Bloor Street shoppers who were pumped for Saks Fifth Avenue to re-vamp The Bay’s tired Yorkville space will have to put up with the department store’s drab concrete exterior a while longer. In a puzzling move, Hudson’s Bay has decided to forgo plans to open Saks at Bloor and Yonge. The company has instead opted to enter into a deal with Cadillac Fairview to sell its Queen Street flagship for $650 million and buy back the lease, bringing the city’s first Saks to the downtown property. The 150,000 square-foot, multi-floor Saks is slated to share the plot with the existing Canadian department store, but the exact division of space is yet unclear.
Though there’s been much buzz surrounding Saks’s Toronto arrival, it seems a shame to open the American retailer in a flagship that has seen such revitalization recently. After neglecting its Bloor Street outlet in favour of pouring money into the downtown space, The Bay’s Queen Street location is much trendier than it used to be. It now has the upscale White Space, which peddles the popular Brit brand Topshop, and ultra-posh retail area The Room carries designers that before could only be found at Holt Renfrew.
So why the change in heart? According to the Globe and Mail, The Bay’s CEO Richard Baker was convinced to bring Saks downtown by Cadillac Fairview CEO John Sullivan. Looks like competition is fierce for landlords wanting to cash in on the arrival of U.S. retail giants. And Cadillac Fairview’s Toronto Eaton Centre seems to be cleaning up, with American luxury retailer Nordstrom also set to take over the Sears plot at the north end of the mall. For now, the Bay’s poor Yorkville outlet is neglected again, and Holt Renfrew’s Bloor Street flagship can breathe a sigh of relief.