Officials at the Fulton Street Macy’s will transform the emporium’s ugly parking garage into a work of art, after city officials, shoppers and residents demanded that the store’s shabby façade better fit into a Fulton Mall that’s evolving from low-end to upmarket retail.
Macy’s employees have also replaced poster-covered windows on Fulton Street with open displays, and installed new signage, awnings, lighting, carpeting and paint.
“They are showing Brooklyn consumers and their customers respect — absolute respect,” said Borough President Markowitz. “One of the major ways they did it was to really lighten it up in there, make it a much more positive shopping environment.”
In recent years, as the Fulton Mall ushered in new and higher-end development, Macy’s remained enough of an eyesore that local store and property owners spurned it, and Markowitz and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership held an intervention.
“The city brought some things to our attention and asked us to change things,” said Ed Goldberg, a vice president at Macy’s. “One was the façade of the garage, and we all agreed.”
Steve Powers and 12 other local artists will paint a mural on the Hoyt Street garage this summer, covering its Hoyt, Livingston, and Fulton Street facades with text featuring “community catchphrases” painted in a simple, easy-to-read font. The artists and locals will decide on the color scheme.
The decrepit parking lot is a physical reminder of Fulton Mall’s dark days. Back in the 1970s, when Abraham & Straus was in the flagship location, many big retailers, including J.W. Mays, EJ Korvette, and Martin’s, had abandoned Fulton Street — taking away the foot traffic that kept small businesses afloat.
The ripple effect made the mall even worse, as vacant storefronts became backdrops for gang fights, muggings and drug deals.
City officials have tried various urban renewal schemes over the years, but only in the last decade has a change finally taken hold.
Now, the future looks brighter — or, some opponents say, whiter — than ever, thanks to new arrivals such as Aeropostale, H&M, Filene’s Basement, and a Shake Shack.
“National and regional retailers are looking at Fulton Street as a place to do business,” said Michael Burke, chief operating officer of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “It will become the place where every Brooklynite will want to shop.”
Lissette Rojano, a City Tech student who grew up near Downtown, said she’s glad Macy’s has spruced up its look.
“Everything is finally changing for the better,” Rojano said. “This used to be an area that didn’t have too much class.”