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Bloor Street to Re-Emerge From Pandemic-Beaten Strip to Luxury and Big-Brand Thoroughfare: Brokers

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No level of optimism can negate the fact that Toronto’s Bloor Street West between Yonge Street and Avenue Road has a significant number of vacant storefronts. The current appearance is almost shocking when compared to just two years ago. Several brokers say that the temporary vacated status of the street will change as leases are signed by luxury and big-name brands. At the same time, several major redevelopments will transform part of the stretch once known as the ‘Mink Mile’ into something almost unrecognizable in years to come.

Numerous vacancies line the strip that spans not even 2,000 feet. At the Yonge Street end, jeweller Swarovski recently closed along with Talbots which both occupied 2 Bloor Street West for years. Next to it at the Holt Renfrew Centre at 50 Bloor Street West, we recently saw Zara exit the complex along with Fossil which shut a store earlier in the pandemic. 

On the same block at 60 Bloor, another retail space is for lease and has been vacant for several years after Holt Renfrew gave it up for a store reconfiguration. West of Bay Street are several vacancies as well including a former Banana Republic store at 80 Bloor, vacant commercial buildings at 83, 91, 95 and 95A to be discussed below, and the former Cole Haan space at 101 Bloor is currently lacking a tenant. At 100 Bloor Street West is the former Pottery Barn store that has been vacant since 2017 which is located next to a former Zegna luxury menswear store which quietly shut last year. 

Click image for interactive Google Map
The soon-to-close Hudson’s Bay store at 44 Bloor Street East. Photo: Dustin Fuhs
Future Apple flagship store at ‘The ONE’ at 1 Bloor Street West (corner of Yonge). Photo: Dustin Fuhs
Shuttered Zara and Fossil stores at 50 Bloor St. W. Photo: Dustin Fuhs

Moving further west again is the former Kit and Ace at 102 Bloor which has been empty for several months — much of neighbouring 110 Bloor appears to be vacant while The Colonnade at 131 has several vacancies at the moment including a large space that was recently vacated by German luxury brand Bogner. The iconic Club Monaco space at 157 Bloor has been empty since last year

While things might look grim, brokers are saying that deals are being done for new tenants along the stretch of Bloor Street once known as the ‘Mink Mile’. Back at the corner of Yonge and Bloor, a major brand is said to have leased a large space where Swarovski and Talbots were — a major redevelopment is at play that will see the corner upgraded and a new Cumberland Square project built behind that will involve demolishing most of Cumberland Terrace for new commercial space and thousands of residential units in towers above. And another major development is said to be in the works for the Hudson’s Bay Centre across the street after the Hudson’s Bay store closes and the City of Toronto begins work on a new subway interchange below. 

West along Bloor there will be several new retailers. An Apple flagship store was recently officially confirmed for the corner because of litigation with Mizrahi Developments which is building a mixed-use project that would house Apple, a hotel and hundreds of pricey condominium units in the tallest tower in Canada. 

Newly renovated Cartier flagship store at The Colonnade, 131 Bloor St. W. Photo: Dustin Fuhs
Shuttered Bogner store to the right and other retailers on Bloor St. W. Photo: Dustin Fuhs
Shuttered Kit and Ace at 102 Bloor St. W. Photo: Dustin Fuhs

Swarovski is said to have secured a new location on Bloor and we’ll discuss that more when details can be revealed. Further west along Bloor, several new retailers will be opening with some of the names to be revealed at future dates. That includes new tenants for the former Pottery Barn and Zegna spaces at 100 Bloor as well as a reasonably well-known luxury fashion brand that recently leased at 110 Bloor which will join future storefronts for Anne Fontaine and Paris Baguette

At 101 Bloor we recently reported that local jeweller Royal de Versailles had leased the former Cole Haan space for a new Rolex store — the corner location could set the tone for other jewellery brands to move onto the stretch which could include a major jeweller in the former Pottery Barn space. US-based women’s fashion brand Lafayette 148 is building a store in the former Intermix space at 130 Bloor and given the slow progress, it might open this fall. More news will soon be revealed about the former Club Monaco space as well. 

In several years, parts of Bloor Street West between Bay Street and Avenue Road will be unrecognizable. Several buildings will be demolished for new developments that will create new retail opportunities at the base of condominium units that will house thousands of new residents. 

1200 Bay Street tower proposal. Rendering via ProWinko Canada
1200 Bay Street tower proposal, retail base. Rendering via ProWinko Canada

The north side of Bloor Street between Bay Street and Bellair Street will be completely demolished for two new projects. The current 1200 Bay Street office complex which includes the 66-68 Bloor Street addresses is proposed to be redeveloped with a new 87-storey tower that would feature retail at its base and over 300 condominium units above. Currently a Hakim Optical store and a skincare pop-up occupy the Bloor-facing side of the building. 

Immediately next door is 80 Bloor Street West and the neighbouring Harry Rosen store at 82 Bloor, both of which have been approved for demolition to be replaced with a 72-storey office and condominium tower that will house over 1,300 residential units and retail at its base. The iconic Harry Rosen store at 82 Bloor will be demolished as a result. 

83-95 Bloor St. W. Tower proposal. Image via  Parallax Investment Corporation
83-95 Bloor St. W. Tower proposal, showing street-level retail. Image via  Parallax Investment Corporation
83, 85, 91, 93, 95 and 95A Bloor Street West (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

And the most recent major redevelopment announcement for the strip lies on the south side of Bloor, basically across from Harry Rosen. Arlin Markowitz of CBRE coordinated the sale of the commercial buildings including 83, 85, 91, 93, 95 and 95A Bloor Street West for a proposed mixed-use project that would include retail at the base and over 1,100 condominium units above. In an interview, Markowitz said that he had been working on the land sale for about three years and that the “stars aligned” after several long-term tenants exited the strip. Markowitz had leased much of the block and had a relationship with the building landlords that led to the eventual assembly of the 17,600 square foot site for redevelopment. 

Both the north and south side developments on Bloor create an opportunity for exceptional new retail space along the luxury stretch of the street that could become attractive to international tenants. It remains to be seen if Harry Rosen will return to the new development replacing its store or if it will open a new store nearby. 

Given the ambitious tower projects along Bloor, one may begin to question the future of other buildings between Bay Street and Avenue Road. The 20 storey 77 Bloor Street West office tower occupies a sizeable site and could eventually be demolished for a much taller tower with retail at its base. The same could be said for 101 Bloor Street West which is adjacent to the Windsor Arms Hotel and private residences which is considered to be one of the most prestigious addresses in the city. Given the remarkable concentration of wealth in the area, an opportunity for a very high-end residential building could be present at the corner — more recently, building proposals nearby have consisted primarily of small residential units. 

We’ll be announcing new tenants along Bloor Street in the weeks and months ahead as we continue to gather information and report on what’s happening in the area. 

Additional Photos from Bloor Street

Bloor Street West (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Future Lafayette 148 on Bloor Street (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
110 Bloor Street West (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Bloor Street West (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Bloor Street West (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Bloor Street West (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Manulife Centre (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
The Former Zara on Bloor Street (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Former Talbots and Swarovski at 2 Bloor (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Yonge & Bloor (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

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, 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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