“I think we’re eating in linens right now,” I said casually to my mom recently.
We were taking in the tastes offered by Saskatoon’s Midtown Common, the new Midtown Plaza food court located in the Sears vacancy.
Any semblance of the historic retailer, however, has all but disappeared. The shopping space has been replaced with exposed concrete and a modern look.
Basically, it is everything Sears wasn’t.
Sears closed the doors for good in January 2018 at the Midtown Plaza, Saskatoon’s downtown enclosed mall. The vacancy as a whole was blocked off from the rest of the mall and I’d assume the demolition has been ongoing ever since.
Rumours swirled around who would be filling the estimated 160,000-square-foot tenancy. I predicted that they’d chop the space up and indeed, that’s what has happened.
The new-look Midtown Plaza
Midtown Common has chewed up approximately 42,000 square feet of what used to be the second storey of Sears. The remainder of the second floor is currently blocked off, but I would expect it will be developed in the future.
The main floor of the vacancy has been transformed just as dramatically.
The natural existing corridor from the mall now extends into the Sears space (right through perfumes and makeup!) and offers multiple tenant retail units.
Signage indicates the Shoppers will soon relocate to a newly demised unit that will face 20th St., basically in the old sleepwear and lingerie section.
I don’t have any confirmation if this is to allow for direct outdoor access, but that would align with the format of other Shoppers locations.
MEC to join tenant mix
Most of the existing tenants have moved up from the previous food court, which was located on the main floor of the Midtown facing toward Idylwyld Drive.
There are five new vendors to the food hall, with room for 16 tenants in total. Having visited a few times now, I’ve tried newbies Mia Pasta (meh) and Pi Co (yum!).
I’ll pretend my decision to have KFC, which is new to Midtown, was because my seven-year-old niece wanted it. But that’s a lie. We both did. I can confirm it was delicious as always.
The old food court is already cordoned off for MEC’s renovation, which will see 16,000 square feet of retail with 4,000 square feet for service shops and community rental space.
MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) is expected to open in the spring of 2020.
Saskatoon grants tax relief
The entire facelift to the mall and new food hall is estimated to be costing the Midtown owners $80 million. This will be softened slightly by a tax abatement, which applies only to the Sears portion of mall, from the City of Saskatoon.
Though the city has no policy in place, council endorsed what will effectively be a five-year tax abatement worth approximately $565,000 per year.
Mall representatives estimate they draw 11 million visits per year.