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               PENHORN MALL: DARTMOUTH, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA

Mark Hamilton's Commentary

Posted March 24, 2007(user submitted)

Penhorn Mall opened in 1974 and is the largest single level mall in Nova Scotia. It is located in Dartmouth at the junction of an expressway (Route 111) and a major arterial (Portland St.) The U-shaped mall is anchored by Wal-Mart (130,000 sq ft), Sears (80,000 sq ft), Sobey's Grocery (50,000 sq ft) and Empire 6 Cinemas. The mall has long been overshadowed by Micmac Mall, a regional mall 2 miles away. However, the mall has survived and it has functioned as a large community shopping centre for the area despite an obvious lack of investment ( i.e. the last renovation was in 1989).

Recently, however, the mall has suffered a catastrophic blow with the closing of the Wal-Mart on January 18, 2007. This major anchor store has relocated to Dartmouth Crossing, a new power centre 4 miles away. Mall tenants are uncertain about the future and rumours abound that the mall will close or will face redevelopment. Sobey's have said that they will not leave the mall and they are talking about a relocation within the property. There is no word from Sears, which is located in one of the mall's dead zones. Several vacancies have already appeared throughout the mall, which has a mix of national retailers, independents, fast food outlets and dollar stores.

Penhorn Mall has a peculiar U-shaped design that deters customers. The two largest retail spaces (the former Wal-Mart and the Sears store) are adjacent but they have no direct connection within the mall. The mall corridor between the former Wal-Mart and Sobey's is a busy route for mall shoppers. However, the corridor leading to Sears is a dead zone.

Penhorn Mall has clearly failed to change with the times. The loss of the Wal-Mart is a huge wakeup call for this sleepy 1980's era mall. While other local malls have transformed themselves, the owners of Penhorn Mall have invested little in the shopping centre. The choice now is between obliteration or a rapid adaptation to current retail trends. Look for a transformation to a much smaller power centre-style complex together with new housing on the remainder of the property.

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