On Monday, city council approved the renovation plans for the Towne Centre Mall on Bernard. The mall will also feature a new name, "The District" once the renovations are completed. Early last year the mall was sold to undisclosed buyers with Colliers International facilitating the purchase.
Built in 1981, the mall currently has 24 retail stores and businesses, 54,365 square feet of leasable space, including more than 25,000 square feet of retail space on the main retail level and over 28,000 square feet of office space on the second floor. Its anchor tenants, Molly’s Garden Cafe are already vacating the mall and plan to open their new space beside The Bohemian Cafe & Catering Co. on Bernard soon.
Based on the renovation plans Colliers International released to the public, "The District" features a new facade fronting Bernard Avenue and two large columns on either side of the entrance that very much resemble the beams that jut out from the sidewalks every few hundred feet or so along each side of downtown's main street. There will be new stucco and brick cladding, and new canvas awnings with signage.
Decorative changes will also be done to the interior with an effort to make it brighter-looking, but overall the mall plan will remain the same with Collabor8 Architecture and Design (based out of Vancouver and Calgary) taking on all of the redesign work.
“I’m very, very pleased to see this. I think it’s just beautiful,” Councillor Maxine DeHart said. “It’s been a long time coming.” Councillor Luke Stack said the new-look mall will be a “tremendous addition” to downtown Kelowna.
What happens to the current retail stores like MacDermott’s Mens Wear, Ten Fashions Bridal Boutique, Annegrets Chocolates, La Belle Boutique, and AMNI Apparel remains to be seen, however Collier International has indicated in their marketing material that the design concept for The District "will feature a fresh mix of retailers, restaurants and services looking to be a part of the future of Kelowna.” We reached out to Colliers International for further comment on that, however they have yet to return our call.
Malls have undergone quite a shift in the last few decades, with the competition they face from massive box stores, online shopping and all that other fun oligpoly capitalism stuff, sometimes to good results (outdoor malls, the new food halls) and sometimes not (zombie malls). It will be interesting to see what happens here as downtown Kelowna further evolves.