The Save-On-Foods store at Station Square mall—once jokingly known as Cave-On-Foods for the collapse of its rooftop parking lot on opening day— is now a pile of rubble.
The closure and demolition happened earlier than originally expected, but Save-On plans to return one day to the redeveloped site.
Anthem Properties, which is redeveloping the mall with Beedie Development, had previously said the supermarket would stay open during construction and eventually move into a new space in the first phase of the project being built at the northeast corner of the property.
Instead, Save-On's parent company, Overwaitea Food Group decided to close sooner, at the end of 2012.
"Closing stores is a very difficult decision and one we don’t take lightly," said Overwaitea spokesperson Julie Dickson Olmstead by email.
"Sales had been in decline at this store for years because of the increase in low-paying, non-union competitors in the market. In addition, we faced escalating business declines as a result of the major renovation taking place at the mall," Olmstead said.
"This sales decline, combined with our uncompetitive operating costs, made it impossible for us to continue to keep the store open."
It still plans to open a new store in the redeveloped site in a few years. And in the meantime, it has opened a freestanding pharmacy near the old site to continue serving its pharmacy customers.
Last October, Anthem said it would be building a 50,000-square-foot space for Save-On-Foods in the first phase, about half its previous size but more in keeping with today's trend in the grocery industry.
The first phase, scheduled for completion in the fall of 2015, will include a 35-storey tower with 269 condo units over two storeys of offices and retail on the ground floor, including the TD Bank branch which continues to operate on Kingsway.
The condo units in that first phase sold out in three-and-a-half hours. When complete, the 12-acre redevelopment will include five residential towers ranging in size from 35 to 57 storeys.
Save-On's earlier departure will now allow the project to move ahead more quickly.
"This allows us to move the schedule up, and with that in mind, detailed design development of the second phase is now underway," said Rob Blackwell, senior vice-president of development for Anthem, by email.
"We don't know when we will bring this phase to market because we are just beginning the process, but the hope is that the whole project will be able to advance more quickly without the need to sequence construction as we had initially set out."
Blackwell said the current phase is on schedule and "by summer, we expect to have the excavation complete and concrete placement will be underway."