Macy's might get incentives to stay downtown
By Catherine Lackner
In their quest to keep Macy's in downtown Miami, officials of the City of Miami and the Downtown Development Authority might offer incentives to help the retailer "redo its corporate offices," said land-use attorney Neisen Kasdin, a member of the authority.
Though Macy's officials have not announced plans to leave downtown, they have made it clear that they have concerns about street conditions and crime.
"Mayor [Manny] Diaz and I have met with Macy's on a number of occasions," Mr. Kasdin said at last week's authority meeting. "Short-term, they're concerned about having police presence and [street] cleanliness. Long-term, they would like an incentive package so they can redo their corporate offices," part of the company's 840,000-square-foot complex at 22 E. Flagler St.
The store opened as Burdines' in 1912.
After the meeting, Mr. Kasdin said an incentive amount hasn't been discussed and the negotiations are preliminary.
Mr. Kasdin is chairman of the authority's Economic Development Program Committee, which deals with retail issues.
In return for incentives, the city has some requirements for Macy's to fulfill, Mr. Kasdin said. "The mayor has insisted the store has to be redone so that it is appealing and more open to the street," he said.
"They definitely need to take a look at their store," said Jose Goyanes, a downtown businessman who sits on the authority board. "I own the building across the street. [Macy's officials are] 100% correct that there are some problems downtown, but they need to take care of their store better. They are also at fault."
Plate-glass windows facing the street have been bricked over, resulting in blank walls at ground level. "They need to open up those windows," Mr. Goyanes said.
Mr. Kasdin said glass should be put back into the windows. "It's a security issue as well," he said. "The way it is now, there are fewer eyes on the street.
"Macy's has said their decision to upgrade will be based on their analysis of market conditions," Mr. Kasdin said.
Macy's is conducting demographic and market studies with information provided by the authority as well as from its own research, Mr. Kasdin said.
"We told them there is a potentially huge market downtown," he said. "There are residents downtown now, and the office market is as tight as it's ever been."
"It's going to take a lot to talk them into staying," said Scott Robins, a board member and downtown property owner.
Melissa Goff, Macy's vice president of public relations, said the ball is in the city's court.
"There is critical development work to be done in the city," she said. "We've expressed our concerns and are pleased that they struck a responsive chord with so many in the business community.
"Now we need the leadership of our elected officials, our capable DDA executive director and the chamber to develop a plan and then to make it happen."