Summer clearance: Macy’s selling part of Fulton Mall store to developer

Steve Powers’s love letter to Brooklyn is going up on the ugly parking lot next to Macy’s in Downtown. It should be finished soon.
Community Newspaper Group / Kate Briquelet

A big change is in-store for Fulton Mall.

Macy’s has inked a deal with a developer to sell part of its storied Downtown department store and the neighboring block that houses its parking garage, which the retail giant claims will help it pay to spruce up the run-down emporium.

“In recent years, it has become clear that our Fulton Street store requires major improvements in order to serve the Brooklyn of today, as well as future generations of customers,” said Terry Lundgren, the company’s chief executive officer and chairman.

The retailer says it will move its entire operation into the first four of building’s nine floors, and sell floors five and up to Manhattan development firm Tishman Speyer, which plans to add 10 floors of high-end office space to the property.

Tishman Speyer — which also owns and runs Rockefeller Center — will shell out $170 million for its stake in the building, and put another $100 towards Macy’s renovation over three years, according to a release.

The department store says it will use the extra cash to remodel its entire retail operation, including a face-lift for its street entrance, a makeover for the restrooms, and new elevators and escalators.

What that means for the future of the store’s historic interior details — such as the ornate art deco elevator doors, which were designed in the 1920s by iconic department-store architecture firm Starrett and Van Vleck — is unclear, though Macy’s claims it will preserve “key architectural elements” of the building’s exterior.

Tishman Speyer has not announced its plans for the five-story garage between Hoyt Street and Elm Place, but it is unlikely the poetry-covered parking lot will stay standing — the current zoning would allow the company to knock it down and build a commercial or residential skyscraper on the site. One developer pitching for the properties last year proposed building a 910-foot tower — about 65 stories — on the two lots.

The building that now houses Macy’s was the long-time headquarters of department store Abraham and Straus. The outfit — then called Wechsler and Abraham — moved in around 1885, and stayed until 1995 — extending and renovating the structure throughout the years — when it folded into the larger Macy’s empire.

Macy’s also announced a slump in its quarterly profits this week, prompting Carroll Gardens financial guru Jim Cramer to suggest investing your money elsewhere.

Tishman Speyer will close on the purchase later this year, according to a statement.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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