By  on March 21, 2008

BOSTON — Simon Property Group plans a major expansion of the upscale Copley Place complex here, boosting the size of Neiman Marcus about 50 percent and adding more than 110,000 square feet of retail space and a condominium tower.

Neiman's, one of the downtown center's anchors, is to grow its 115,000-square-foot footprint by 54,000 square feet. The Dallas-based luxury retailer has wanted to enlarge its "very productive" Boston store for years, said Wayne Hussey, senior vice president of store development.

The additional space is "crucial to strengthening the Neiman Marcus brand in Boston," Hussey said.

Citing the "significant infusion of retail into the Greater Boston area," he said the chance "to expand our presence in downtown Boston will enable Neiman Marcus to further preserve our competitive advantage."

Carl Dieterle, executive vice president of development for Simon Property Group, said Copley was conceived in the Eighties with a residential component. However, because the complex is built over the Massachusetts Turnpike tunnels, the tower was too costly and structurally complex for the original developer. Simon has now resolved the engineering issues and, pending city approval, plans to break ground in 2009.

The 41-story tower will sit on the Stuart Street Plaza, now a windswept and often empty brick expanse. At ground level, the tower will have Neiman Marcus and a soaring conservatory garden. Above there will be 300 luxury condos, a health club and day spa, which are slated to open in 2012.

Neiman Marcus will stay open during renovations, which Hussey estimated would take 12 to 18 months and broaden every merchandise category. The Boston store is too small to accommodate children's wear and has only a few branded shop-in-shops, two elements the retailer has in its unit in Natick, Mass., 20 miles west of Boston.

Simon Property Group is spending $450 million to expand and upgrade its Boston-area properties as the region undergoes a development surge.

Copley Place, which also features Louis Vuitton and Barneys New York, among other luxury stores, is scheduled for a cosmetic overhaul along with the expansion.

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