Retail stores come and go, but people will always need health care. That’s why the key to reviving malls after a global pandemic may, somewhat ironically, lie in the medical industry.
West Edmonton’s Meadowlark Health & Shopping Centre has transformed itself by turning vacant former retail spaces into medical facilities.
“Meadowlark is to an extreme. The exterior part of Meadowlark is all retail but the entirety of the interior mall is medical,” says Ben Jasper, director of leasing with the mall’s owner, First Capital.
“We have basically every type of specialist in that mall, whether it’s orthopedic or dental or heart or cancer. They’ve created their own little family of cross-referral business and keeping everything on site.”
The mall has about 40 medical facilities, offering everything from blood work and X-Rays to minor surgeries. First Capital has also converted the entire second floor of Northgate Mall, on 137 Ave. NW at Canadian Forces Trail, to medical and is bringing a similar shift to Westmount Centre in Woodcroft.
With retail shopping on the decline since the advent of online shopping, and having taken a serious hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, Jasper says some mall owners are finding stability in the medical industry
“Any new space we develop, we develop it for medical,” Jasper says.
“Medical inherently is going to be more stable than retail. Typically you get a tenant whose build-out is more costly, I would say the quality of finishes are higher, you get significantly less turnover.”