For sale: Giant five-story former department store in heart of downtown, brick ’60s-style exterior, close to light rail and skyways, comes with 590-stall parking ramp. Adaptable for variety of uses. For more information, contact the St. Paul Port Authority.
That’s the word from the Port Authority, which on Tuesday purchased the vacant Macy’s store in downtown St. Paul from the Cincinnati-based retailer for $3 million.
The authority’s board quickly ratified its committee’s recommendation to swing the deal, which is expected to close on Wednesday.
The agency already has produced a full-color, four-page sales brochure for potential buyers that highlights the property’s prime location on the new light-rail line, its flexible zoning for “general business” and redevelopment options.
It also will provide a building analysis to prospective buyers, who Port Authority President Louis Jambois said would be given enough time to examine the property, identify potential uses for it and explore financing options.
“We are open to any combination of appropriate downtown uses,” including market-driven housing, commercial, office, entertainment and institutional uses, Jambois said.
So far, more than a dozen parties, both from the region and out-of-state, have expressed interest, he said.
If a future use hasn’t been determined after a year or so, the authority will likely demolish the building to give developers a chance to build from scratch, he said.
The 363,000-square-foot building, which covers a city block, opened in 1963 as a Dayton’s store. A $20.4 million city-subsidized renovation in 2001 kept it open for another decade but failed to reverse its sluggish retail performance. Macy’s closed it last spring.
The Port Authority first considered buying it last summer before private developers stepped forward with $4.25 million purchase agreements. The authority got back in the game after those deals fell through.
The authority, a development agency that operates independent of the city, estimates that redevelopment of three floors would cost about $21.3 million and that demolition would cost $16.5 million.
The building is centrally located with skyway connections, and sits a block from the Central Station light-rail stop — a fact that the sales brochure elaborates on with a map of the Central Corridor/Green Line, which begins service in June.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has said he hopes redevelopment of Macy’s will serve as “an economic engine for Wabasha Street.” His hopes for the site include Class A office suites with first- and second-floor entertainment amenities.