Highland Park’s Saks closes
Updated: December 31, 2012 4:30PM
HIGHLAND PARK — The final day of 2012 also marked the finale for Highland Park’s Saks Fifth Avenue store, the largest retailer in Renaissance Place, a mixed use complex of stores, restaurants, a five-screen cinema, offices and apartments in the central business district.
Saks Fifth Avenue opened its 49,000-square-foot store in Renaissance Place in 2000 at a time when large clothing retailers had mostly disappeared from downtown shopping districts on the North Shore. In September, the retailer announced plans to close the under performing Highland Park store along with one in Austin, Texas on Dec. 31.
The firm said the Highland Park store employed about 60 sales associates. The closing leaves only one Saks Fifth Avenue store in the Chicago metropolitan area, the flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Saks closed its Old Orchard store in 2005 and its Oak Brook store in 2002. Saks will continue to operate its OFF 5TH store just south of the Lake Cook Road border in Northbrook.
Metzler Real Estate, which manages Renaissance Place at 1849 Green Bay Road, announced in September that it planned to pursue a new retail strategy for the property with the departure of Saks Fifth Avenue after the holiday shopping season.
“As part of the new retail strategy for Renaissance Place, we will be building a complementary mix of national, regional and boutique retailers, as well as quality restaurants to create a unique shopping experience that continues attracting visitors to downtown Highland Park,” said Don Wise, chief executive officer of Metzler Real Estate, at the time, predicting some exciting announcements in the coming months. The statement pointed to renewed commitments from existing tenants as well as Italian restaurant Moderno.
Since then, Moderno chefs John des Rosiers and Phil Rubino decided to close Moderno as of Dec. 22 and reopen in early January as Royce, featuring American cuisine using fresh, locally-grown organic and sustainable ingredients, based on feedback from diners.
“We think this is a perfect fit for the neighborhood, and I’m sure that Highland Park’s foodies will be eager to try a new dining experience that they themselves inspired,” said Christiane Fischer, general manager of Renaissance Place.
While Perchance Boutique founder Mary Liz Lehman opted to test the suburban market with a “pop-up” store in Renaissance Place during the holiday shopping season — pointing to the vibrancy of the downtown shopping district — she said last week the experiment had not worked out and she would close down on Dec. 31. The “pop-up” store was expected to remain open until March 31.
The Saks Fifth Avenue store space represents about 22 percent of the combined 217,800 square feet of multifamily, office, retail, restaurant and cinema space in Renaissance Place, located between Green Bay Road on the west, Second Street on the east, Elm Place on the north and Central Street business properties on the south. Renaissance Place is Highland Park’s single largest property taxpayer with an equalized assessed value of about $12.5 million, which translates into a market value of $37.5 million.