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Saks Fifth Avenue will close its downtown Cincinnati doors at end of 2022

PD: Thieves snatch high-end purses from Saks
Posted at 3:36 PM, Jun 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 00:13:21-04

CINCINNATI — The lights will soon turn off, and the doors will close one last time at 101 W. 5th Street in downtown. When they do — it will signal the end of an era for downtown shopping.

By the end of 2022, the downtown location plans to close for good, according to an email sent to customers. The company didn’t include a specific closing date.

Tony Gast works in downtown, and he said he’d like to see something new in its place.

“Might have walked in there once. I’ve never seen it be busy. I don’t know if Cincinnati is a Saks kind of place to tell you the truth,” Gast said. “More interested in a bar, restaurant, or a market coming up than an anchor store like that.”

Times have changed. Shopping habits have also changed. In its heyday, shoppers flocked to places like Saks Fifth Avenue and other anchor stores in downtown. Stores like Shilito’s, Mabley and Carew, Pogues, and McAlpins.

Over several decades, one by one, those anchor retailers would close their downtown locations. The announcement of the store closing represents the end of big box stores in downtown.

Saks Fifth Avenue is a store the City of Cincinnati spent millions of dollars to keep in downtown over the years. In 2003, city council approved spending $6.6 million to renovate the department store’s exterior.

While some may see a closure, others, like Brendon Cull, the Chief Strategy Officer for the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, see opportunity.

“I’ve spent the past six months talking about the power of building a world-class convention district. If you look at where this building is—the Saks building. It’s right next to all of the hotels, the convention center, where we’re looking at a headquarters hotel. The opportunity here that this presents is pretty enormous,” he said.

He said it’s too early to speculate what could fill the space which currently houses Saks Fifth Avenue; however, Cull said he’d like to see the area become part of the “Convention District”.

“An incredibly connected piece of real estate that has enormous opportunity for it. I keep thinking about — we’re talking about building a headquarters hotel. Looking at our convention center thanks to the work of 3CDC, and we’re going to create not just one project, but a convention district as a whole. Now I’m thinking about how this particular piece fits into the whole. I think that opens up any number of redevelopment opportunities,” he said.

Cull believes, once the store is closed for good, the space won't remain vacant for long. He's focused on the future.

“Building spaces and places for people to come downtown that are culturally diverse, that are inclusive," said Cull. "That’s what we want our downtown of the future to look like. This is an opportunity to further build a future city. Tough to say goodbye to an old friend, but we have a great opportunity ahead of this with the city, with this opening."