New renderings have been revealed for the redevelopment of the Hudson’s Bay store and part of the Hudson’s Bay Centre at the northeast corner of Yonge and Bloor Streets in downtown Toronto. We announced in an exclusive report on February 24 that the current department store on the site will close this month, and now we have an idea of what’s set to replace it.
Brookfield Properties is proposing reconfiguring part of the Hudson’s Bay Centre, including the former Hudson’s Bay store, for retail and office space. With that, a new facade would be built that would be very different than what is currently at the iconic corner which is characterized by the bunker-like structure occupied by the soon-to-close Hudson’s Bay store.
The proposed development involves a renovation and redesign of the existing podium at 2 Bloor Street East which also includes an attached 32 storey office tower. The main level of the current Hudson’s Bay store as well as the concourse level would be maintained as retail space while the upper levels of the store would be converted to office space.
Larco Investments Ltd. is also proposing changes to the eastern portion of the complex which it owns with the address of 90 Bloor Street East. That would include updates to the building facade while incorporating a new at-grade entry for the updated TTC subway station below.
It’s not yet known what retail tenants might occupy the overhauled Hudson’s Bay Centre podium. Some Retail Insider readers have said that they were hopeful that Quebec City-based La Maison Simons would take part of the space, and until recently that possibility was unlikely with former CEO Peter Simons saying that priorities for the retailer were elsewhere. We’ve since learned this week from the company’s new CEO that Simons has secured space for a new store in Halifax, indicating that more stores could come including one in downtown Toronto. However the amount of retail space at the remodelled Hudson’s Bay Centre might not be enough for a large Simons store.
The Hudson’s Bay Centre opened in 1974 with a multi-level Hudson’s Bay department store as an anchor with the adjacent new tower containing its new head offices. From 1974 to 1991 the Bloor & Yonge Hudson’s Bay store acted as the company’s flagship until a former Simpsons store in downtown Toronto was rebranded to a Hudson’s Bay nameplate to replace it.
The then-260,000 square foot store opened on August 7, 1974. It was the first Hudson’s Bay-branded location in Toronto, not to mention its new flagship. For years prior to that, the downtown Winnipeg store served as the company’s flagship — the downtown Winnipeg store shut permanently in late 2020.
In 1978, the Hudson’s Bay Company acquired competitor Simpsons which had a store spanning nearly a million square feet at the southeast corner of Yonge and Queen Streets. The store continued to operate as Simpsons until 1991 when the Hudson’s Bay Company made the decision to retire the Simpsons nameplate from all stores including the downtown location which became Hudson’s Bay. Given the architecture and vastness of the former Simpsons flagship, it was deemed to be the new company flagship for Hudson’s Bay. Only two years prior, the Simpsons store saw a $30 million investment that some referred to as “the miracle on Queen”. Included in the store renovation was the world’s largest cosmetics department as well as a gourmet food hall in the basement.
In 2013 the Hudson’s Bay Company had looked at replacing the Hudson’s Bay Centre Hudson’s Bay store with a 300,000 square foot Saks Fifth Avenue location that would have competed with nearby Holt Renfrew. A deal was eventually reached where Cadillac Fairview bought the Hudson’s Bay building on Queen and its adjacent office tower, with Saks opening its first Canadian store in 2016 within the Hudson’s Bay building. Sources said that the proposed Hudson’s Bay Centre Saks announcement was part of a tactic in HBC’s negotiations with Cadillac Fairview to buy the Queen Street flagship store.
The Hudson’s Bay Centre is a massive complex housing the soon-to-close department store as well as a retail mall, 1,100 stall parking facility and a 35 storey office tower. A W Hotel is under construction on the site at the base of a tall rental apartment building, and it appears that the hotel could open soon after delays.
The Hudson’s Bay Centre connects to the subway interchange below with a mall retail component spanning 213,000 square feet according to landlord Brookfield Properties. Tenants other than Hudson’s Bay include a Longo’s grocery store, Dollarama, LCBO, and small businesses in the concourse-level mall and a food court. The 35-storey office tower above it spans 535,000 square feet and was designed by architect Craig & Boake. When it was built, the 2 Bloor East office tower housed offices for the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Workmen’s Compensation Board — both tenants were announced in 1971 before the tower’s completion.
The Yonge and Bloor intersection will look very different in a few years. By 2024, an Apple store is expected to open at the southwest corner at the base of a skyscraper named The ONE, and we recently reported on the northwest corner which in early 2024 will become home to a large Lululemon flagship store. The southeast corner is occupied by a Nordstrom Rack store that opened in 2016.
We’ll follow up on this story as it develops.