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Exactly! I don't do department stores because they are boring and sterile. Customer service is largely non-existent. I'm not going to drive into St.Paul to go a Macy's/Dayton's/Field's. I can go to the MOA and be duly unimpressed.
It is time for something new and interesting. I like the idea of smaller buildings. Make something useful, like a merchantile where city folk can get soup to nuts without having to drive out to the godforesaken 'burbs and strip malls and endless box stores. I live in a rural area and we have a thing called an Ace Fleet store. It's small but you can get 75% of what you need there(sans food)It's not boutique or high end, but they sell name brands. We also have a True Value/Radio Shack/Rent All/Verizon/bicycle repair store. You can buy your sell phone, get ammo and rent a jack hammer in one trip. Real proprieters come and help you! Add a food co-op and couple other interesting stores and it might serve a purpose downtown.
A store with windows? Uh, who cares? We want the shoppers to buy stuff, not look out the window. And where do all the shoppers park? Replace 1 big hulk store with 20 smaller stores. U still have to park. And walk outside in snow from shop to shop?
Is downtown St. Paul a good place to expand business??? What are the number of workers compared to previous years? Does downtown retail live on lunch crowd workers or do folks make an effort to drive / park / pay / walk to downtown? Without volume, the critical mass of choices to bring buyers thru hassles falls off. What is the demand for office space in downtown St. Paul??? ........ Info for council to KNOW before decisions :)
Amen, Mr. Lileks, amen.
Our peer cities (Seattle, Portland, Denver, etc.) all understand that more people today want to live in a more urban environment. They want varied and unique downtown retail, attractive public transportation options, good schools and nice neighborhoods.
The Twin Cities does OK on some of these things, and it's working hard on others, but there is a lot of work to be done still if we're going remain an attractive option where companies want to be and talented people want to live. In some cases, this "work" that needs to be done is more a matter of undoing what was done in the last 50 years. The St. Paul Macy's is one good example, but others that are always there are Block E, the tearing up of the streetcar lines, favoring cars over people and neighborhoods.
I applaud the emphasis on human-relatable architecture. There is a lot of value in the "old ways" of urban development. Chaos is fine. Let chaos happen, within reason. Downtown St Paul needs some action aside from the government doing everything.
If anything is going to replace this store, you can be sure it will include low income housing. St. Paul has been loading up downtown with subsidized housing for many years now. It's scary to go downtown St. Paul. By the way, every year St. Paul does their annual drug stings downtown and they usually end up arresting over 100 drug dealers and other assorted thugs over a period of a few days. Do you want to mingle with those kind of people downtown? Ride public transportation with them? Downtown St. Paul is becoming almost as big of a sewer as downtown Minneapolis is. But at least downtown Minneapolis has nightlife to go with its armed robberies, rapes, car thefts, and brutal assaults of innocent passers-by. St. Paul has no nightlife whatsoever. They roll up the sidewalks at dusk. No private retail business is going to operate downtown without heavy government subsidies (like the $2 million subsidy for Cosetta's provided by the city of St. Paul). Which reminds me, this Dayton's/Marshall Field's/Macy's store also got a hefty, multi-million dollar subsidy from the city of St. Paul to stay open this long. Wasn't it like $6 million? And as soon as the time requirement for the subsidy ended, Macy's got out of town. They couldn't wait to leave fast enough. Can't say I blame them. Oh, did I mention how Mayor Coleman keeps raising taxes every year?
I worked in downtown St. Paul when this store was still Dayton's. There was hardly any traffic in the store even then. It's hard to justify keeping a large store like this open when the demographics won't support it. And I have to agree with callmeron a bit. Subsized housing/affordable housing for artists is not going to bring business downtown or add appreciably to the tax base to keep the downtown vibrant by itself.
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