Beverly Hills’ historic Saks complex to get offices, apartments

Since 1938, Saks Fifth Avenue has been the go-to place for classic luxury shopping in Beverly Hills, a beacon on Wilshire Boulevard for the wealthy.

Now, the popular department store is set to move out to make way for a multi-use complex that could power a quiet stretch of Wilshire street near Rodeo Drive.

HBC, the parent company of Saks and Canadian retail giant Hudson’s Bay, on Thursday announced plans to transform the property around its historic Saks building into offices, retail and residential clusters. residence serving the Beverly Hills neighborhood. The aim is to revive the glitz that once made Wilshire Avenue the pinnacle of upscale shopping in Beverly Hills.

“In the 1930s, this was the retail hub of Beverly Hills,” says architect Leo Marmol, “the shining jewel on the mountaintop.”

Drawing of a mixed-use development at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills

This artist’s drawing shows the historic exterior of the Saks Fifth Avenue building in Beverly Hills, which will be restored as part of a proposed mixed-use development for the site. In the immediate future is a planned office building with a restaurant on the street. The project will also include apartments and retail.


Retailers on Grand Wilshire Avenue used to include department stores I. Magnin and Haggarty’s, luxury furniture store W & J Sloane and smaller boutiques catering to a affluent clientele.

In the years that followed, most of the activity moved northward in Marmol said the so-called Golden Triangle around Rodeo Drive. The goal was to “pull some beauty and elegance back to Wilshire Avenue and to reactivate the retail commercial vibrancy that those original historic buildings had.”

Saks plans to move its long-standing women’s store one block east into a building on Wilshire Avenue last occupied by department store Barneys New York in 2020. Saks leased the building. built in the 1990s and is renovating it with the planned move in. next year.

Saks’ separate menswear store (formerly the I. Magnin store) will remain in Wilshire and Bedford Drive.

HBC CEO Richard Baker said Beverly Hills Saks had the second highest performance of the chain’s 41 US stores, behind the flagship store in New York, HBC CEO Richard Baker said. “We consider this our second flagship store.”

But the company “is actually pretty frustrated with what’s happening at that end of town,” Baker said. “About six years ago, I decided we had to get in on our own” to help make Wilshire part of the city’s bustling shopping district that people will love to visit on foot.

Proposed mixed-use development plan drawing for historic 5th Saks Avenue

An artist demonstrates a proposed mixed-use development for the historic Saks Fifth Avenue building in Beverly Hills showing views from Wilshire Avenue and Bedford Drive. The corner building will house offices, with restaurants and shops across the street.


HBC Properties and Investments, the real estate arm of HBC, will seek city approval for a 3.4-acre development around the existing Saks women’s boutique to be completed in approximately five years, Douglas said. Adams, senior vice president of development said.

He declined to estimate how much the project would cost but acknowledged that such a venture would require hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Saks Women’s Store dates back to 1938, when the president of the Saks Fifth Avenue stores, Adam Gimbel, heralded its opening by declaring that Los Angeles had “become together with Paris and New York to become one of the style centers of the world”. Los Angeles shoppers will even get to see exclusive fashions before they hit the East Side, he said, “because of the earlier seasons that California prefers because of the good weather.”

The Beverly Hills store thrived and Saks continued to expand, starting with a more than five-story building in 1939 that remains the centerpiece of the store. Although the Saks estate is not an official landmark, the architects behind its design are among the most lauded in LA.

Parkinson & Parkinson’s Company – an architectural design heavyweight led by the father and son team John and Donald Parkinson who created Los Angeles City Hall, Union Station and Bullock’s Wilshire department store – has designed the first Saks building at Wilshire and Peck Drive.

A rendering showing the gardens and seating at the planned development of the Saks Fifth Avenue site.

An artist sketch shows the gardens and seating at the planned development of the Saks Fifth Avenue site.


Paul R. Williams, who designed commercial buildings including the Beverly Hills hotel and the homes of many celebrities like Frank Sinatra, created the 1939 addition and Saks interiors, Marmol said.

Saks wanted Williams to design the interiors because “he caters to the very elite, has a delicate sensibility when it comes to private homes for the rich and famous,” says Marmol, and will make the store feel like a good home, where shopping doesn’t seem to be commercial. experience.

Williams gave Saks the atmosphere of an expensive mansion and designed each area to be semi-enclosed, minimizing distractions for customers, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy.

The bathrooms are in subdued luxury, illuminated by a mixture of indirect lights and small hidden floodlights aimed at clothing, an unusual tactic for a department store. Most of the clothing is stored out of sight, with only samples on display.

Following in the footsteps of Williams and Parkinsons is “incredibly terrifying,” said Marmol, whose firm Marmol Radziner is working on the new design.

The plan calls for the conversion of buildings dating back to the 1930s into multiple uses, including shops seen as complements to the Saks brand, offices for rent and a private Saks club.

The club “is not intended to be a major entertainment spot,” says Adams, but rather a place where members can socialize over food and drink, visit a spa or get some work done. shared workspace. It will reflect “the Saks shopper and her desires,” he said.

Saks’ one-story shoe store in Wilshire and Bedford Drive, a 1990s addition, will be demolished to make way for an office building.

A drawing showing al fresco dining at the proposed Saks Fifth Avenue project.

A rendering artist shows what picnicking might look like on the Peck Drive side of a planned mixed-use development at the historic Saks Fifth Avenue site in Beverly Hills. The proposed project will include offices, houses, restaurants and shops.


Another office structure will be built at Wilshire and Peck Drive, on a parking lot next to the former Barneys store, for a total of 140,000 square feet of office space in the complex. The site is a few blocks from a Metro subway station scheduled to open in 2025.

The parking lot will be moved underground and the plastic yards behind the Saks and Barneys buildings will be developed with shops, restaurants and two apartment buildings containing a total of 68 units. The company said no apartments will be subsidized for low-income tenants, but HBC Properties intends to contribute replacement fees to the city’s affordable housing fund.

Apartment dwellers likely include local drummers more interested in urban living, Adams said. “We felt it was definitely necessary to move out, long term Beverly Hills residents selling their homes because they wanted to stay in town under a different circumstance.”

The aim of the developers is to make the Saks complex work day and night with shops and restaurants. Among them are rooftop dining options, a hallmark of the early years when popular Los Angeles restaurant Alexander Perino served lunch, dinner and cocktails atop Saks.

Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills

Saks Fifth Avenue, one of the most popular department stores in Beverly Hills, is about to move out to make way for a complex.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Baker hopes the change will also heal the Saks’ relationship with residents to the south because “the view from the back is really unpleasant,” he said. “It wasn’t originally thoughtfully built for the people living behind us.”

SBC’s goal is to enhance the Saks blocks in a way that activates the streetscape in Wilshire and inspires other property owners to do the same. In an elegant way, of course.

“We don’t want to be a revolution,” Baker said. “We want to be transformative and do the right thing for our neighbors and Saks Fifth Avenue.” Beverly Hills’ historic Saks complex to get offices, apartments

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