The Skeena Mall celebrated a 40-year milestone on Nov. 1.
Shoppers occasionally stopped by the display set up by the Terrace Regional Historical Society in an empty space beside the Sport Chek. Posters of newspapers dating back to the centre’s grand opening were displayed along the walls, and in the middle of the room sat a replica of Terrace’s first Roman Catholic Church, which was originally located in the mall’s parking lot.
The 156,000 sq. ft. mall first opened in 1978 with 14 stores including K-Mart, Northern Drugs and Overwaitea Foods. The centre gave residents a way to shop at these major outlets without having to travel six hours away to Prince George, says Tony Ippel.
He joined the mall’s maintenance crew in 1983, five years after it first opened, and says the mall represented a shift in Terrace from a logging community in the 80s into a service hub for the Northwest.
The mall came under new ownership in 2011 when Robert Bosa bought the property for $3.8 million and gave the centre an $8 million dollar facelift. Since then, the 161,000 square-foot mall has brought in leases like Winners, Wings Terrace, Anytime Fitness and Pharmasave to Terrace.
However, the mall has also seen a number of stores leave. Three businesses, including Northern Reflections, Ricki’s and Bea’s Flowerland, have left in the last year. According to Bosa Properties’ website, 10 of the mall’s 27 spaces are vacant.
Though that could change soon, says Skeena Mall property manager Amber Zanon.
“Regardless of the LNG announcement… leasing is heating up,” Zanon says.
While she says she’s unable to comment on specifics until offers are finalized, businesses in the food and retail industry have expressed interest in renting space — with one business in the final stages of solidifying their lease.
With the next economic boom potentially on the horizon, Zanon says she expects the centre will transform to usher in another era in the mall’s history.
“We’re optimistic that with the increase of population that we will see with LNG, that we’ll be able to support new, more exciting leases… and that we’ll have the traffic we need to continue to be a cornerstone of the retail in Terrace.”