Luxury shopping strip coming to Downtown Vancouver's Alberni Street

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Alberni Street

We’re already nicknamed Hollywood North for our booming film industry, but Vancouver is also looking to form its own, smaller version of the famous luxury retail quarter in Los Angeles.

Vancouver’s facelift to make Alberni and Thurlow streets a luxury row is halfway complete and will encompass a two-block stretch — stuffing Burrard to Bute streets with high-end retailers for Asian-driven money to be spent on expensive designer product.

Already opened retailers include global diamond mining company De Beers and New York-based designer Tory Burch, with rumoured fashion royalty brands like Prada, Gucci and Chanel in tow. French designer Christian Dior will also house its first free-standing clothing boutique in Canada inside the Hotel Vancouver.

The vision for Vancouver’s Alberni Street is to become a major upscale fashion hub, not unlike the two-mile stretch in Los Angeles known as Rodeo Drive. Vancouver’s version will be only two blocks long but the revitalization of making this downtown Vancouver neighbourhood upscale is just the beginning.

The Alberni facelift adds on to Vancouver’s fashion revolution which includes the Nordstrom flagship store that’s moving in to the former Sears Building on Robson which anchors the south end of Pacific Centre. They will also be joining a trio of existing luxury purse stores Hermès, Coach and Louis Vuitton that are a mainstay of the strip at the end of Burrard Street with Burberry and Escada bookending the block at the end of Thurlow.

Tiffany & Co. — one of the Alberni Street Plaza’s best-performing stores — is also in the mix, occupying the corner of Alberni and Burrard.

Charles Gauthier, President of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), says that, “It’s a street-level experience that I think people really crave in the downtown area. Alberni Street has the potential to become something that we’ve never seen before.”

“We have a segment of our population that has that kind of disposable income. But, at the same time, the luxury brands are quite aware that they need to offer introductory items to gain the kind of customer that maybe now doesn’t have the high income but maybe later down the road will.”

Gauthier says that the other consumer that will drive the luxury neighbourhood will be Asian tourists.

Unfortunately, this upscale facelift also means that already sky-high rents will become unaffordable for small businesses and the smaller collection of shops and restaurants that once occupied these streets are being pushed out.

The last business to vacate the building that Concord Pacific Ltd. purchased six years ago was the basement level Dollar Tree Canada store. A 7-Eleven and community college that once occupied the second floor of the building have also been pushed out.

Gauthier says that those are individual property owner decisions, however, and that the DVBIA has no say in determining or creating a universal luxury aesthetic for the neighbourhood.

Image Source: City of Vancouver

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Sarah Kucharski Contributor at Vancity Buzz covering everything from events to food to fashion.
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