Macy’s is closing its flagship store in Water Tower Place, creating a huge vacancy on the Magnificent Mile during an already challenging time for retail landlords.
The 170,000-square-foot store in the North Michigan Avenue vertical mall will close after a clearance sale that starts this month and will run for 8 to 12 weeks, Macy’s said Tuesday.
“After careful consideration, Macy’s has decided to close our Water Tower Place location,” Macy’s said in a statement. “This closure is part of the company’s strategy to right-size its store fleet, announced in early 2020. The decision to close a store is always a difficult one, and Macy’s Water Tower Place has been honored to serve its customers on the Magnificent Mile for 45 years.”
The closure will leave the big department store space vacant for the first time since the eight-story mall opened in 1975 with Marshall Field’s as the anchor tenant. The Marshall Field’s name disappeared in 2006 after a series of ownership changes and it has operated under the Macy’s name since then.
Macy’s departure adds to the growing list of vacant commercial space amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Empty stores, bars and restaurants could take years to fill, according to industry experts.
Waves of business closures have followed a virtual shutdown of Chicago’s downtown economy in March because of the public health crisis, as well as multiple incidents of property damage and looting on the Mag Mile and other areas of the city after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.
But Macy’s pullback in Chicago, and throughout the country, predated the pandemic.
In 2019, Macy’s sold the historic Medinah Temple building at 600 N. Wabash Ave., previously home to a Bloomingdale’s home furnishings store, for $24.25 million, according to Cook County property records.
The buyer of that building is Al Friedman, who redeveloped the Chicago landmark for the Bloomingdale’s store 16 years earlier. Friedman Properties has yet to announce any tenants for the space.
Macy’s has about 200 employees in the Water Tower Place store, Schwartz said. Regular, non-seasonal employees will have the chance to fill positions at other area Macy’s stores, she said. Those who aren’t hired will qualify for severance packages that include outplacement resources, spokeswoman Andrea Schwartz said in a statement.
“Macy’s is committed to the greater Chicago community. We will continue to serve our customers at Macy’s on State Street as well as in a number of suburban locations such as Old Orchard, Oakbrook, Woodfield, Orland Park and Hawthorn Court or online,” the company’s statement said.
Water Tower Place, at 835 N. Michigan Ave., is owned by Brookfield Property Partners, the second-largest owner of U.S. malls. The property’s other vacancies include two spaces that Lettuce Entertain You closed after 27 years. The restaurant group in June announced the closure of Foodlife — credited by some as Chicago’s first food hall — and Mity Nice Bar & Grill.