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With Macy’s Gone, What’s Next for a Historic Building?

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(AP) - The Macy's department store in downtown St. Louis is shutting its doors for good on Tuesday. 

The retailer announced the closing in June of a central-city location that had been open under various names for nearly 90 years. At its height, the 189,000-square-foot department store occupied seven floors of the Railway Exchange Building on Olive Street. 

(Photo/KMOX/Michael Calhoun)

(AP) – The Macy’s department store in downtown St. Louis is shutting its doors for good on Tuesday.

The retailer announced the closing in June of a central-city location that had been open under various names for nearly 90 years. At its height, the 189,000-square-foot department store occupied seven floors of the Railway Exchange Building on Olive Street.

(Photo/KMOX/Michael Calhoun)

calhoun2 Michael Calhoun
A native St. Louisan, Michael Calhoun grew up listening to the Voice...
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - St. Louis has joined the ranks of St. Paul, Minn. and Houston, Tx. as cities in which Macy’s has just closed the doors of a downtown department store.

In Houston, they reacted by launching a downtown retail task force. KMOX News asked Kevin Farrell, Economic Development Director with the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis, what the reaction will be here.

“We certainly have been courting retailers,” he said, but added that the one million square-foot Railway Exchange Building needs a comprehensive plan for redevelopment.

He said the finished product will have to involve a mix of residential space, office space, and an expansion of the tech start-up hub that is currently there, along with possibilities like a hotel or data center.

Macy’s still has a couple of years left on the lease, which Farrell says gives the owner a bit of breathing room. The prime signage opportunities on top could help recruitment efforts.

The ground floor, he said, must remain retail, as it has been for a century as Famous-Barr and Macy’s.

One option would be to subdivide the large floor plate for multiple, smaller retailers.

What about the oft-mentioned “T”-word?

“I think we would love to see a City Target,” Farrell tells KMOX News, adding that there had been conversations in the past with the company, which, at the time, wanted to see how its original crop of ‘City Target’ concept stores would perform.

Chicago’s City Target is in a former department store building designed by architect Louis Sullivan. Portland’s is also in a former downtown department store building, which Farrell says visually looks a lot like the Railway Exchange.

If Target is the first or second most-requested retailer downtown, Farrell says a round-the-clock pharmacy is the other one.

“I’m frankly surprised that we haven’t been able to attract either a CVS or a Walgreens at this point,” he said.  “I think we’re more than ready for that.”

Stay tuned for more from Farrell, including an update on the downtown streetcar proposal.

KMOX © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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