By  on August 21, 2014

Saks Fifth Avenue has a growing appetite for real estate after years of pruning the fleet.

On Wednesday, Saks said it agreed to open a three-level, 107,000-square-foot store in Brickell City Centre in Miami, confirming a WWD report last May that it was keen on the site.

Meanwhile, Saks continues to actively negotiate for a site inside Brookfield Place in lower Manhattan, and plans to open seven stores in Canada, including two in Toronto, where Hudson’s Bay Co., the owner of Saks since last year, is headquartered.

“We are going to build a state-of-the art, fantastic Saks store,” Richard Baker, chairman and chief executive officer of HBC, said of the Miami site.

In Florida, Saks operates eight stores including two in Miami, in Bal Harbour Shops and the Dadeland Mall. Saks Fifth Avenue has 39 stores in the U.S., five international licensed stores and 78 Off 5th outlets.

It’s likely that Saks continues to close underperforming sites around the country over time, even as it eyes new locations. Saks has closed about 21 stores in the past decade, the most recent ones being in Dallas and Stamford, Conn. But it appears the tide has shifted toward openings.

“We have announced two so far in Canada. We have three other stores in progress, in Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Sarasota, Fla., and we have a lot of other great opportunities,” Baker said. “We don’t have any store closings planned.”

He’s considering up to seven openings in Canada. The Toronto sites include Queen Street, where Saks will carve out space in the Hudson’s Bay flagship, and Sherway Gardens.

Regarding the Miami store, which is slated to open in fall 2016, Marigay McKee, president of Saks Fifth Avenue, said: “In keeping with our strategy to take Saks Fifth Avenue to the single most fashionable and global shopping destination, we want to cater directly to our international clientele from this location. Brickell City Centre will provide access to the North and South American sophisticated and selective consumer in the internationally flavored Brickell neighborhood.”

Saks becomes the lead tenant in Brickell, a $1.05 billion, 5.4 million-square-foot mixed-use development under construction, which includes a 565,000-square-foot shopping center as well as office, residential, hotel, entertainment space and underground parking. The project will span 9.1 acres along South Miami Avenue between Sixth and Eighth Streets in the Brickell district of downtown Miami.

“Miami is a gateway for the international consumer and we know this buyer, understand their lifestyle and their demand for quality and luxury. We envision Brickell City Centre as the nexus of Miami’s cosmopolitan lifestyle and booming economic growth, and want to work with brands that are leaders in the luxury market,” said Stephen Owens, president of Swire Properties, which is developing the center. Whitman Family Development, developer of Bal Harbour Shops, is a partner in the project. Swire remains the primary developer, while Bal Harbour Shops has taken an equity stake and will bring its high-end retail expertise to help lease the shopping center.

“Bal Harbour Shops has a long and storied relationship with Saks Fifth Avenue,” said Matthew Whitman Lazenby, president and ceo of Whitman Family Development. “Saks’ continued growth in Miami is evidence of the continued demand for luxury retail in this market.”

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