Wabasha Center (Former Macy's) - Downtown St. Paul

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stockman
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby stockman » January 11th, 2014, 10:38 am

I agree with the comment that it is unlikely that 7th street can begin to be reopened here but I still think its worth exploring. The old 7th street is actually taken up by the World Trade Ctr but you could reconnect wabasha and cedar by moving the street over a bit and provide a pedestrian street. This could provide more street-level retail along for the World Trade Ctr and also a new Macy's development. I think the Port and City have an obligation to try and rectify these past mistakes and return the public street connections. Farther out, changes or redevelopment of Town Center could continue the connection to Minnesota. Walkability, pedstrian connection to lowertown, development opportunities along 7th Place and street life would greatly improve in downtown by thinking a little bigger and more creatively to reconnect the street grid.

mattaudio
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby mattaudio » January 21st, 2014, 1:15 pm

Razing the building would make it more appealing to developers, according to the SPPA.
http://finance-commerce.com/2014/01/rep ... evelopers/
Anyone with paywall access want to fill us in?

twincitizen
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby twincitizen » January 21st, 2014, 1:24 pm

The article appears unlocked now. Get it while it's good! It will be in tomorrow's print edition.

mattaudio
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby mattaudio » January 21st, 2014, 1:36 pm

Tear it down. Replat it for 10+ smaller parcels. Encourage small development and incremental intensification. Allow for future re-opening of 7th Place. Done.

MNdible
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby MNdible » January 21st, 2014, 3:10 pm

mattaudio wrote:Tear it down. Replat it for 10+ smaller parcels. Encourage small development and incremental intensification. Allow for future re-opening of 7th Place. Done.
Says you, and not the market.

mattaudio
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby mattaudio » January 21st, 2014, 3:19 pm

Indeed. Usually when I'm posting on the internet, it's my own view.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby RailBaronYarr » January 21st, 2014, 4:38 pm

If the gummint did more of this and less regulating how things are financed, I'm sure there would be opportunities for guys like mattaudio and myself (or neighborhood co-op investments) to buy and build something of our choice.

talindsay
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby talindsay » January 21st, 2014, 9:08 pm

If you have the funds to do a small project there then I hope you have actually checked to see if the city would entertain it rather than stating that they won't on the internet. Seriously, if there's actually investment funding available for that style development I'm sure Saint Paul would talk to you. They like big developments only out of necessity - there don't seem to be many people with funds ready to commit for the kind of entrepreneurship you envision. So contact them and make a proposal. Sadly, I don't have that kind of money.

mattaudio
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby mattaudio » January 21st, 2014, 9:24 pm

RailBaronYarr is referring to SEC regulations that prohibit such investments. He and I have followed these trends quite a bit, as they are a major barrier for such investment unless someone has pockets deep enough to pull it off themselves. But groups such as Fundrise are finally challenging these investment regulations designed to protect small-time investors from themselves, but unintentionally sacrificing development.

MNdible
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby MNdible » January 21st, 2014, 9:34 pm

mattaudio wrote:Indeed. Usually when I'm posting on the internet, it's my own view.
Except that you imply that if the city does what you say, that the market will follow it. "Done." So easy! If only the stoopid city would get with the program.

When in fact the market has shown that developers have little interest in taking on small projects on expensive land in downtown locations. There are plenty of opportunities for such developments in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, and nobody has acted on any of them.

Yes, I'm aware that apparently crowd funding development is changing everything. It was on NPR this morning, so it must be a thing! But this seems much more practical for infill in undervalued commercial corridors (see, for example, the great work on Central Avenue) than for this site.

mattaudio
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby mattaudio » January 21st, 2014, 10:02 pm

MNdible wrote:If only the stoopid city would get with the program.
Clearly St. Paul knows what they're doing. Their downtown is so vibrant. So much more than it was 60 years ago before they tore it all down and created our current regulatory environment.

I don't think the market is the problem.

MNdible
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby MNdible » January 21st, 2014, 11:45 pm

If only you had a time machine, you could let them know all of your knowledge about how everything works.

