I was born and raised in Saskatoon. Like some of you, I remember the dreaded traffic circle at what is now the Circle Drive and 8th Street overpass. You would pull up to the circle, grip the wheel, and hope and pray as you entered the loop.
For decades, 8th Street was the “Street of Dreams” of Saskatoon real estate. It was home to classics like the Holiday House Motel, Duffy’s Theater, and El Rancho. These historic businesses slowly moved out of the limelight as rising stars like Superstore and other national brands moved in to backfill the sites. Some staples remain, like the McDonalds at Louise and 8th, the window-service-only A&W and probably the most iconic, the Granary and Fuddruckers.
But what does the future hold for Saskatoon’s Golden Mile? As the city expands and shopping patterns change, can 8th Street maintain its top billing on the marquee?
Many of the shopping centres along the street were constructed in the 1980s. As years have passed, some of these developments are starting to look their age.
The growth of new areas of the city at an exponential rate along with changing traffic patterns means that 8th Street is bound to slowly experience a decrease in traffic. As well, these new residential communities are planned to include a multitude of services like grocery stores, pharmacies, and places to dine that are all closer to home for residents. Landlords in these areas are achieving rents in the range of $30-45 net for new construction – lease rates that until recently were only recorded on 8th Street.
If owners of 8th Street real estate expect to continue to achieve current rental rates, they will need to update, renovate, and reassess their shopping centres. Removing antiquated signage, updating exteriors, and having cohesive tenant mixes will all be driving forces to get consumers on the lots.
A prime example is the retail site at the corner of 8th and Cumberland, where once sat an aging Safeway. The site was demolished and rebuilt to accommodate a new Save-On-Foods, Urban Cellars, Scotiabank and a number of other CRU tenants. This rebuild allowed the site to achieve better site lines, parking layout, and rents for the owner.
Is 8th Street’s time in the spotlight over?
Probably not. But like other classics, it may be time for a reboot with some fresh faces. A little rouge on the cheeks never hurt anyone.