By  on April 18, 2005

NEW YORK — The prospect of a Macy’s replacing the Marshall Field’s flagship on State Street has left a bad taste in the mouths of many Chicagoans.

“Marshall Field’s is an institution to Chicago,” said Bill Smith, a major State Street real estate developer. “I personally would hate to see it rebranded.”

That rebranding, of course, would be extremely attractive to the retailer’s new owner, the Federated Department Stores. Converting the Marshall Field’s flagship into a Macy’s, as it has done with other regional players such as Lazarus, Rich’s and Goldsmith’s, would be a huge leap in visibility in the Midwest for Macy’s and a major entry into Chicago.

“For any company it would be a huge coup,” said Camille Julmy, vice chairman of Chicago-based brokerage house U.S. Equities. “It’s a great piece of real estate and it’s a great store.”

It would be tough to find locals happy about it.

“It’s not that Macy’s has a bad name in Chicago, it doesn’t,” said Greg Maloney, president and chief executive officer of Jones Lang LaSalle Retail and a native Chicagoan. “But Marshall Field’s is State Street. It has credibility, history and a lot of intangibles that we connect with.”

But Chicagoans hope changing the identify of their beloved store may not be so simple. The nine-story property, at 111 North State Street, was built in 1892 in neo-Renaissance style. Inside the store, a 6,000-square-foot atrium designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany covers the largest Tiffany mosaic in the world. In May last year, Chicago’s landmarks commission granted the building a preliminary landmark designation. If it receives a full designation, changing the property will become difficult.

“The idea that the property could be converted, redeveloped or torn down would be a virtual impossibility,” said Smith.

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