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Hudson's Bay considering redevelopment of downtown Vancouver flagship store

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Kenneth Chan Feb 01, 2018 2:24 pm 3,683

The potential sale of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s (HBC) flagship store in downtown Vancouver could lead to a redevelopment of the building.

Last fall, the retailer announced it was putting its 650,000-sq-ft, six-storey building on the market, with the property valued at as much as $900 million.

And according to a recent report in The Globe & Mail, a brochure sent to potential buyers highlights the possibility of adding more density to the building through a rezoning.

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This could potentially lead to a mixed-use redevelopment that retains the exterior’s cream terra cotta facade and Corinthian columns, but adds new floor plates on top of the building to create new residential and office spaces.

HBC stipulates that developers must protect the heritage elements of the building and views of the mountains, skyline, and water.

The report also states HBC will continue to lease back the property and use the first four floors for retail while the top two floors will be leased to co-working office space company WeWork.

Such a redevelopment could carry a similar approach to the proposed mixed-use plans for the old Canada Post building, which involves adding 900,000 sq. ft. of floor area to the existing 686,000-sq-ft building. This is accomplished by the construction of new floor plates within the existing structure and adding three towers reaching up to 20 storeys on top of the sprawling building.

A redevelopment of Hudson’s Bay flagship store could follow a similar approach as the proposed redevelopment of the Canada Post building through the addition of new floors on top of the building while retaining the heritage exterior. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / Bentall Kennedy)

A redevelopment of Hudson’s Bay flagship store could follow a similar approach as the proposed redevelopment of the Canada Post building through the addition of new floors on top of the building while retaining the heritage exterior. (Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership / Bentall Kennedy)

‘Super-tall’ towers on top of the HBC building are unlikely due to the challenging scope of work in modifying the 1927-built structure and the view cones that restrict building heights on the site.

Separately, a significant redevelopment of the city block that houses the The Bay Parkade – located directly across the store’s Seymour Street side – is planned by local developer Holborn Group.

Daily Hive reached out to HBC and real estate brokers CBRE and Brookfield Financial, but they were unable to comment on the redevelopment possibilities being explored.

HBC’s new strategy moving forward involves divesting and redeveloping some of its prime real estate properties to generate more revenue amidst the challenging retail climate for traditional department store chains.

Last October, the retailer made its first major move in this portfolio by selling its Lord & Tayor’s New York City flagship to WeWork in a deal worth USD$850 million (CAD$1.075 billion).

As part of the deal, Hudson’s Bay stores at downtown Vancouver, Queen Street in downtown Toronto, and Galeria Kaufhof in Frankfurt will be downsized to allow WeWork to expand its business into the upper floors of each store. It is unclear how a redevelopment of the Vancouver store would affect HBC’s obligations to WeWork.

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Kenneth Chan
National Features Editor at Daily Hive, the evolution of Vancity Buzz. He covers local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation and infrastructure, and the travel industry. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]dailyhive.com

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