Yorkville Avenue Transitioning to Become a Luxury Retail Street [Feature/Photos]

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Toronto’s Yorkville Avenue is in the process of transitioning to become one of Canada’s most important luxury retail addresses. A number of exclusive retailers have recently opened, and a number of other upscale brands will be moving onto Yorkville Avenue over the next several years, according to brokers doing deals in the area. 

The stretch of Yorkville Avenue, particularly between Bellair Street and Avenue Road, has been seeing interest from a number of the world’s leading luxury brands. Some of them have already taken the leap and have signed leases, some are in discussions to potentially move in, while others are waiting for the ‘right’ space to become available. 

Until last summer, Yorkville Avenue featured a number of upscale retailers along its Bellair-Avenue Road stretch, but no freestanding luxury retailers. Signage for a Kiton boutique features prominently at the northeast corner of Yorkville Avenue and Hazelton Avenue, though it’s technically part of multi-brand luxury retailer V Hazelton. In early 2016, Spanish luxury jewellery brand Carrera y Carrera opened its first North American location on quaint Old York Lane — a  busy walkway that connects Yorkville Avenue and Cumberland Street. 

In August of 2016, luxury French footwear and accessory brand Christian Louboutin opened its first freestanding Canadian location at 99 Yorkville Avenue, in a unique two-storey space that now acts as the company’s Canadian flagship (Paracom Realty’s Jordan Karp and Ripco Real Estate‘s Jeffrey Paisner represented Louboutin, Steven Alikakos of RKF represented the landlord). Luxury streetwear brand Off-White opened its first North American store last month at 83 Yorkville Avenue, in an elongated retail space with a unique interior (CBRE’s Arlin Markowitz and Jackson Turner represented the landlord). Most recently, luxury jeweller Louis Black converted its 118 Yorkville Avenue space into Canada’s first Richard Mille boutique, featuring watches that can cost more than some of the luxury condominiums in the upscale neighbourhood. 

In the fall of 2015, Paris-based women’s luxury brand Chanel confirmed that it had leased an 8,700 square foot flagship space across the street at 100 Yorkville Avenue. Construction is now underway for the new Chanel store, which is expected to open within the next few months. Chanel was represented by DWSV Remax Ultimate Realty Inc.‘s David Wedemire and Stan Vyriotes, who are also involved with a number of other retailers that have either already secured space on Yorkville Avenue, or are currently in the process of searching for the perfect location. 

Mr. Vyriotes and Mr. Wedemire both confirm that Yorkville Avenue is being positioned as a destination for luxury retailers, with Mr. Wedemire noting that Yorkville Avenue might be compared to Madison Avenue in New York City, while Bloor Street West is more comparable to Fifth Avenue. Mr. Vyriotes explained how Yorkville Avenue has the potential for a continuity of luxury retail, because a number of its buildings are owned by one landlord — First Capital Realty. At the same time, both representatives discussed the importance of maintaining restaurants and other food and beverage offerings in the area, in order to attract visitors as well as to maintain the street’s vibrancy. On a warm summer’s day, the area is buzzing with people shopping in stores, going to bars and restaurants, and even eating ice cream/gelato at one of the local vendors. 

Mr. Vyriotes and Mr. Wedemire were instrumental in securing two more interesting retailers to the street — one an international luxury brand, the other a hip multi-brand streetwear retail concept. In late 2018, luxury footwear and accessory brand Jimmy Choo will open a two-level, 2,250 square foot store next to Chanel at 102 Yorkville Avenue, in a new retail building that will have room for three luxury retailers. As well, Mr. Vyriotes and Mr. Wedemire represented upscale/cool retailer CNTRBND in securing a new 2,147 square foot retail space at 135 Yorkville Avenue, with the store scheduled to open this summer. CNTRBND will be relocating from its current store space which is tucked away at 104 Yorkville Avenue.

CBRE’s Arlin Markowitz, who represented the landlord in the Off-White deal at 83 Yorkville Avenue, expressed a similar opinion — that Yorkville Avenue is in the process of transitioning to become a luxury retail street, and that food and beverage will also be important to maintain the vibrancy of the area. The CBRE Toronto Urban Retail team, under the direction of Arlin Markowitz, Alex Edmison and Jackson Turner, have been instrumental in representing both landlords and tenants in the area. 

RKF’s Canadian President Steven Alikakos described Yorkville Avenue as being a “beautiful street”, referring to its recently added paving stones, as well as the street’s vibrancy on a sunny day. “The village is on an upswing,” said Mr. Alikakos, explaining that a number of the world’s leading brands have been asking about space in the area. He’s been working with landlord Cumberland Private Wealth Management to lease space in the 99 Yorkville building, which includes the Christian Louboutin flagship that was discussed above. He revealed that a large restaurant with two patios will be opening behind Louboutin, and two prime Yorkville Avenue-facing retail spaces are available for lease — a 4,800 square foot unit at 87 Yorkville Avenue, as well as an adjacent space measuring about 1,300 square feet. The landlord is seeking international fashion tenants to occupy these two spaces, in order to complement neighbouring Christian Louboutin. 

Briar de Lange, Executive Director of the Bloor-Yorkville Business Improvement Area, described the excitement that is being felt both at her office, as well as in the neighbourhood at large. “The area is already very different now than it was a decade ago, and many more changes are on the way,” she said. The Bloor-Yorkville BIA is seeing a number of positive redevelopments and transformations, which will solidify the area as a truly world-class retail destination.

More is in store as the street continues to progress, and construction is completed on several commercial buildings. Towards Avenue Road, popular steak house STK opened in the fall of 2016, in a space next to the LUMAS Gallery. This summer, they’ll be joined by upscale bakery/food retailer Sorelle & Co., known for using gluten-free, soy-free, sesame-free, vegan, nut-free & preservative-free ingredients. 

Looking further into the future, the 45,000 square foot commercial building at 101 Yorkville Avenue will eventually be demolished and replaced with a 35,000 square foot multi-tenant building that will be dedicated to luxury retail. Landlord First Capital Realty partnered with Greybrook Realty Partners to acquire the site in September of 2016, as First Capital looks to continue acquiring real estate in the immediate area. 

First Capital Realty also owns the enclosed shopping centre with the name ‘Yorkville Village’ (formerly Hazelton Lanes), which is also the name given to its owned properties on adjacent Yorkville Avenue. The mall property recently unveiled a grand open entrance facing onto Yorkville Avenue, with the intention of drawing shoppers into the centre from the street. The Yorkville Village shopping centre is in the process of a significant renovation, which includes the addition of a number of exciting new retailers. This month, we’ll be profiling some of the updates happening at the Yorkville Village mall property, which will add even more luxury brands to the increasingly upscale area. 

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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