Hudson’s Bay Flagship Properties Set to Undergo Massive Transformation

Hudson’s Bay Co. is embarking on an ambitious plan to upgrade its flagship properties in its home country of Canada.

The retail group announced today that it will build a 25-story office tower of about 1 million square feet, as well as “transform” its existing retail space in downtown Montreal. The mixed-use real estate project is expected to be underway by 2023, with its completion targeted for 2027.

According to president and CEO Iain Nairn, the development will include a “curated assortment” of merchandise in a “digitally connected store with elevated service.” (The Hudson’s Bay Sainte-Catherine Street outpost will continue to operate throughout the construction process.)

What’s more, the office tower — which the company said would align with LEED standards — will feature large, flexible floor plates of up to 60,000 square feet and be reimagined with biophilic design. Hudson’s Bay shared that it was working with the City of Montreal and other stakeholders to ensure the project meets current regulations.

“This project presents an opportunity to establish a multi-functional store that continues to offer the brands and services that Canadians trust us to deliver, while developing new uses for space, such as showrooms or concierge services, that reflect the modern lifestyles of our customers and the vibrancy of downtown Montreal,” Nairn said.

Together with RioCan Real Estate Trust, Hudson’s Bay owns or controls 10 properties that comprise more than 3 million square feet in Canada. The decision to revamp its brick-and-mortar fleet comes at a trying time for the retail sector, which has had to contend with widespread closures and declining foot traffic amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As consumers continue to evolve the way they live, work and shop, we are committed to capitalizing on these shifts, while unleashing the full potential of our prime properties throughout North America and reinvigorating the urban districts in which they are situated,” HBC Properties and Investments president and CEO Ian Putnam added in a statement.

In February, the Canadian Press reported that Hudson’s Bay would permanently let go of more than 600 employees — predominantly in “sales and middle management roles” — at its namesake department stores in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver. Nearly half of its locations in the country were still temporarily shuttered at the time.

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