way for an entrance into the new Walmart expected to open in the fall of 2015.

Carneiro said Walmart does have other stores in shopping malls. But one with parking below it is not typical for the retail giant.

"We look at the site, we look at the neighbourhood and we try to build the right store for that neighbourhood," said Carneiro.

It will be the second Walmart in New Westminster to go along with the 159,000 sq. ft. store in Queensborough Landing. Carneiro said the Walmart's real estate division has checks and balances to make sure the area is capable of handling another store. But she declined to share details of that checklist.

The opening will also mean a third supermarket in Uptown New Westminster. It will be basically right on top of a Save On Foods store in the mall. It was converted from a Safeway outlet last week after Overwaitea purchased it from Sobeys. Overwaitea has another Save On store a stone's throw away in the Westminster Centre.

If no other moves are made by the time the new Walmart there will be eight supermarkets in a city that covers just seven square miles. Save On will move into the former IGA Marketplace location at Columbia Square and soon convert Thrifty Foods in Sapperton. Sobeys still owns two Safeways in the city, and the Queensborough Walmart also has a supermarket.

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