RailBaronYarr
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby RailBaronYarr » January 22nd, 2014, 8:57 am

MNdible wrote:When in fact the market has shown that developers have little interest in taking on small projects on expensive land in downtown locations. There are plenty of opportunities for such developments in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, and nobody has acted on any of them.
I would normally say you're completely right here. Yes, in a thriving downtown full of very expensive land because demand for office and residential continues to skyrocket, very few developers who could afford to buy a parcel, tear it down, and build something new would be interested in small floorplates. Only in NYC and perhaps a handful of locations across the US would someone be willing to tear down a 6 story walkup to build a luxury 14 story one (or something). I agree with you, and most CBDs across the world have single-block structures for a reason.

But this is St Paul. Where an entire department store just failed, demand for retail is tepid, and office vacancies are quite high. Where a site that has sat vacant for nearly a year and had previous deals fall through is having the Port Authority step in to buy the site, giving "the city more control over how the site is redeveloped" (which could be a good thing if they demand great street presence as part of the sale). The city can recognize that diverse streetscapes help build lasting, lovable places and decide to plat it out and open up bids for parcels first. If one company buys it all and puts something in, great! At least they gave it a shot, and no one can accuse them of picking winners or a certain style of structure.

mattaudio and I weren't going to afford a sliver of the land anyway, but maybe a smaller, local real estate company would give it a shot. And heck, even then, if the city broke the site up into ten 0.17 acre (~60'x120' deep with an alley) lots and the PA sold them at 33% profit for $400k each, it's very possible there might be some interest.

twincitizen
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby twincitizen » January 22nd, 2014, 9:10 am

In the absence of demand for a new office tower, or even just an office building (say 8-10 stories like future Xcel or Be The Match HQs in Mpls), the least the Port Authority could do is split the site into two parcels. That'd be one way to break up the expected monotony of a full-block development.

One way to look at it is this: if the Port Authority only offers it as a single parcel, to a single developer, then a whole-block development is the only thing we can expect to get.

talindsay
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby talindsay » January 22nd, 2014, 12:33 pm

It seems like ideally it should be four parcels; smaller than that and there's too much risk, but bigger than that guarantees a hulking project. Perhaps set it up as four parcels with the option for a parcel buyer to subdivide each in two.

MNdible
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby MNdible » January 22nd, 2014, 2:25 pm

Yes, agreed -- 1/4 block parcels should be doable, and would certainly be better than a single full block development. But if you do parcel the site out into 1/4 block parcels, do you refuse to sell more than one parcel to one developer?

at40man
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby at40man » January 22nd, 2014, 10:20 pm

I'm really curious about some of the long-shuttered spaces in the store.

Is the Iron Horse restaurant still there? Furniture department? Lower level Men's department?

What was that oil tank found in the basement used for?

The empty spaces within the downtown Minneapolis Macy's are delightfully creepy. I am almost surprised they didn't wall off their old furniture department like they did with some of the other former retail floors.

mulad
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby mulad » January 29th, 2014, 3:59 pm

The St. Paul Port Authority bought the former Macy's building for $3 million during the site outage.

http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_ ... -authority
http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/242468411.html

I found this tweet from Frederick Melo amusing (PiPress reporter): https://twitter.com/FrederickMelo/statu ... 7474616320

MPR says that it may cost $13.5 million to demolish the building if it comes to that.

http://blogs.mprnews.org/cities/2014/01 ... ost-13-5m/

I wish Metro Transit would close their stop on Wabasha by Ecolab and move everyone to the stop in front of Macy's (which is only a half-block away), but that might not be the best idea for now since who knows if the Macy's building will stay for very long...

at40man
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby at40man » January 29th, 2014, 4:20 pm

A PDF version of the flier he is holding is available here: http://assets.bizjournals.com/twincitie ... -macys.pdf

Why would the city's code limit the height to 13 lucky stories?

Wedgeguy
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Re: Former Macy's Site

Postby Wedgeguy » January 29th, 2014, 5:13 pm

I'm not sure if their smaller runaway would affect the flight route going in. But that would not be that far off the Well Fargo Tower and the Galtier Towers. Might just be an old standard that needs to get upgraded.


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