The Hakim Optical store at the northwest corner of Bloor and Bay Streets in Toronto has shut due to non-payment of rent. The store opened at 66 Bloor Street West during the pandemic and some retailers nearby were quietly unhappy with its presence, given the prominent location along a retail strip formerly known as the “Mink Mile”.
Hakim Optical opened its ‘luxury flagship store’ in the summer of 2020 as retail was opening up following pandemic lockdowns. The optical retailer opened in part of the space formerly occupied by prestigious and historic Davids Footwear which closed in 2019 after the retailer was put into bankruptcy.
A notice on the door of the Bloor Street Hakim Optical says, “The Premises have been re-entered and the Lease has been terminated by the Landlord for default in the payment of rent. Particulars of the default have been provided to you in earlier correspondence.”
No numbers were provided in the notice in terms of the amount of outstanding debts. The notice goes on to note that the landlord is demanding outstanding rents as well as future rents and damages. ProWinko Canada owns the 1200 Bay Street building where Hakim Optical was a tenant.
The exterior of the Hakim Optical store is in a bit of a state of disrepair, and the sidewalks around it appear untidy. It’s in contrast to other retailers nearby, including some of the world’s top luxury brands.
Some nearby retailers had told Retail Insider that they were unhappy with Hakim Optical’s occupancy of the former Davids Footwear space. The pandemic proved challenging for the stretch of Bloor Street West between Yonge Street and Avenue Road that for decades was known as the “Mink Mile”. Vacancies prevailed and for a time, there was worry that the street would lose its cache (nothing could be further from the truth as several luxury brands prepare to open flagships in/near The Colonnade this year).
Hakim Optical did only minor renovations to the former Davids space, and the display windows of the optical store have been neglected with rips and tape marks on the store’s over-the-window branding. More than one retailer said that they got the impression that very little investment was made in the new store, and that it was “bringing down the street”. Some retailers had said that they hoped that Hakim’s lease was temporary, and that a marquee tenant could be found for the prominent corner which is considered to be one of the most important in the country in terms of retail.
Securing a marquee tenant for the corner could become a challenge, it should be noted, as plans are proposed to demolish the building where Hakim Optical is in to construct a very tall mixed-use tower. The rest of the adjacent block, including the current 80 Bloor Street West office tower and the Harry Rosen building at 82 Bloor Street West, will be eventually demolished for a 72-storey mixed use tower with an absurd number of small condominium units that will be contained within.
Plans are also in place to demolish a row of buildings across the street for another major tower proposal at 83-95A Bloor Street West. Construction will take years and will disrupt pedestrian traffic between the eastern side of the Bloor street “Mink Mile” which includes Holt Renfrew and the Manulife Centre, and the western part which is home to large luxury brand flagship stores.
Customers of the Bloor Street Hakim Optical store won’t have to go far to visit a new location — there are two Hakim Optical stores a few blocks south on Bay Street, and some have been scratching their heads as to why there’s such a high density of locations for the retailer.
Hakim optical was founded by Karim Hakimi in 1967 and is the largest privately owned optical chain in Canada. The company has over 160 stores and 120 one-hour factory outlets across the country in Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. The company’s slogan “Your Eyes Can Have it All at Hakim Optical” since 2003 had been named by Huffington Post Canada as one of Canada’s most memorable jingles, and is still used. The company says on its website that it’s sold more than 40 million pairs of eye glasses since its founding.
We’ll report back when a new tenant is secured for Hakim Optical’s Bloor Street space, or anything else related that is newsworthy.