Long before the others know it or bring it to the printed word. Case in point:
When Halls Plaza vacates its ritzy Country Club Plaza digs for their soon-to-be renovated new home at Crown Center downtown, their former home is slated to undergo an extensive remodel of 18-24 months, and ropen as….RESTORATION HARDWARE!
That’s right, go ahead and rub your eyes, it’s true.
Restoration Hardware has 74 retail stores and 13 outlet stores in 30 states, DC and Canada. Kansas City’s Plaza Restoration Hardware store has apparently been a very profitable location and is about to become one of the company’s flagship locations.
They have been enormously successful while claiming less than one percent of the total $143 billion home furnishings market share.
My first thought, Halls location is just too big.
And as I understand it, RH plans to take the entire space.
On further examination though into the company’s strategy, size does matter and RH likes it big.
Today, they have what they consider “flagship stores” in Boston, Buckhead, GA. West Hollywood, Corte Madera, CA, Greenwich, CT, Houston and New York
The Boston location is 40,000sq ft., New York is 19,000, Buckhead, 34,000 (where they took over the former ESPN Zone building) and Houston weighs in at 25,000sq ft.
So Halls would fit right in.
Dissecting it further, I thought, renovating the Hall’s facility is just too big a project and the rumored renovation schedule I was told about seemed much, much too lengthy. And I know a thing or two about commercial real estate development.
But a closer look at the Boston flagship store that opened this year, shows that site took two years of planning and renovations. It was done in an 1860’s historic building, now officially called The Gallery at The Historic Museum of Natural History.
In Boston, “The architects stripped back decades of structural modifications, such as auxiliary mezzanine levels and pedestrian elevators, to open up the 40,000 square foot, making the original vaulted ceiling visible from 70 feet below. It’s a dramatic two-year transformation of the historic landmark that is intended to bring a new type of retail experience to the Back Bay.”
The more I’ve looked into it, the more it appears totally in line with what Restoration Hardware has done to date in other premier stores even though Boston is the largest effort to date.
Here’s the level of effort RH seems to be willing invest to make the space just right;
“Consulting old photographs and architectural drawings, the designers took out mezzanines inserted by previous tenants, removed an elevator bank that blocked the central axis through the building, and refurbished original details. Most significant, they opened up the atrium to recapture views from the ground floor all the way to the gilded, coffered ceiling. Gliding up and down that 70-foot-high space is the store’s pièce de résistance: a glass elevator modeled after the one in Los Angeles’s 1893 Bradbury Building, another of Gary Friedman’s favorite landmarks. Friedman is the Chairman and co-CEO of RH.”
The firm plans to open stores in other historic buildings across the country. “Our design point of view comes from an architectural perspective—it’s all about balance, symmetry, and proportion,” Friedman says. “When we have the opportunity to harmonize with great architecture, there’s no better way to present our brand.”
“The bottom line is this, today we have an assortment with revenue potential that could be more than three times as large as our business today, but the assortment is flat in our undersized real estate portfolio. The real estate transformation into our full line design gallery concept is the key to unlocking the value of our assortment, and it remains our highest priority.”
Less than 20 percent of RH’s inventory is available in store today.
The goal is for the flagship stores to have it all plus a full in-house design service.
I talked to Gayle Terry, Marketing Director at Highwoods to get her comment and she, of course, refused to make a statement but did add some off the record comments that I took into consideration.
My prediction; look for it to be announced in 6 months unless KC Confidential forces the statement to come out earlier.
Regardless, you heard it here first.