Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Honest Ed’s store — famous for its cheesy outdoor signage and low prices — has been quietly put up for sale

Honest Ed’s, the Toronto landmark known as much for its cheesy outdoor signage as its low prices, is up for sale.

Sources confirmed to the National Post that the famous Bloor Street store has been put on the block, along with some surrounding land also owned by the Mirvish family, and several real estate companies have been invited to make an offer in a transaction that could be worth about $100-million. This was later confirmed by the store’s long-time manager Russell Lazar.
He opened his store on a Saturday, and watched a torrent of customers pour in — the store was mobbed
“It never really [publicly] hit the market,” said one real-estate source with knowledge of the offer, which appears to have been kept deliberately quiet. Colliers International is said to represent the listing.
The store — impossible to miss with its high-wattage outdoor marquee and schmaltzy posters like “Honest Ed attracts squirrels! At these prices they think he’s nuts!” — was first opened in 1948 by Ed Mirvish. His seed capital of $212 came from cashing in his wife’s insurance policy.

FileInside Honest Ed's discount store.
“He opened his store on a Saturday, and watched a torrent of customers pour in — the store was mobbed. It was the opening day of Honest Ed’s,” notes the retailer’s website.

From the store, the Mirvishes expanded and diversified their empire and today operate the most prominent company in the Canadian live-theatre business, Mirvish Productions.

The Honest Ed’s store has 160,000 square feet, but the total development being sold is said to encompass about 350,000 square feet, according to sources. The area around the store is known as Mirvish Village and features more upscale boutiques, book stores, art galleries and restaurants that are more in tune with the surrounding upscale Annex neighbourhood.

PETER REDMAN / NATIONAL POSTDavid Mirvish at Honest Ed's store at Bloor St. West and Bathurst at the end of a fashion show that was part of the 60th anniversary celebrations for the famous discount store.
Mr. Mirvish’s son David, who now owns the properties, told the National Post on Monday that nothing has been sold. He would not comment about his holdings in the area or how the various properties have been assembled.

Brent Foster/National Post
Honest Ed Mirvish's picture is shown in his office in Toronto, Ontario Wednesday July 11, 2007. 
“We are about to celebrate our 65th anniversary and I’ll talk about that,” said Mr. Mirvish, who worked alongside his father running the family business, until Ed Mirvish died in 2007.

“I’m planning it for 2014 and for 2015, if you would like to talk about that.”

Mr. Mirvish said there have always been rumours about the property and the land — a prime location on the subway line — being for sale.

“Everything is on the market with me …  you never know what will happen in the future,” said Mr. Mirvish. “For the moment, we are planning our anniversary.”

The sale of the land and property would come as Mr. Mirvish forges ahead with plans for a massive condo project further south in Toronto, on King Street West.

In October 2012, Mr. Mirvish and acclaimed Toronto-born architect Frank Gehry unveiled plans for what has been referred to as “three iconic towers” in the theatre district.

Courtesy of Gehry International, Inc.
Courtesy of Gehry International, Inc.View from the south, Courtesy of Gehry International, Inc -- An artist's rendering of the condominium and arts complex for King Street West in Toronto designed by Frank Gehry to replace Mirvish's Princess of Wales theatre.
The condo towers are to be 80 storeys high and the project includes an art gallery, retail space and studios for the Ontario College of Art and Design University.

Peter J. Thompson/National Post
Honest Ed's, located at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor Street in Toronto, Monday July 15, 2013. 
The plan is in the municipal-approval process.

Toronto condo developer Brad Lamb said any buyer planning to purchase the Honest Ed’s site for a multi-family residential project couldn’t expect to be allowed anything like the density that is planned for the King Street project.

“They’ve opened the flood gates on King Street,” said Mr. Lamb.

“What will happen [in The Annex] is someone like RioCan [a retail landlord] will probably partner with an office developer or condo developer, and we’re talking about a 10- to-12-storey development.”

Mr. Lamb said he hadn’t heard anything about the sale of the Mirvish property but said he would welcome any change to the area.

“It would be great,” said Mr. Lamb, about the Honest Ed’s site. “That thing is an eyesore.”

Chris Bolin/National Post
 People line up in a catwalk in Toronto at Honest Ed's in November 2000 for the annual turkey giveaway.
CNW Group/Toronto Hydro Corporation file
CNW Group/Toronto Hydro Corporation fileToronto's Honest Ed's.
FileInside Honest Ed's discount store.
FileInside Honest Ed's discount store.
Peter J. Thompson/National Post
The iconic Honest Ed's, located at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor Street in Toronto, Monday July 15, 2013.
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