Kingswood plans to build new retail centre on Alberni Street plaza

Project would cause the removal of cherry blossom trees and would cater to luxury retailers not yet in the Vancouver market

Kingswood Capital has not yet received its permits to remove cherry blossom trees or its building permit for its planned retail building

Kingswood Capital Corp. plans to build a two-storey, two-store retail building and replace cherry blossom trees in what has been a quiet plaza between Alberni and West Georgia streets for the past 30 years.

The City of Vancouver granted Kingswood a development permit for the new building in December, and Kingswood has since applied for a permit to remove the trees. It has yet to apply for a building permit.

The controversial proposal last year spurred a social-media campaign to save the plaza, but no public hearing was required for the change.

“People think it’s a public plaza but it’s not,” said John Greer, the City of Vancouver’s assistant director of development services. “It’s a plaza on private property.”

Kingswood owner Joe Segal said he plans to occupy the 6,200-square-foot building with international luxury tenants who are not yet in the Vancouver market.

That move would jibe with the strategy that other nearby property owners are following.

“It’s going to be a super first-class, outstanding building,” Segal told Business in Vancouver. “It will be a credit to the city and the street.”

A smaller thoroughfare between West Georgia and Alberni streets will remain next to the Grosvenor tower at 1040 West Georgia Street, mid-block between Burrard and Thurlow streets.

Kingswood bought that building from Grosvenor a few years ago.

Other construction in the area, which also targets luxury retail tenants, includes Bentall Kennedy’s 745 Thurlow Street tower and Concord Pacific Developments’ rebuilding of the Carlyle on the southeast corner of Alberni and Thurlow streets.

Luxury tenants have been signed at each of those complexes but only Swiss menswear brand Strellson has so far been willing to go public.

It will occupy about 2,100 square feet of space on the Alberni side of 745 Thurlow Street.

Remaining space in that building includes two units, which total about 5,500 square feet, on the Thurlow side of the building.

Chapters Indigo confirmed to BIV that it is interested in potentially occupying the 16,000-square-foot second floor of 745 Thurlow Street on a temporary basis until it finds a new permanent downtown Vancouver location in the 30,000-square-foot range.

That new bookstore would be rebranded Indigo as the company is transitioning all of its current Chapters stores to that new brand.

High-end retailers such as De Beers and Tory Burch already occupy space at the Carlyle and at least one more tenant has been signed, said Northwest Atlantic (BC) Broker Inc. principal Brodie Henrichsen, who helped close each of those deals.

Luxury stores such as Burberry, Escada, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Montblanc and others already are in the area. This spring, a 7,000 square foot Christian Dior flagship store is set to open at the nearby Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

Henrichsen said high-end retailers such as Prada, Moncler and David Yurman have been looking at space in the market but he could not confirm any deals with those companies.

Another retailer that has been looking at space is Versace.

“Versace would make sense for Alberni Street given that they opened Versace Home in Gastown,” he said.•