Will Macy’s Build a Herald Square Skyscraper?
How will that change The World’s Largest Store?
Reporting by David Stone
Taking into account the building already filling 34th Street between 7th Avenue and Broadway, Macy’s skyscraper may challenge the rooftop of the Empire State Building.
That icon’s just a little over a block away.
Why build a Macy’s skyscraper in Herald Square?
Like it’s retail theme, this too is all about the money. But here, it’s about grabbing a slice of the office market. And reality being what it is, Macy’s needs to do something to counter faltering store sales.
Some of this was obvious at Christmas for anyone hitting Herald Square for the superstore’s seasonal windows. The good news: there weren’t tons of tourists clogging up the space.
And for Macy’s, the bad news: there weren’t tons of tourists clogging up the space.
Technically speaking, the 2019 windows sucked.
Only mind numbing budget cuts get results like disappointed visitors gaped at. That and bad judgment. Who saves by amputating its most attractive feature?
Macy’s building a skyscraper over Herald Square makes more sense, however.
In the neighborhood
34th Street is not the retail juggernaut you expect with so many tourists looking way, way up at the Empire State Building and braving the perfume fog on Macy’s main floor.
One long block west is Penn Station, awash with commuters praying that neither the MTA nor New Jersey Transit will screw them today. And that’s the upside. Opposite Penn is the closest New York has to a skid row, these days.
There have been improvements, but Macy’s remains a prince among relative paupers in the neighborhood.
Macy’s in trouble
The marketplace is changing, and Macy fights for viability in a universe going online.
Malls find that anchor tenants no longer warrant sweetheart deals because they attract so much traffic. Many of Macy’s stores now underperform, and they say they are closing 125.
And that means laying off thousands… and turning to other forms of revenue.
Who knows what this means for Herald Square? A Macy’s glass skyscraper changes the external character of the store, but what about the traffic restricted area out front?
How will the area’s laid back character react? How much more sunlight can Midtown sacrifice to glass soaring upward without impoverishing the streets?
Although plans will be chewed and re-chewed between developers and the City, a skyscraper will be built if Macy’s needs it. And few, if any, alternatives exist.
Retail’s not coming back, but the hunger for office space in Manhattan seems ravenous.
Change is coming for Herald Square. Wise, civic minded judgment makes the best companion.
Categories: New York City