A long-awaited grocery store in the northeast part of downtown is well under construction and slated to open nearly two years behind schedule.
The Loblaws City Market will be a critical tenant in the Ice District, surrounding Rogers Place.
“Having a grocery is just the next catalyst to really spur ongoing residential development and help people see the benefit and opportunity of living downtown,” said Ward O-Day’min councillor Anne Stevenson.
It’s being built at the site of the former Greyhound terminal, at the corner of 103 Street and 103 Avenue.
Similar to the Brewery District City Market that’s about 20 blocks west, the downtown market will feature 18,000 square feet of space, with a focus on both fresh and ready-to-go meals.
“This is not just about residents, necessarily. It’s about tourism and people wanting to work downtown,” explained Heather Thomson, executive director of the centre for cities and communities at the Alberta School of Business.
The grocery store was supposed to open in the fall of 2020, but now Loblaws has pegged an opening “towards the end of 2022,” two years behind schedule.
“It’s always hard when such a long-awaited amenity is taking even longer to come to the community. I know local residents are really keen to see that happen,” Stevenson said.
The project has faced numerous challenges in the pandemic.
“We haven’t had the foot traffic down there. Rogers arena has been closed for so many months of the last few years. I think it’s definitely contributed to the delay,” Thomson said.
Ice District’s executive vice president Tim Shipton said in addition to wanting to open at the right time, there’s been supply chain issues and construction labour struggles.
“Most recently we’re seeing impacts due to the Omicron variant that some of the construction workforce has been out.”
Stevenson said she plans to ensure the city is doing everything it can to keep the project moving.
“I just hope everything can stay on track for this year.”
For years, Edmonton’s downtown has been described as a food desert. Today, only four major grocery stories exist in the downtown core — with none east of 109 Street.
In the past, another grocer tried to fill that void: a Sobey’s on Jasper Avenue and 104 Street. But it closed in 2014, after six years in business.
At the time, the company said the location was underperforming.
Those involved in the Ice District City Market are hopeful the timing now is right with recent development downtown.
“We believe 2022 will be the year for us,” Shipton said.
A Real Canadian Liquor Store will also be included in the development.
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