It is increasingly apparent that the Hudson’s Bay flagship store in downtown Vancouver as we know it is on borrowed time.
The store has seen little reinvestment over the decades and with its dated condition, it has been unable to compete with neighbouring Nordstrom and Holt Renfrew and a growing number of other retail players such as La Maison Simons.
And it is now inevitable that the building will be redeveloped.
Towards the end of February 2022, Hudson’s Bay is scheduled to unveil its proposed plans to redevelop the store building at 674 Granville Street. The public will be invited to provide early input on the proposal, with feedback going towards finalizing the formal rezoning application that will be submitted to the City of Vancouver over the coming weeks.
The six-storey building was constructed in 1927 and with a total floor area of about 650,000 sq ft, it is one of the largest single buildings in the city.
A redevelopment of the building is expected to retain the heritage exterior’s cream terra cotta facade and Corinthian columns while adding additional commercial use floor plates over the structure.
The Bay department store is expected to return to the reconfigured building after its completion, but within a smaller footprint that uses fewer floors and a reduced floor area. This will better reposition the store to compete in both the modern brick-and-mortar and online retail landscape. Currently, much of the sprawling vertical store space is significantly under-utilized.
If you’re a longtime Vancouverite, odds are you’ve used the slow, worn-down, wood interior elevators at Hudson’s Bay in downtown #Vancouver. The elevator wait was longer than late night SkyTrain.
— Kenneth Chan (@iamkennethchan) August 1, 2021
In Spring 2018, the company reached an agreement to sell its downtown Vancouver building for $675 million, but the deal fell apart.
In Fall 2020, Hudson’s Bay announced the creation of a New York City-based real estate development company named Streetworks Development. The division will lead the redevelopment of the store’s vast real estate profile, which totals 40 million sq ft of gross leasable area across North America.
This redevelopment activity of its existing real estate provides not only a new major diversified revenue stream but also serves to generate capital for the renewal of its stores.
Hudson’s Bay permanently closed its 1923-built downtown Winnipeg flagship store in late 2020, and its Streetworks division is now exploring redevelopment opportunities that retain heritage components, with the assistance of the Manitoba government.
The design details for the downtown Vancouver flagship store redevelopment proposal will be revealed during in-person public information meetings on Wednesday, February 23 from noon to 6 pm, and Saturday, February 26 from noon to 3 pm.
There will also be an on-site exhibition from Wednesday, February 23 to Sunday, February 27, held daily from 11 am to 6 pm.
The in-person public information meetings and exhibition will be held on the main floor of the downtown Vancouver store. Proof of full vaccination will be requested by staff.
A virtual public information meeting is also planned for Thursday, February 24 from 7 pm to 8 pm.