24 March 2024

Kingsway Mall, Edmonton, AB

 An extant asset

The first mall that I ever visited in Canada was Edmonton City Centre Mall, a downtown vertical that had definitely seen better days.  Secondly, I experienced the famed West Edmonton Mall, the largest of its kind in North America with a metric tonne of shops, restaurants and attractions.  Those first two destinations were remarkable in their own rights, but it wasn’t until my third where I got to appreciate the average, everyday suburban style mall that most Canadians frequent.

1 & 2- Kingsway Mall main entrance.  3 to 5- The former Zeller’s anchor.  6- HomeSense, Marshall’s and Hudson’s Bay.

Kingsway Mall, located just to the north of downtown, really exemplifies the difference in enclosed shopping centers north of the border from the those to the south.  Unlike its US counterparts, it is not surrounded by acres of an asphalt wasteland but is rather much more compact.  Double tiered throughout, there is some surface parking in the forepart but most spaces are located in a large parking deck flanking the full length of the facility.

Kingsway Mall Mallmanac ca 2018.  View the full PDF version here.

I have a preference for these more compact retail centers.  They tend to be quite a bit more pedestrian friendly and accessible to most.  In fact, there are two Edmonton Light Rail Transit stops at either end of Kingsway Mall that just are a short stroll away.  I really wish more in the US were built the same way, but then where would Amazon build their freakishly large distribution centers without the vastly expansive graves of the average American shopping Mall?

1- The Edmonton skyline rises behind Kingsway Mall.  2- Hudson’s Bay’s old school dark glass adorned entrances.  3 & 4- The Hudson’s Bay from the rear of the mall.  5- The lower level mall entrance for Hudson’s Bay.  6- The anchor’s upper level entrance.

As far as the façade, the single feature that I loved the most was the eighties-fabulous, accessorized with sooty colored glass entranceways of the anchor Hudson’s Bay.  Its fresh coat of white paint elsewhere contrasts sharply with these dated adornments and combined together were my favorite features of the entire complex.  The balance of the outside was rather formulaic as far as shopping malls today are concerned both north and south of the border; it was mainly made up of motley styles determined by each big box store with direct access to the car park.

1- The interior just beyond the main entrance.  2 to 8- Scenes around Kingsway Mall’s upper level.

The interior décor also pretty much followed the average western style shopping complex template; nothing too unique or memorable stood out.  It was dressed up in neutrals all throughout.  But what I like best about Kingsway and other similar malls in Canada such as nearby Southgate Centre is the labyrinthine nature of their layouts.  Rather than straight forward barbells, Ls and crosses, they twist and turn and loop with unexpected corridors past every curve.

Kingsway Mall Mallmanac ca 2024.  View the full PDF version here.

Kingsway Garden Mall opened in 1976 with Hudson’s Bay and Zellers as the original anchors.  Decked out in dark earthy tones of brick, tile and wood, it also utilized greenery to the utmost, proudly  justifying the Garden in their name.  In 2009, Kingsway saw its first major renovation when the interior was brightened up and the vegetation was expunged.  It was at this occasion when the word Garden was appropriately dropped from the name.

1- The lushness of Kingsway Garden Mall not long after opening.  2- The dungeon like food court of the original mall.  3 to 4- The dark, moody interior of Kingsway in the eighties.  5- Zeller’s mall entrance.  6- The Bay’s exterior pre-whitewash.  (Source for all)

In 2013, Zeller’s was taken over by Target Canada with the latter opening their doors in 2014.  Target’s tenure in the great white north was fleeting and they themselves departed a just year later.  What was originally Zeller’s was subsequently subdivided into space for junior anchors and now houses Home Sense, Dollarama, H&M and Marshall’s.  More churn came in 2018 when Sears Canada exited the country entirely.  A Wal Mart took over the space in 2022.

1 to 7- Scenes of the lower level concourse.  8- Kingsway Mall’s food court.

Besides the anchors, Kingsway offers a diverse selection of retailers that much reflects the multiple backgrounds of the city’s residents.  The food options alone include Shumka Ukrainian Foods,  Osmow's Mediterranean Cuisine and, one of the best in my biased opinion, Philippine based Jollibee.  If I were a resident of the city, even as much as I love the West Edmonton Mall, Kingsway would definitely be my preferred destination for everyday shopping.

No comments:

Post a Comment