This artist's rendition shows how Broadmead Village plans to modernize its storefronts and reinvigorate its breezeway plaza in a year-long project starting in September.

This artist's rendition shows how Broadmead Village plans to modernize its storefronts and reinvigorate its breezeway plaza in a year-long project starting in September.

New look and feel coming to Broadmead Village

The Broadmead shopping centre will undergo a year-long facelift starting this September.

Broadmead Village will undergo a year-long facelift starting this September after Saanich council gave its thumbs-up to the renovation plan.

Broadmead storefronts will be modernized with fresh signage and new facades, while sidewalks will be widened in a renewed emphasis on pedestrian access. Key to the facelift is redeveloping the existing pedestrian breezeway with more outdoor seating to create a community gathering place. At the centre would be a gas outdoor fireplace.

“It’s important to create a sense of space by increasing the plaza in the breezeway and removing cars from that area,” Sheldon Chandler, Chandler and Associates Architecture, told Saanich council last week. “A central element is the fireplace. It will be a very welcome piece in an environment that cools off at night.”

“The fireplace provides a gathering place to draw the community in,” added Alison Miles Cork, the senior asset manager for Grosvenor Americas, the owner of Broadmead Village. “It’s such an important element to get people to linger and visit with each other.”

The $6-million project will also increase the size of retail space for the Pharmasave, infill a gap next to the Mark’s Work Wearhouse, and add two kiosks, for a total of 200 square metres more floor space added to the 12,500 square metre shopping centre.

Vacancy rates at Broadmead remain low, about 4.4 per cent according to Miles Cork, and negotiations are underway to expand existing retailers and add new retailers. But at 20 years old, the centre is becoming dated.

“The age of the centre is impacting retail sales as it is driving less traffic,” Miles Cork said in an email. ”As well, we are seeing less interest from quality retailers that the community wants to see at the centre.”

“In a competitive environment you have got to change to be successful. The old look is not well received,” said Coun. Vic Derman. “In the end, you’ll bring more interest and activity to the place, it’s a benefit to the (shopping centre), to the community and to Saanich as a whole.”

Saanich council unanimously approved of a number of variances for Broadmead’s development permit, but not before offering compliments sandwiched with criticisms.

Coun. Paul Gerrard complemented the overall redesign, but said he was disappointed the internal four-way stop near the Royal Oak Drive entry isn’t being reconfigured.

“It’s a good mall and a welcoming mall, but I don’t like the four way stop,” he told Miles Cork. “You need to think about that. It’s brutal getting in and out of there and turning to Canadian Tire.”

Councillors also pressed Miles Cork to improve pedestrian access from Royal Oak Drive – many people enter the property through a path down a grassy bank on the west side of the property. Not initially part of the plan, Miles Cork said based on council comments, they’ll give pedestrian access a second look.

“We will be paying attention to the pedestrian trodden path that is there today and creating a safer and more inviting entrance to the centre,” she said.

Mayor Frank Leonard recalled when council sent the developer back to the drawing board 20 years ago due to the original strip-mall design.

“I moved for rejection because it looked like what you’d find on the (Interstate 5). They came back with a more unique design,” he said.

The mayor lauded the Broadmead Residents Association for hosting public meetings and encouraging Broadmead to keep a design in step with the community. “They met with the property owner and inspired them to keep the distinct look, so it doesn’t look like every other mall.”

“We have to be careful not to make the mall look like everywhere else,” agreed Coun. Vicki Sanders. “The development must reflect Broadmead.”