The Harley-Davidson store on North Michigan Avenue will close at the end of this year, with hopes to open a smaller shop on Navy Pier.
Store owner Fox Powersports, which plans to open a motorcycle dealership and Harley shop near Wrigley Field by late 2018, is in talks to lease about 2,000 square feet at Navy Pier, said Fox President Diane Maher.
That would be about one-third the size of the Michigan Avenue retail space at the base of the Ritz-Carlton Residences. Fox Powersports, a division of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Fox Motors, also has Harley dealerships in Glenview and Libertyville.
A Navy Pier shop would help bridge the yearlong gap between the Mag Mile closure and the Wrigley opening, Maher said.
"Depending on how it goes, we would consider staying there long-term along with Wrigleyville," Maher said of Navy Pier. "We really want to try Navy Pier. It's a great tourist destination, and we sell a lot of Harley-Davidson T-shirts to tourists. The size (of the Michigan Avenue space) is just a little too big for what we need."
It will be the second Harley retail shop to shutter in the area in recent years. A different franchise owner had a Harley shop at Rush and Ohio streets, in a space now occupied by burger chain Shake Shack, before the Michigan Avenue store opened in 2015.
The landlord, an affiliate of the Terra Foundation for American Art, has hired Anthony Campagni and Elan Rasansky of brokerage RKF to find a new tenant for the Harley space.
The Harley space includes a 576-square-foot entrance and 5,656 square feet on the second floor, according to RKF.
Second-floor space is more challenging to lease, but it comes at a significant discount: an asking rate of $150 per square foot. That's a fraction of the $400 to $600 per-square-foot asking rents for ground-floor space on the avenue, Campagni said.
"We believe we're offering value for a tenant that wants to achieve brand recognition by being on Michigan Avenue," Campagni said.
The vacancy comes at a time of uncertainty for many retailers, many of which are reducing store counts amid the rise of e-commerce. Yet some companies are opening splashy flagships in order to better distinguish their brands.
Just across Erie Street to the south, Starbucks plans to convert a four-level Crate & Barrel shop into a Roastery flagship by 2019. At 43,000 square feet, it will be the world's largest Starbucks. Less than a half-mile south, Apple is set to open its riverside store Oct. 20.