ST. PAUL, Minn. - Macy's plans to close its downtown store in St. Paul with a formal announcement coming Thursday morning.
Employees say management notified them Wednesday afternoon. They didn't want to be identified; fearful they would jeopardize their chances of landing a job at a different store. But employees told KARE 11 the meeting was tense with some workers crying as they heard the news.
"We're definitely losing some history," said Matt Kramer, President and CEO of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. "If you're a native Minnesotan you remember when it was Dayton's and then it became Marshal Fields, and then it became Macy's."
Macy's would not comment Wednesday, but workers say the store will close in the next few months.
"Absent an official announcement, it's pretty definitive when they're briefing their own employees," said Kramer. "My understanding is this is one of many closures they're having across the United States, stores that just weren't meeting their profit expectations."
Although disappointed, Kramer wasn't surprised. Macy's shrunk its retail space at the store located at 411 Cedar Street from five floors to three.
"For anyone who has been in the Macy's over the last couple years, you don't have to be a retail expert to say, it feels a little empty here," he said.
But he believes there is a silver lining in this dreary story, sighting almost two billion dollars in private and public investment in the city.
"There is going to be someone who will look at this site and say, where else can you get a shell of a building, not very complicated to tear down, bounded by a major thoroughfare on one side and light rail on the other," said Kramer.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman declined to comment Wednesday, but in a statement his office said it would comment after Macy's made an official announcement Thursday about the future of the building.
"Downtown's momentum has been building and the city sees great things ahead for this site," said the mayor's communications director Joe Campbell.
Campbell told KARE 11 the city is confident about the future.
"With light rail passengers soon to arrive at its door, the historic character of downtown, the development of the Lund's grocery store in the first level of the Penfield and the regional ballpark, this future of this site is bright," he said.
It's still too early to know what happen to the Macy's location, but Kramer hopes for more retail, maybe even a Target. He believes this is a good opportunity to strengthen the center city.
And because Macy's owns the building, Kramer says redevelopment could move faster than people think.
"We're losing a core part of downtown St. Paul, but with every change comes new opportunity," he said.
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