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Luxury outlet mall to open on Sea Island in 2014

An artist
An artist's rendering of one of the luxury plazas inside a future designer outlet mall on Sea Island.
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Phase 1 of a luxury outlet mall will open on Sea Island in the fall of 2014, Vancouver Airport Authority officials have announced.

The 459,600-square-foot retail centre—twice the footprint of the Richmond Olympic Oval—is a joint project between the airport and London-based McArthurGlen Group. It's expected to boast the world's leading fashion brands like Prada, Armani, Burberry and Gucci.

"This is an exciting project that will increase the region’s destination appeal for visiting travellers and encourage local shoppers to spend within their own community," announced Larry Berg, airport authority president and CEO, Friday.

It will be built on airport-owned land just south of the BCIT Aerospace Technology Campus on Russ Baker Way.

Site preparation is scheduled to begin in August, with the first phase of 97 stores opening in two years.

The Vancouver Airport Authority, a not-for-profit organization that operates the airport, wouldn't disclose the cost of the project.

Gary Bond, McArthurGlen’s CEO of development, said the location, local economic strength and tourism potential appeal to luxury brands that would locate at the centre.

Airport authority spokesperson Lara Gerrits said the project will create 200 jobs during construction and approximately 1,000 jobs at the future retail centre.

Project officials hope the mall will reverse a trend of shoppers heading across the border to destinations like Seattle Premium Outlets. Sea Island's mall, however, will carry pricier brands than its mid-market competitor south of the border.

The retail centre's traffic impact on Sea Island is expected to be "minimal," according to an airport-commissioned traffic study, which noted the mall would open after the morning rush. Project officials also hope to attract transit users by offering them a free shuttle service connecting the outlet with the Canada Line's Templeton Station and the airport.

In March, Sea Island Community Association president Judith Mules-Kirby told The Richmond Review the mall—with its promises of green space and family-friendly atmosphere—could become a village square for people of Burkeville.

"If all those promises come to fruition, I think it could be a wonderful thing for the island. It could become a real meeting place."

McArthurGlen has developed 20 malls across Europe, each featuring high-end fashion, sporting goods and housewares retailers.

The outlet mall will be just over half the size of Richmond Centre mall. Spokesperson Leslie Matheson said Richmond Centre is now focusing on enhancing its offerings, rather than building more space.

"The addition of the new 35,000-square-foot dining terrace and the redevelopment of the 40,000 square feet of new best-in-class retailers where the old food court was located, while not adding to the overall size of the building, will help elevate the experience for shoppers."

The Sea Island project is among a number of development plans or proposals on the airport-controlled island.

The airport authority has preliminary plans to build a 250-room hotel and business park next to Templeton Station, and a new 700,000-square-foot Canada Post processing facility is under construction on Ferguson Road.

In addition, officials announced in January $1.8 billion in improvements planned for the next decade, including 700 metres of corridors and moving walkways, new high-speed baggage systems, upgrades to the domestic terminal building and runway safety enhancements. To help pay for the plan, airport officials hiked the airport improvement fee to $20, an increase of $5.

Luxury designer outlet on Sea Island

•Vancouver Airport Authority planning to develop a destination retail centre of luxury brands with London-based McArthurGlen Group.

•Public information sessions will be held Tuesday, June 26 and Wednesday, June 27 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at River Rock Casino Resort's Whistler Ballroom C

•Sessions will offer information on building design, economic benefits, environment and timeline

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