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Long & McQuade acquires Winnipeg retail property

City's shopping assets have been the subject of several transactions in past two months

Long & McQuade has acquired a 119,000-square-foot retail property at 1300 Ellive Ave., in Winnipeg. (Courtesy Shindoco)
Long & McQuade has acquired a 119,000-square-foot retail property at 1300 Ellice Ave., in Winnipeg. (Courtesy Shindico Realty)

Music industry retailer Long & McQuade has purchased a 119,000-square-foot shopping centre on nine acres of land at 1300 Ellice Ave. in Winnipeg in the latest of a series of significant retail trades in the city over the past two months.

It was acquired from long-time owner the Robinson family for $12.5 million.

Winnipeg-based Shindico Realty, which also manages the property in the city’s Polo Park area, represented both the buyer and seller in the off-market transaction. 

“The Robinson family let us know that, if the right buyer came along, they would consider selling the property,” Shindico senior vice-president of retail and investment
Michael Stronger told RENX, “but they didn't want it marketed openly because they were happy with the asset and it was absolutely a success.” 

Shindico representatives spoke with owner-operators they believed might have interest in purchasing 1300 Ellice but nothing came to pass, until Long & McQuade liked the location and space, according to Stronger, who said a deal to acquire it then closed pretty quickly.

“They own a lot of their own stores, their own properties, and they also have a lot of tenants,” Stronger noted. “Owning a property of this nature wasn't out of scale for them.” 

History of the Ellice Avenue site

The property was developed in 1952 and was originally owned and occupied by Manitoba Telecom Services. It was sold to the Robinson family’s SIR Warehouse Sports Store, which occupied most of the space, in 2004.

While keeping the property, SIR’s business was sold to American hunting, fishing, camping and outdoor gear retailer Cabela’s — which used it as a store as well as a distribution and call centre — in 2007.

Cabela’s then purchased land and built a new store in southwest Winnipeg in 2013, leaving behind a 100,000-square-foot vacancy at 1300 Ellice.

Shindico redeveloped and fully leased the property to Bianca Amor’s Liquidation Supercentre, Uptown Alley, Aaron’s, Dollarama and Yellowquill University College

Stronger said Bianca Amor will move to a smaller location in the Polo Park area and Long & McQuade will redevelop its approximately 50,000-square-foot space and open a new flagship store this fall. The facility will also be a distribution hub and music teaching space.

Long & McQuade also plans to create a small retail space that will be available for lease.

The other current tenants will remain in place.

Long & McQuade currently has three Winnipeg stores. It is vacating and selling a renovated store of approximately 12,000 square feet at 661 Wall St. to move to the new location.

“Polo Park is the No. 1 retail node in the city and services all of Winnipeg,” Stronger explained. “It's just a great news story for everyone involved.”

There’s plenty of parking and a commercial pad site that can accommodate up to 6,000 square feet of space is available fronting St. Matthews Avenue, which is on the opposite side of the property from Ellice Avenue.

Stronger believes it would work well for a medical office building.

With the removal of some parking, there’s also enough room on the St. Matthews side for future multiresidential or commercial intensification on the site.

Winnipeg retail market

While there’s been very limited large-format retail development in Winnipeg over the past 20 years, Shindico president and CEO Sandy Shindleman told RENX the local retail market has remained strong.

His company has been acquiring assets and is looking to add more.

Shindico, founded in 1975, is a full-service commercial real estate company and one of the largest privately owned real estate firms in Manitoba.

After recently acquiring and integrating Akman Management, a property management firm with a portfolio of 1.2 million square feet across 1,000 multifamily units and 18 commercial assets, the company has grown to about 60 employees.

Stronger said medical, day-care and educational uses, as well as quick-service restaurants, have become a bigger part of Shindico’s retail portfolio.

“We've been intensifying locations with more retail,” Shindleman noted. “We've been adding buildings and expanding buildings and leasing the buildings up and expanding tenants within those properties.” 

Shindico is also seeking retail sites that can be intensified with multifamily development or updated in other ways to add value.

The company will do more of that work in-house with its recent launch of SNR Construction Ltd., a full-service general contracting division offering pre-construction, design-build and construction management services.

It will specialize in the construction of commercial, multifamily and light industrial buildings.

Recent retail transactions in Winnipeg

The city has seen a number of recent retail transactions.

In December, Artis REIT announced the pending sale of four Winnipeg retail properties - Linden Ridge Shopping Centre, Linden Ridge Shopping Centre II, McGillivray Boulevard and the Shoppes of St. Vital, comprising 301,539 square feet - as part of an eight-property Western Canada portfolio.

The entire portfolio is being sold for $222 million. The company making the acquisition was not identified.

Shindico itself has been involved in several transactions, including buying the Renfrew Mall, a 1960s-built strip plaza at 1675-1685 Corydon Ave., in December. Shindico already owned a strip plaza across the street, as well as other properties in the area, and the decision to invest in this one was driven by its prime location and mix of long-standing tenants.

Shindico also assumed ownership and management of Pembina Shopping Centre at 1717-1755 Pembina Highway last month. The 4.2-acre site has a dozen national, regional and local tenants.

Pembina Shopping Centre is beside the 189-unit Georgetown Park Apartments, which Shindico acquired last January from a Winnipeg family office.

Shindico and Cadillac Fairview are partnering on the transformation of CF Polo Park, Plaza at Polo and Polo North Developments — located on Portage Avenue and St. Matthews Avenue between St. James Street and Empress Street — into a mixed-use destination that will include a significant number of multifamily buildings with thousands of units. 

Shindleman is hoping to have entitlements within a few months. The project will take place over the next decade and represent more than $1 billion of investment.

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