CINCINNATI -- Macy’s Inc. told its Fountain Place employees Wednesday morning that the Downtown store will close by mid-March, as part of the 100 store closings that the company announced last August.
The 54 employees impacted will be offered severance packages or jobs in other Macy’s stores.
The company said it remains committed to Cincinnati, with 3,800 jobs at six other local stores, corporate headquarters and suburban office locations. In a prepared statement, the company stressed the closure decision followed careful consideration.
“While closing a store is always a difficult decision because of the impact on our customers, our associates and the community, Macy’s is delighted to have served this community over the years," the statement said. "We deeply appreciate the loyalty of our customers and associates and remain committed to the greater Cincinnati area.”
The closure could have a ripple effect on other Downtown tenants. Both Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s have co-tenancy clauses that allow them to terminate their lease if other big anchors leave the central business district.
A change in Downtown life
Macy's is the latest in a long line of department stores that have left Downtown. Fifty years ago, crowds flocked to four major stores: Shillito's, Mabley & Carew, Pogue's -- later L.S. Ayres -- and McAlpin's.
Cincinnati City Councilmember David Mann remembers it well.
"When I was a kid, going Downtown to shop was a big deal," Mann said. "I didn't like to go because my mom made me dress up."
Downtown was the place to be then. There were no malls yet.
"There were tearooms where housewives could come to have their meals before they were shopping," Mann said. "It was a big deal."
What comes next?
The closing of Macy's provides Towne Properties with a blank slate, according to Towne Properties partner Arn Bortz. The company developed Fountain Place.
"We view this as an opportunity to find a new future for Fountain Place," he said. "It's the most important piece of ground in the city. It's the heart of the city."
Many people don't know the building was built for a much bigger project.
"The structure was designed to hold up to a 22-story tower," Bortz said. "At the time, it was assumed the tower would be offices. We're not going to make that assumption now, because there are other options to be explored."
Those other options include mixed uses, housing and a hotel.
"The world has changed. The retailers certainly know that," Bortz said. "It's up to the rest of us to adapt to that change."
In this case, the change is more people moving Downtown.
"I think this simply reflects what already happened," Mann said. "People think of Downtown as a place to live, a place to play -- not a place to shop."