I was in Airdrie last night and found myself with 2 hours to kill, so me and my 11 year old son decided to head over to the newest "Mega Mall Extravaganza", CrossIron Mills. Having heard all the hype all week long about this fantastic shopping destination, I was actually pretty curious to see what all the full was about. After all, there has not been an enclosed mall built in Alberta for over 20 years.
And now I see why.
Maybe I am a little biased as I grew up with Chinook Centre and SouthCentre as the malls of choice in Southwest Calgary, but this CrossIron Mills really is a DUD! After walking around the mall, I found that it really does not offer anything different than any Calgary mall. ( But wait...what about BassPro Shops? Well my friends, I do not hunt, fish or camp on a regular basis so this Bubba Supercentre is just not for me!)
The mall has a ton of parking, which is a good thing. ( I am trying to find some positives.) They have seriously odd decorations, including a creepy "statue" of a frozen caveman in the middle of a hallway, but I had to get real close to tell what the heck it was supposed to be. I also found the mall floor switching from hardwood to carpet randomly, which looked like"rushed" construction in my opinion. This was just the beginning of the fromage fest that is CrossIron Mills!
Now, I know we are in a recession and the economic situation is not great, but I believe that this mall may run into some serious financial trouble given time. If you look at the mall's current tenants, it is somewhat impressive. They have been able to attract some "big" name tenants, which is absolutely necessary. Look closer though, and you may see some cracks appearing...
1) The mall is still looking for 3-4 more Anchor Tenants. ( And Holt Renfrew pulled out of the mall at the very last moment, leaving a empty store in the middle of the "fashion" wing. YIKES!)
2) Some of the tenants are already "odd". I saw two (yes two!) Calender Club stores in the mall, in very key locations. Ouch. There is already one big Dollar Store and I predict there will be 2-3 more in the coming years. The funniest tenant I saw was "Blue Grass Garden Centres"....uhm, ok?
If you really look around, there are some spots that look like they were leased out simply to avoid the embarrassment of an "empty mall". This does not look good at all!
3) The mall was busy, busy, busy this week. But is also hype driven, back to school traffic. And most of the people I saw last night did not have armloads of bags, as it appeared that they were just coming to the mall to see what all the talk was about!
Now I know that the Airdinians will love this location. I imagine that most of Coventry Hills, Harvest Hills and the other Crowded NW Hills will find this convenient. But look at Deerfoot Mall. This was once touted as a great destination for the NW shopper. It is now a 2nd rate outlet mall. I cannot see people from South West, West or Deep Southeast Calgary driving to CrossIron, so I imagine the same fate awaits it.
Anyways, what do I know. I am sure that Ivanhoe Cambridge knows what they are doing. I am just a consumer after all, one that will stick to Chinook Center.