Landlord Oxford Properties has announced its plans for the overhaul of its Park Hyatt property in downtown Toronto at the corner of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road, which will include about 40,000 square feet of retail space as well as luxurious hotel and residential components. The project will be completed early next year at a time when there are other retail vacancies in the area.
The property was formerly named the ‘Park Plaza’, and included two hotel towers as well as a modest commercial base. The hotel was closed temporarily in December of 2017 with plans for a substantial redevelopment that would include restoring the historic south tower at the corner of Bloor and Avenue Road, as well as the newer north tower fronting onto Prince Arthur Avenue. As part of the development, more retail space would be added, including creating an expansive porte-cochère linking the two buildings with second-level commercial space. The architecturally significant south tower opened in 1936 and the north tower was added in 1956, featuring a much more modern aesthetic. Oxford Properties acquired the Park Plaza complex in 2014 for $90-million.
The retail podium at the base of the historic tower at the northeast corner of Bloor Street West and Avenue Road will be expanded and updated for new tenants. About 20,000 square feet of retail space located at the base of the tower, with about 10,000 square feet at street level as well as an additional 10,000 square feet upstairs. The second-level retail will boast double-height ceilings with the opportunity for 30-foot heights within a mezzanine level with dramatic arched windows, according to Oxford Properties. With about 100 feet of frontage along Bloor Street West and about 100 feet along Avenue Road, the retail space will offer considerable exposure.
Prior to the hotel’s temporary closure, a more modest retail podium featured a Strellson flagship store as well as a Second-Cup coffee shop and Subway restaurant. All closed prior to December of 2017 in anticipation of the redevelopment.
More retail space will be added to the development, including some in a connected pathway between the two towers. That will include a 10,000 square foot ground-level restaurant with a roof deck overlooking Yorkville. While not confirmed, sources say that it could be a high-end Japanese concept.
As well, the popular Stillwater Spa will reopen in a new 8,000 square foot space with 13 treatment rooms, with design elements from the previous spa location. Remarkably, the existing Morton’s Steak House at the base of the north tower, with corner frontage on Avenue Road and Prince Arthur Avenue, will remain open throughout the construction process.
The historic south tower (rebranded as Two Avenue Road) will feature 65 luxury rental apartments ranging between 900 square feet and 1,800 square feet, with about five units per floor. Residents will have access to the hotel fitness centre as well as al fresco dining on a 2,500 square-foot outdoor terrace outfitted with an adjoining “luxury kitchen”.
A popular rooftop restaurant on the 17th floor of the south tower will re-open with its own dedicated elevator on the northwest corner of the tower. Oxford Properties says that it is the first high-rise in Toronto to be totally retained in an adaptive re-use project.
The updated Park Hyatt hotel north tower will include 219 hotel rooms with 38 suites (a presidential suite and two multi-level suites are in the works) — that’s down from the original 346 rooms in the former hotel. Included in the new hotel will be 14,000 square feet of meeting and event space, and a massive 600-person ballroom. Both the hotel and residences feature local Canadian materials throughout including limestone flooring sourced from Owen Sound.
It remains to be seen what kind of retailers will be secured for the expansive retail space at the base of the historic south tower. Industry experts question if luxury brands will consider moving across Avenue Road from the prestigious ‘Mink Mile’ strip that includes some of the world’s top luxury stores.
The Strellson store that formerly occupied the space was said to be doing exceptionally high sales numbers. Some have speculated that Oxford Properties may seek to add luxury brands already located at its Yorkdale Shopping Centre property in Toronto, while others say that contemporary brands are being targeted for the updated Park Hyatt retail podium. At one time, a high-end grocery concept was also said to be a possibility.
There are several other vacant retail spaces in the area, located on both sides of updated Park Hyatt. The base of the Exhibit Residences tower at 200 Bloor Street West has been vacant since it was finished a couple of years ago, and the eastward ‘Mink Mile’ component of Bloor Street West also has spaces for lease and sublease. Industry insiders say that a combination of high asking rates and increased property taxes have made it challenging to lease retail space in the area, with bike lanes and reduced foot traffic also said to be issues.
At the same time, Bloor Street West is seeing an incredible resurgence with new developments that will include several key tenants. About 600 feet east of the Park Hyatt is The Colonnade at 131 Bloor Street West, which this summer will see the opening of North America’s largest Christian Dior flagship store. Last year luxury retailer Hermes opened an impressive flagship at 100 Bloor Street West, as did Ermenegildo Zegna next door.
Further east, still, are some exciting developments. This fall, Italian food concept Eataly will open a three-level, 50,000 square foot location at the Manulife Centre at 55 Bloor Street West, joining a recently revamped Birks jewellery store as well as several other retailers. The Holt Renfrew flagship at 50 Bloor Street West is in the process of a substantial overhaul that will include a new facade, and the adjacent 60 Bloor Street West office tower is also being updated. At the busy corner of Bloor Street West and Yonge Street, sources say that Apple will open a three-level flagship at the base of Mizrahi Developments’ ‘The ONE’ tower, joining recently opened Nordstrom Rack and a recently opened McEwan grocery store at 1 Bloor Street East.
The Cumberland Terrace building at 2 Bloor Street West will also see significant changes to its commercial podium, as well as new towers with retail at the base, and across Cumberland Street there will be more than 60,000 square feet of additional retail space at the base of two major developments at 11 and 33 Yorkville Avenue.
One might question if all of the new retail space can be leased, though at the same time there may be an opportunity for national brands at a range of price-points to locate in the Bloor-Yorkville Area. The high-density neighbourhood is growing rapidly as new condominium buildings are built, and the area’s household wealth is among the highest in the country. We’ll continue to monitor changes to Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville area and will update this article when we learn of the new tenants that will occupy the updated Park Hyatt retail podium.