The multi-billion dollar youth-focused clothing company Urban Outfitters will be opening its first London store at the corner of Richmond and Oxford—the site of the old Blockbuster.
The new store, expected to take up 10,000 square feet, has been heralded as a sign of reinvestment in the downtown core.
“The addition of Urban Outfitters to the gateway of our downtown core is yet another indicator of the trend of retailers reinvesting in our downtown,” says Chris Kirwin, president of Colliers International’s London office. “The city of London has invested millions of dollars into the core with amenities such as the public library, John Labatt Centre and Covent Garden Market.”
Kirwin was responsible for organizing the deal between Urban Outfitters and Syl Carle, the former owner of the building.
“One of the biggest drivers of private investment was the waiving of multi-family development fees,” Kirwin says.“This [gave] private investors enough incentive to construct high-rise apartment buildings. Other economic incentives include low interest rates coupled with the rising housing costs.”
The deal has been met with praise from other local business owners on Richmond Row, who believe the presence of Urban Outfitters will bring more people shopping in the downtown core rather than at Masonville Place or White Oaks Mall.
“I think it will be a great addition to Richmond,” comments Sue Glass, owner of the Richmond Street clothing store Lolita. ”It will anchor the north end of the district and bring a lot of customers to the street that may never have ventured here before.”
Steve Lehman, owner of the clothing stores iN Fashion, JAS Shoes, and Life Styles, also believes Urban Outfitters will help revitalize downtown London.
“Having a highly regarded store anchor the northern end of the street will act as an additional draw for the population living in the north to shop our wonderful street,” Lehman says. “We have seen a re-growth of retail on Richmond Row and this is another example of why Richmond Row is an exciting place to shop.”
For Western students, this new Urban Outfitters is predicted to be an outlet for greater student involvement in the downtown core.
“As indicated by Shoppers Drug Mart, Jack Astor’s, and other national retailers, we firmly believe that students and the general public will support the addition of national & international retailers to the core,” Kirwin concludes.