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Macy’s adds $235M infrastructure upgrade to Herald Square tower plan

Macy’s has promised to spend $235 million on Herald Square infrastructure upgrades as part of a plan to build a new office tower on top of its flagship store.

The upgrades would turn the area into a “modern, pedestrian-friendly urban space with upgraded subway access, improved transit connections and ADA-accessible elevators,” said the company in a press release issued this afternoon.

To achieve these upgrades, Macy’s said it will leverage its underlying Herald Square real estate to build a commercial office tower above its flagship store.

All told, the development could generate $269 million annually in new tax revenues for New York City, support 16,290 annual jobs and spark $4.29 billion in annual economic output, said the retailer.

Renderings via FXcollaborative

“Macy’s Herald Square is one of New York City’s most iconic institutions, and, as we plan for the future, we are doubling down on our commitment to New York by reinvesting in our flagship location while committing $235 million in private investment to upgrade the Herald Square neighborhood through our tower project,” said Jeff Gennette, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Macy’s, Inc.

 “We are proud to make this leadership investment in New York’s recovery and are excited to welcome visitors back to Herald Square not only today, but for generations to come.”

Macy’s first presented its tower plan for the 100-year-old store to investors just ahead of the COVID outbreak.

In its latest announcement, the company said the project would upgrade and make temporary plaza improvements permanent, dedicate areas for pedestrians that address accessibility and ADA-specific issues, and ease overcrowding and congestion to allow for a safer, more inviting open space. Macy’s will work closely with local officials, Manhattan Community Board 5, the 34th Street Partnership and other community stakeholders on final designs. Currently, the plan would:

Macy’s Herald Square location would remain open throughout the project’s timeline, which will go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) process while the company works with the community and local leaders. It has also engaged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other stakeholders to ensure the various public realm investments will be appropriate to the community and blend with neighboring transit upgrades.

Already the plan has garnered support from the local business and building community.

“Macy’s on 34th Street is a cornerstone of Herald Square and has been a vital leader in our push for the neighborhood to realize its full potential for pedestrians, transit users and visitors alike,” said Dan Biederman, President of the 34th Street Partnership. “Macy’s commitment of $235 million to upgrade the public realm reflects our vision for the area and is a bold and timely vote of confidence in the future of Herald Square, our City, and Macy’s ongoing presence here.”

The Association for a Better New York said the infrastructure improvements would “make the Herald Square experience more enjoyable for locals and tourists alike,” and the Retail Council of New York State called the announcement “a resounding vote of confidence for Manhattan.”

Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO of the New York Building Congress, said, “The building industry will play a vital role in New York City’s economic recovery, and Macy’s plan will not only ensure the longevity of its iconic Herald Square store, but will vastly improve the streetscape of a pedestrian-heavy district while creating thousands of well-paying construction jobs.

“Now is the time to invest in our future and keep New York City as the best place in the world to live, work and shop.”

The plan includes upgraded connections to public transportation and substantial improvements to the Herald Square Subway Station; new transit entrances to the Herald Square Subway Station near Penn Station; enhanced entry to Herald Square Subway Station at Greeley Square and; addition of ADA-accessible elevators at 7th Avenue & 34th Street and 35th Street & Broadway to the subway station while creating additional pedestrian space on the northern edge of Penn Station

 Macy’s at Herald Square opened its doors in 1902, quickly growing into one million square feet of retail space with its 1924 expansion from Broadway to Seventh Avenue along 34th Street. The store expanded again in 1931 when it annexed the Seventh Avenue building.

The company said the design of the new building is still being developed but “it will be a contextually appropriate addition to the neighborhood and add complementary density to the transit-oriented development district.”

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