We’re not losing the Macy’s building. Yet

After watching so much of our architecture destroyed forever in the ’70s for the sake of urban renewal, it’s hard to imagine anyone would entertain the thought that we’d allow a building like this to be shuttered or, worse, to end up as rubble.

Photo: Minneapolis Historical Society MPR file photo/Brandt Williams

The 1902 Dayton’s Department Store building is never going to see its glory days again. At least not as a department store. It’s more than half empty now.

Dayton’s, of course, sold out to Marshall Field’s, which sold out to Macy’s, which struggles to compete in a Target world.

Everyone knew the third quarter results for Macy’s would be bad. Real bad. But the question was whether it would be bad enough for Macy’s to close the store. And if that happened, what would become of such a gorgeous building?

So it was a bit of surprise when the store appeared in the company’s press release announcing those third quarter results.

Based on a successful collaboration on Macy’s previously announced Brooklyn store redevelopment project, the company has engaged Tishman Speyer in an expanded relationship to advise and support the company’s senior management team in identifying and advancing potential store redevelopment projects nationwide. The company may request Tishman Speyer to participate in bidding for certain of these projects. In all cases, a third party will be used to manage the bidding and negotiations process.

The company has begun a process to explore joint ventures or other deal structures with third parties to redevelop Macy’s flagship real estate assets in Manhattan (Herald Square), San Francisco (Union Square), Chicago (State Street) and Minneapolis (downtown Nicollet Mall) in a manner that maintains a robust Macy’s retail store presence while also bringing alternative use into those buildings; this exploration could expand to include other assets, including mall-based properties, to the extent opportunities are available.

The company will continue to pursue selected real estate dispositions and monetize assets in instances where the business is simultaneously enhanced (such as the recently announced real estate sales of underutilized portions of properties in Brooklyn and downtown Seattle) or where the value of real estate significantly outweighs the value of the retail business (such as the recent sale of Macy’s stores in Cupertino and downtown Pittsburgh).

That the Minneapolis building would be mentioned in the same sentence as the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square is about as positive an indication of having a future as it gets. Nobody would ever think of knocking down the miracle on 34th street.

What new joint venture the company has in mind for its “flagship real estate assets” is anyone’s guess. But today’s announcement should allay the immediate fears that surrounded Star Tribune’s writer Rick Nelson’s recent column lamenting its possible demise.

“It may be a dwindled shell of its former self, but as Nicollet Mall’s sole department store, it’s all the city has,” he wrote.