The beautiful Club Monaco flagship store in an historic building on Toronto’s Mink Mile will be closing permanently this week, leaving a vacancy at a prominent corner of the city. Club Monaco moved into part of the Lilian Massey building at 157 Bloor Street West in March of 1996 and has been a fixture at the corner which is unlike any other in Toronto.
The store held a sale over the weekend that included 50% off sale priced merchandise. The basement men’s department has been moved upstairs and one of the women’s fashion rooms has already been closed to the public.
The store opened to much fanfare in the spring of 1996 and plans were already in place to expand it. “Bloor is one of best streets in the world for shopping, and though it has been in a moribund state for a while, it has clearly come back,” said Sol Nayman, executive vice president for Club Monaco in a statement to WWD at the time.
The Lillian Massey Building’s Neoclassical architecture includes a prominent facade of Indiana limestone with columns topped with Ionic capitals and was designed by architect George Martell Miller. Construction on the building was completed in 1912 for the University of Toronto’s Household Science program that was created by Lillian Massey Treble, the daughter of wealthy businessman Hart Massey.
The building is owned by the University of Toronto and it also houses the University’s Department of Classics and Centre for Medieval Studies, as well as the offices of the University of Toronto’s Division of University Advancement.
In years past, renovations to the store saw Club Monaco’s CMX brand move downstairs into a room that was once a swimming pool. The pool was covered over and product was displayed in the space. Most recently, menswear was housed in the space which as of this week is no longer accessible to the public.
Years ago, on-site restaurants opened in collaboration with Club Monaco and with limited success. A ‘Club Monaco Fashion Cafe’ opened in 1998 for a time and a ‘Colony Cafe and Bar’ opened in 2002. Space in front of the store allowed for a patio space and various pop-ups have been held there over the years, most recently including flower markets and food vendors.
Club Monaco is owned by Ralph Lauren. For years, many have speculated that the Club Monaco store could be converted to a Ralph Lauren flagship location which would make sense given the architectural style of the brand’s flagships in New York City and Chicago. A source at Ralph Lauren told Retail Insider in the fall of 2020 that the brand would not be moving into the Bloor Street Club Monaco building and may consider a storefront nearby in the future.
The Mink Mile Club Monaco flagship is located at the southwest corner of Bloor Street and Avenue Road — technically Avenue Road becomes ‘Queen’s Park’ leading to Queen’s Park Crescent south of Bloor Street. The address is unique in that all four corners feature historical buildings which are permitted to be lit at night. The northeast corner of the intersection houses the historic Church of the Redeemer and the Royal Ontario Museum occupies the southwest corner. The historic Park Hyatt Hotel occupies the northwest corner and the building is currently undergoing a transformation to include an upscale rental apartment building in the former historic hotel building as well as an updated hotel component facing Prince Arthur Avenue.
Brokerage CBRE Toronto is listing the Club Monaco space at 157 Bloor Street for lease. Arlin Markowitz and the CBRE Urban Retail Team are the contact for those interested in leasing the space. Listing materials show a ground floor of 7,673 square feet and a lower level spanning 9,463 square feet. The space is available as of April 2021 and is described as being a “Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure corner retail in a beautiful historical building along Toronto’s premier luxury fashion retail strip.”
The building features more than 100 feet of frontage on Bloor Street West. Neighbours next to Club Monaco include Peloton, Max Mara and Montblanc, all of which have renewed their leases for extended time periods according to CBRE. Across the street are flagships for Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, Gucci and other major brands.
The exit of Club Monaco on Bloor Street leaves another vacancy to fill at a challenging time for the street, and it is fortunate that the space is said to be already seeing interest from brands since being advertised for lease in November. Since the pandemic, several other retailers have exited Bloor Street as retailers struggle. The Mulberry store at The Colonnade at 131 Bloor Street West closed over the summer and Intermix closed a few months later at 130 Bloor. J. Crew exited Canada recently and its store at 110 Bloor Street West shut forever in September of 2020. Victorinox shut its store at 95A Bloor Street West several months ago, as did Banana Republic at 80 Bloor Street West and The Gap which closed its store at 60 Bloor Street West early this year. Fossil quietly closed its store on the street level of the Holt Renfrew Centre at 50 Bloor Street West last year while other locations in Canada remain open.
Prior to the pandemic, store locations that shut on the Mink Mile included MAC Cosmetics at 91 Bloor Street West, Michael Kors at 131 Bloor Street West, and Guerlain and Browns Shoes at 110 Bloor Street West. At the same time, spaces that have been vacated are seeing interest from new brands according to brokers working in the area.
We reported in December that Club Monaco was opening a store at CF Carrefour Laval near Montreal, marking an expansion for the retailer. In October of last year we reported that Club Monaco had partnered with Hudson’s Bay to carry the women’s and men’s fashion lines in 21 Bay stores.
Club Monaco was founded in 1985 by Joe Mimran, Saul Mimran, and designer Alfred Sung. The company was bought by Ralph Lauren in 1999. Club Monaco is known for its well designed casual clothing. Club Monaco operates stores throughout Canada primarily in shopping malls and the retailer also has several street front and outlet stores. Club Monaco also has stores in the United States, UK, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, and Sweden.