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Demolish or reuse? Redevelopment moving ahead on St. Paul Macy's building

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It's not clear what will ultimately become of the former St. Paul Macy's store, previously occupied by Marshall Fields and Dayton's, but it is becoming all but certain that it will no longer be a large vacant building in the middle of the downtown area.

The Pioneer Press reports the St. Paul Port Authority's credit committee unanimously voted to support a $3 million purchase of the Wabasha Street building and its adjoining 550-car parking ramp. The Star Tribune reports the full Port Authority will vote on the purchase next Tuesday, with a closing on the property set for later this month.

The Port Authority indicated its current plan is to hold on to the property until a qualified buyer with a solid redevelopment proposal shows up. If that doesn't happen by the time the snow flies (again) next winter, Port Authority documents show the agency would "create a shovel-ready site for a future development, meaning demolition." Port Authority President Louis Jambois said the parking ramp generates revenue that could shore up the cost of holding the property.

Port Authority estimates show that reusing the existing building would cost about $21.3 million. The demolition scenario would cost about $16.5 million.

The Star Tribune quotes said Lee Krueger, the Port Authority’s senior vice president of real estate and development.

“We are very optimistic about the possibilities” of the site, he told the committee. “A lot of people think the timing is right,” he added, citing development downtown including the arrival of a light rail line, the Saints ballpark in Lowertown, and a planned expansion to the Children’s Museum.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has said he’d like to see the site replaced with an office building that includes first- and second-floor amenities to enhance the downtown restaurant scene.

Macy's closed the store closed in March 2013. The 2.25-acre site is valued at $4 million.

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