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Macy’s Has a $235 Million Plan for Herald Square

One of New York City’s most iconic retailers is betting big on the Big Apple bouncing back.

On Monday, Macy’s Inc. unveiled a $235 million plan to not only improve its sprawling flagship anchoring Manhattan’s Herald Square but also revitalize the surrounding neighborhood, a move that signals “the city is set to come roaring back,” said Melva M. Miller, CEO of the Association for a Better New York.

The news comes as the city is planning to lift critical restrictions that have dampened economic vitality throughout the pandemic. Next week, businesses like gyms, restaurants and hair salons will no longer face capacity restrictions for the first time in more than a year. What’s more, according to Macy’s, the city “is forecasting a significant amount of new office jobs in 2021, expecting a return to pre-pandemic office employment levels by the fourth quarter and recouping office jobs lost at the outset of the pandemic,” underscoring the notion that the time is right to begin preparing for the near term and the long haul.

One part of Macy’s two-pronged plan involves building the office tower it first floated last year. Rising as much as 900 feet, the 1.5-million-square-foot glass structure is expected to augment the $590 million in total annual labor income generated by the flagship’s retail and corporate workforce. Plus, Macy’s believes the brand-new office space could generate $269 million in annual new tax revenues for New York City, support 16,290 jobs and spark $4.29 billion in economic output each year. Still in development, the building’s design will be subject to the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

In addition to the office-tower plans, the retailer has big ambitions to enhance accessibility at the Herald Square subway station and upgrade transit entrances and connections, installing ADA-compliant elevators at 7th Ave. and 34th St., and at the 35th St. and Broadway intersection. Beyond elevating the transit experience, Macy’s plan aims to convert the surrounding area into a “pedestrian-friendly urban space.”

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Describing the flagship as one of the city’s “most iconic institutions,” Macy’s Inc. CEO Jeff Gennette said the company is “doubling down” on its commitment to New York City, which includes notable events like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Flower Show, 4th of July Fireworks and Santaland.

Macy's vision for Herald Square.
Macy’s vision for Herald Square. FXCollaborative

“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,” he added.

In making the plaza improvements surrounding Herald Square, Macy’s plans to collaborate and consult with local officials, Manhattan Community Board 5, the 34th Street Partnership and other community stakeholders on final designs.

“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,” Dan Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership, said. “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.”

Melissa O’Connor, president and CEO of the Retail Council of New York, said news of the investment is a “strong indication that New York’s retailers and consumers will drive this economic recovery.” Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, added that the building industry will play a vital role in the city’s economic recovery, and that Macy’s improvement of the streetscape will support thousands of well-paying construction jobs.