Corporate convention centre ‘ideal’ for Sears’ old spot in Surrey

Surrey Board of Trade says former location in Guildford is great spot for ‘first-class’ facility

SURREY — The Surrey Board of Trade would like to see a corporate convention centre replace the Sears department store that permanently closed for business at Guildford Town Centre on Monday.

Ivanhoe Cambridge owns the mall and at press time was silent on what the future will hold for the former Sears site.

But Anita Huberman, CEO of the board of trade, said the board would like to see something “very similar to the Vancouver Convention Centre” occupy that spot, at 10355 152nd St.

“Something that’s beautiful, that’s maybe even linked to an existing hotel chain where they can provide that first-class corporate style service,” Huberman said.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner maintains that “with the LRT (light rail transit) going through there any of those business opportunities represent a good location.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner

“I would not have any comment over that location over any others that may come to mind relative to a location,” Hepner told the Now-Leader. “I think certainly the time is right for the city to have some conference space and that’s as good as any given that the transportation option is there.”

Sears Canada’s final hour at Guildford Town Centre was 6 p.m., Jan. 8, according to the shopping mall’s website.

The department store chain, which had been in business since 1953, received the green light from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Oct. 13, 2017 to begin liquidating its inventory, furnitures, fixtures and equipment on Oct. 19. As a result of the closure of 74 stores across the country, including the one at the Guildford mall, some 12,000 employees have lost their jobs.

READ ALSO: Pain will be shared with Surrey Sears closure

Riordan McCarthy, retail leasing director for Guildford Town Centre, told the Now-Leader on Wednesday that he couldn’t say who the site’s next occupant will be.

“No further update at the moment. Nothing that I can report on officially, no,” McCarthy said.

“When we have secured a replacement we would have a more cohesive announcement. Very rarely will we announce independently to one party without sort of announcing to the world.”

Huberman said the board of trade has pitched the idea for a convention centre with the mall owner.

Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade

“We met with Ivanhoe Cambridge early last year for the possibility of that site being used as a convention centre because we feel that there was going to be some type of redevelopment around the 104th area, there was an empty parking lot there, lots of land and we thought it would be an opportunity because we’re so starved for that convention centre that we so desperately need — a nice corporate convention centre — and so I know that with the light rail transit it would have been the ideal location around that corridor.

“I know that at that time they weren’t looking at that as a possibility,” Huberman said. “They had other plans in place from corporate. I think it really presents an opportunity, though, for Guildford Town Centre. The whole concept of brick and mortar retail is really changing, that whole paradigm of online shopping has really come to the fore and in fact continues to change and I think the whole reality of retail is in an ongoing transformation. I think for Guildford Town Centre, for Surrey in itself, I think that available space that is now presents an opportunity for Ivanhoe.”

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