LOS ANGELES — Brooks Brothers is going big in Beverly Hills.

The retailer has signed a lease for the largest unit on Rodeo Drive for a Southern California flagship, a space left vacant by Tommy Hilfiger three years ago.

The location at 468 Rodeo Drive is set to open in September, in time to commemorate the retailer’s 185th anniversary.

The deal lets Hilfiger out of a 10-year lease that was due to expire in 2006. Hilfiger opened its flagship there in November 1997 but shut down in 2000 when the company shifted strategy away from expensive locations. Hilfiger also shuttered its New Bond Street megastore in London.

At 22,000 square feet, few companies were interested in biting off annual rents that range between $240 and $250 a square foot, according to real estate sources. The site has sat vacant since Hilfiger left and observers thought it would ultimately be split up between tenants.

But officials said Brooks Brothers will take the full space and plan to leave much of the neo-classic architecture intact, noting the design of the store fits its image. Total store renovation, which would include a fresh coat of paint, fixtures and furnishings, will range between $4 million and $6 million, according to sources.

Industry sources estimate the store could pull in sales of between $12 million and $15 million its first year.

Much of the assortment configuration has yet to be worked out, but representatives said the majority of the space — between 80 and 85 percent — will be devoted to men’s and boys’ while between 15 and 20 percent will house women’s wear.

"We feel very strongly about Los Angeles and we feel Rodeo Drive is the premiere location in the world for retail," said Mark Shulman, chief operating officer, noting that Brooks Brothers’ first sales office in Los Angeles opened in 1939 with Fred Astaire and Clark Gable as clients. "This will be a major flagship for us."

It will be the retailer’s third store locally, after South Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles and Century City. Other locations in Southern California include San Diego and Palm Desert. Northern California stores include San Francisco and Palo Alto.

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