For about two weeks now I’ve heard rumblings in Chicago’s Michigan Avenue retail community that Burberry is going to undergo a major transformation. Everyone has been saying that the current building (633 North Michigan Avenue) will be replaced with a new one.
Until now I’d filed it away under “interesting, must check on this later,” in part because one tipster didn’t want me to spill any beans prematurely. But today, someone else e-mailed me a link to an image on the intarweb that gives all the scuttlebutt credibility.
This is supposed to be an early drawing of the new Burberry store:
It’s very nice looking. The trademark Burberry tartan is a strong design element, and overall, the building follows the look of other recent retail flagship buildings erected around the world. Specifically, along Omotosand-Dori in Tokyo (see photos from our sister site, Tokyo Architecture Info).
The current Burberry Store is just two stories. From what I’ve been told by employees inside the Michigan Avenue store is that the entire shop will relocate somewhere nearby, then the current store will be razed, a new five-story store will take its place, and then the Burberry store will move back in.
All of this makes sense for a number of reasons.
- Burberry owns not only the current building, but the land it sits on. Having a two-story building in this location is a waste.
- With the economy in the state it’s in, now is a great time to embark on a construction project, if you have the money for it.
- Burberry has the money for it. Its revenue increases have been in the double digits, even though most other retail stores have been in the crapper.
- Chicago is one of the company’s “flagship” stores already, so it should be larger and more comprehensive than its regular stores. Burberry has outlet stores with more floor space than its Michigan Avenue digs.
Three weeks ago, Burberry filed paperwork with the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals asking if it could get rid of its loading bay, an item currently required for that building. This could be a precursor to construction starting, since every square inch of space will be needed for this project.
From what I’ve heard, Burberry wants to have the new flagship store open by 2013. That’s either wishful thinking, or an indication that a lot of work has already been done behind the scenes.
The big question now is, to where will Burberry temporarily move? Chicago Place (700 North Michigan Avenue) is out since it decommissioned its mall. Water Tower Place (845 North Michigan Avenue), and the Shops at North Bridge (520 North Michigan Avenue) would both probably love to have Burberry, but not if it’s only going to hang out for 18 months. Most of the space at the former CompostUSA site is full.
So, where do you think Burberry should hang out until its new store is completed?