The downtown St. Paul community has just learned it will be losing a long time fixture in its landscape. Despite a long and storied past at this location, the huge downtown Macy’s off Wabasha has long been considered a sort of sore spot for shopping. The store had not been performing well despite recent remodels and upgrades to the store. A formal announcement of the store’s closure is expected to come tomorrow, January 3rd.
Macy’s, which as many older folks may remember, was once the heralded Dayton’s, and then briefly Marshall Field’s. The store, while cherished by many in the community, continued to underperform. In 2001 the city gave a $6 million subsidy and Dayton’s chipped in $12 million to remodel the store, to help improve its image and get it back on the right track. In exchange for the facelift, the store was contracted to stay open to 2012. With 2013 upon us, the store owner has now decided to shut down the location with no potential for being penalized.
With the store shutting down, so will the long loved The River Room, open since 1947, a restaurant within the St. Paul store. Downtown workers on break will no longer have the option of a mid-afternoon shopping spree to go with lunch at Macy’s.
Despite how fondly local residents talk about the location, it was quite evident the St. Paul Macy’s best days were behind it. Even during big advertised events like, “Macy’s Week of Wonderful,” the store still didn’t draw the traffic one might expect. The store had a decadent feel to it, as if everyone knew eventually this day was going to come.
Wading through the disappointed residents of downtown St. Paul, one also needs to consider all those who just were informed they no longer have jobs. Store employees, restaurant employees, they all start off 2013 with some of the worst news one can get, “You’re being laid off.”
Macy’s shutting down stores in Minnesota is not something uncommon; just last year the Macy’s owned Bloomingdale’s at America’s biggest shopping center, the Mall of America, shut down it’s multi-level location because of years of underperforming sales.
The soon to be vacant Macy’s spot in St. Paul has hopes of selling the space to a future tenant. But selling out the five-story windowless building that spans an entire city block will be no easy task. The old building is beloved for its history, for being one of the last standing department stores in St. Paul, a relic to the golden days when department stores reigned supreme, before the days of Wal Mart and Target.
Speaking of Target, this location could be a prime opportunity for them to install an urban St. Paul location.