Another move is being made in the ongoing retail chess match that is the Oak Street corridor.
With Barneys New York now across Rush Street in its new building, the old Barneys New York building is going to....
The French luxury retail is going to move from its nice but narrow location at 110 East Oak Street
and into a portion of the former Barneys New York building on Oak and Rush (25 East Oak Street, to be precise).
Hermes will be able to spread its wares across parts of the first two floors of the store, giving it a huge presence akin to the Prada store across Oak Street. One corner of Chicago will have French, Italian, and Arab flagship stores.
Hopefully Hermes will do a better job with its window displays than Prada does. For the last couple of years, Prada has only had one or two real showcase windows, while the rest are taken up by colors, patterns, or lame video screens.
This is great news for Oak Street, which has some serious vacancy problems. 25 East Oak is a big space to fill. Bringing in something to fill the Hermes space should be a little easier, even though it leaves vacant spaces at 58, 68, 72, 102, 110, and 112 -- all on the north side of the street, and only significantly interrupted by the intrepid Sarah's Pasteries (some of which I was given for Easter, thankyouverymuch).
But there is still the question of the Barneys New York's Chelsea Passage space. That building is not part of the Hermes deal, and we haven't heard of anyone nibbling at it just yet. But hopefully having Hermes as a neighbor will make it more attractive and easier to fill.
A couple of other minor notes -- There will have to be some sidewalk construction in front of 110 East Oak when Hermes moves. The store has its logo in brass in the concrete. Similarly, when it moves into 25 East Oak, Hermes will have to fill in the "Barneys New York" that is carved above the third floor corner window.
--Update: April 19, 2009--
According to Crain's Chicago Business , the amount of space that Hermes will take up in the old Barneys building will actually be less than the space it has now. The 110 East Oak Street location has 5,600 square feet, while Hermes is taking only 4,600 square feet of 25 East Oak.