From Church to Anthropologie to Queen West Hub
Anthropologie’s fourth Toronto location is in a beautifully restored 19th century church at 761 Queen St W, just west of Bathurst (holy 50-foot ceilings!). Building owner and developer Daniel Rumack met us on site to explain how it’s become a destination in this hippest of TO locales.
R&B Properties president Daniel (right, with Northwest Atlantic broker Ira Bond) bought the 28k SF building four years ago. It was tenanted by nonprofit groups, and the plan was to let the leases expire and convert to retail. Designed by Quadrangle Architects, the $4M revamp included opening up the cathedral to create a two-storey space. “We couldn’t get full value out of the building unless we got multi-storey,” explains Ira, whom Daniel tasked with finding a lead tenant. He knew the church would be a great fit for Anthropologie. “They go for older, unique structures...And they fell in love the first day they saw it.”
It took 18 months to make a deal with Anthropologie parent Urban Outfitters, “a slow grind,” says Daniel. But the space, 11k SF on two floors—renovated over six months, a job that included restoring the exterior brick, wood floors and stained glass windows, plus electrical, mechanical and structural upgrades—gave them a “big blank canvas.” And the retailer filled it with gusto, putting displays and merchandise in every quirky nook and cranny. This isn’t Daniel’s first time working with a high-profile US retailer; he restored the CB2 building at Queen and Bathurst (below) and subsequently sold it to RioCan REIT.
Adjacent to Anthropologie at 761 Queen W, The Beer Store has moved in from its Queen and Markham location and occupies 2,500 SF. “There’s no bottle return here,” Daniel stresses, noting he wanted to avoid the “guys standing outside with shopping carts all day” situation that plagued the old store, which he also owns and will be redeveloping. A third, 1,800 SF space on the church’s eastern side is still available and awaiting conversion (Daniel says he sees another fashion retailer going in there), and there’s 9k SF on the top floor for office use.
Anthropologie opened right before Christmas, and it’s had an immediate impact, Daniel says. “It’s already an anchor on the block. It’s becoming a destination, and we’re seeing foot traffic increase.” The building has 110 feet of frontage along Queen, remarkable given a typical downtown storefront ranges from 10 to 20 feet at most. “This building was kind of a one-off in that regard." And having painstakingly restored most of the church, he tells us he's not looking to part with the property anytime soon. “I’m holding on to this one. I have a soft spot for it. It’s my baby.”