Major Optical Chain Secures Mink Mile Space at the ‘Best Retail Corner in Canada’

Toronto-based eyewear chain Hakim Optical has leased a prominent corner retail space at 66 Bloor Street West where it is building a luxury focused flagship. Hakim Optical will occupy part of the space formerly occupied by Davids Footwear which closed in October of 2019.

Hakim Optical’s corner retail space faces both onto Bloor Street West and Bay Street within the 1200 Bay Street building. Hakim Optical will occupy more than 3,000 square feet of the former 6,000-square-foot Davids space. Broker Jordan Karp and his team at Savills Canada negotiated the deal on behalf of the landlord. Hakim Optical was self-represented in the lease deal which a source from another brokerage described as being “too good to pass up”.

Signage on the under construction Hakim Optical store indicates that brands carried will include Giorgio Armani, Tiffany & Co., Prada, Miu Miu, Dolce & Gabbana, Coach, and others.

The corner of Bloor and Bay streets sees thousands of pedestrians pass by daily on a typical day, and is part of the stretch of Bloor Street that some refer to as the ‘Mink Mile’. To the east towards Yonge Street, major retail tenants include Holt Renfrew’s flagship, Eataly, Birks, H&M, Zara, and Nordstrom Rack. To the west of 66 Bloor is a row of upscale retailers including Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew Men, Hermes, Dior, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Burberry, and others.

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In an interview last year, Birks CEO Jean-Christophe Bédos described the corner of Bloor and Bay as the “best retail corner in Canada”. The Birks flagship store located at that corner reopened last year after a substantial renovation as part of the overhaul of Manulife Centre which also saw Italian grocerant concept Eataly open upstairs.

Other optical retailers in the area could lose market share with the opening of the upscale Hakim Optical location. Across the street in the 60 Bloor Street West building is upscale eyewear retailer Josephson, which recently completed a renovation of its storefront that faces Bay Street. On nearby Old York Lane, optical retailer Karir carries frames that in some cases priced in excess of $1,000. Other eyewear retailers in the area cater to locals and visitors, which before COVID-19 included substantial tourist and office foot traffic.

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 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 has been named by Huffington Post Canada as one of Canada's most memorable jingles, and is still used.

Last week it was revealed that the 12-storey 1200 Bay Street building where the new Hakim Optical location will be is expected to be demolished in years to come. A development application by Dutch developers Kroonenberg Groep and ProWinko could see a Herzog & de Meuron designed 87 storey skyscraper rise on the site rising more than 1,060 feet above the Bloor Street intersection. The proposal includes retail at the base of the building, offices from the second level to the 13th floor, and a residential tower component above containing more than 300 condominium units. The top floor would include a restaurant according to plans. Given the proposed height and density, sources say that the tower proposal is unlikely to be approved given the history of development in Toronto.

A proposal next to 1200 Bay Street, as reported on Retail Insider last year, could see a massive mixed-use tower with a residential focus rise next door. It would involve demolishing the 80 Bloor Street West office tower to construct a massive building that would cantilever over the Harry Rosen store at 82 Bloor Street West. Some are saying that the proposal is unlikely to be approved as well though it’s clear that developers are interested in building new towers in Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville area.

The space Hakim Optical will move into was formerly occupied by Davids Footwear. The luxury footwear retailer operated at the corner for decades before being put into bankruptcy by parent company Rosejack Investments in August of 2019.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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