by Stephen Garner
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Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) has unveiled a plan to transform its Downtown Montreal Hudson’s Bay store with the help of RioCan Real Estate Trust. Along with the restoration of its flagship store, the two companies will partner to develop a new office tower to serve the city’s central business district.

The Downtown Montreal mixed-use real estate project will include the construction of a 25-story office tower of approximately one million square feet and the transformation of Hudson’s Bay’s existing retail space. HBC is working closely with the City of Montreal and other stakeholders to finalize details. The project is expected to be underway by 2023, with completion targeted for 2027. The Hudson’s Bay Sainte-Catherine Street store will continue to operate throughout the construction process.

“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,” said Ian Putnam, president and CEO of HBC Properties and Investments. “HBCPI is excited to lead the way to unlocking the value and potential of our joint venture portfolio for our most significant flagship properties throughout Canada.”

The office tower, to be clad in a glass curtain, will be among the most avant-garde in Montreal and will represent the future of the workplace. The partners will focus on employee well-being and concern for the environment, while respecting the heritage of the flagship building.

The new tower will provide the type of flexibility and space required by high-growth businesses to create first-class healthy workplaces. Taking a state-of-the-art approach to design and aligning with LEED standards, it will feature large, flexible floor plates of up to 60,000 square feet, high ceilings, and a biophilic design that increases occupant connectivity to the natural environment through maximum exposure of natural light, among other features.

The retailer’s heritage building’s original architecture will be protected. This includes restoration of the facades, the reopening of windows, as well as the return of showcases to their original state. Four tiered terraces will be created on the four green roofs of the office tower. The main entrance and tallest part of the tower will be on the de Maisonneuve Boulevard side.

Built in 1891, the former Morgan’s store was purchased by HBC in 1960 and renamed The Bay in 1972. It is located across from the prestigious Phillips Square and is considered one of the most iconic stores in HBC’s portfolio.

All components of the project will benefit from existing connections to Montreal’s metro system and the upcoming opening of the Réseau express métropolitain (REM)’s McGill station.

“RioCan is looking forward to the transformation of this iconic property to meet evolving consumer and office user expectations,” added Jonathan Gitlin, president and CEO, RioCan. “This highly attractive, transit-oriented site in the heart of Downtown Montreal will be revitalized and expanded with resilient uses and offer forward-thinking amenities driving value creation for the long-term.”

“We are reimagining the Hudson’s Bay retail experience in Downtown Montreal, creating a digitally-connected store with elevated service and a curated assortment to showcase the best of what Hudson’s Bay has to offer,” commented Iain Nairn, president and CEO of Hudson’s Bay. “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.”