Long a retail anchor in downtown St. Paul, Macy’s closed its doors for the last time in March, leaving the downtown without a major retailer – and with big questions about what was to become of the 360,000-square feet of vacant retail space.
Perhaps we're a bit closer to finding out.
The Star Tribune in an exclusive Thursday morning reports that the real estate developer City Center Realty Partners is preparing to buy the five-story, 50-year-old building. The newspaper, through email and document requests, has learned that a founding partner of the San Francisco-based company wrote to a St. Paul economic development official in August that said Macy's had directed him to get in touch with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman “as we are the buyer of the building.”
City officials didn't have much to say in response to the Star Tribune, and City Center Realty Partners declined comment.
So the big questions remain, including: Whoever ultimately buys the property, what's to become of it?
City leaders say they view the property, which is still owned by Macy's, as a huge opportunity. Coleman has said he is not inclined to favor a new, single retail store. (One suggestion that has been floated is that Target move in.)
Coleman told MinnPost.com in January the loss of pedestrian traffic, sales and property tax, and retail swag is an opportunity to repaint the canvas that is downtown.
Coleman has said he thinks high-end office space could be part of a mixed-use project on the site, but he said he is inclined to leave that decision to market forces, not government. Coleman also said the city would not subsidize another retailer on that site.
Coleman in January said he didn't have a "wish list" for the site. "I think there's all kinds of opportunities. What I do have is a list of why that site is particularly attractive to any developer that wants to come along."
Coleman has said that the Macy's site will be part of a "rebirth" of downtown St. Paul, which has seen the construction of hundreds of housing units, a Lund’s grocery store, and a revitalized Union Depot. The Central Corridor light rail line is almost complete, which would take people very near the Macy's site, and work has begun nearby on a new minor league 7,000-seat baseball stadium for the St. Paul Saints.
Here's Coleman in March talking to the Pioneer Press about the site: