Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Macy's Store Will Leave Waterfront Developer Says It Is Looking for 'More Relevant Concepts'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Macy's Store Will Leave Waterfront Developer Says It Is Looking for 'More Relevant Concepts'

Article excerpt

Department stores with household names used to be enough to get customers to trek out to the nearest mall - and maybe hit a few other stores and grab dinner while they were out.

A lot has changed in the past several years.

The owners of the Waterfront shopping complex this week bought the building owned by the iconic department store chain Macy's to make way for "more relevant concepts" at the open-air shopping center in Homestead.

M&J Wilkow and BIG Shopping Centers closed the deal for the two-level, 140,000-square-foot building Wednesday. Financial details were not disclosed.

Department stores across the country have been going dark for years as shoppers increasingly browse online or shell out money for experiences and gadgets. And that's hit hard for retailers, many of whom are now trying to "right-size" their store footprint. Macy's, Sears, JC Penney and Bon-Ton are among the big-box tenants shrinking their real estate portfolios to keep up with changing spending trends.

At the Waterfront, the developer took the first step. Marty Sweeney, senior vice president of M&J Wilkow, said the firm approached Macy's about buying the building that sits almost beneath the Homestead Grays Bridge.

"It really hasn't added very much to the experience and shopping mix for a number of years," he said. "We believe we can bring in new stores and more relevant concepts to make it more active than it is now."

So what would be more relevant? Possibilities could include residential development, restaurants or more entertainment options.

The Waterfront also is home to venues such as an AMC Theater, Dave & Busters and the comedy club Pittsburgh Improv, which signed a long-term lease in November and will begin an expansion project next year.

Other tenants at the center "thrive" on the traffic those venues bring in, Mr. Sweeney said, noting that in customer surveys, shoppers have asked for entertainment and food and beverage options.

"We haven't heard customers say, 'Bring in a JC Penney or Sears,'" he said. "No one asks about department stores."

'A different ballgame now'

Macy's has been at the Waterfront shopping center for more than a decade, and the company said the decision to close "is always a difficult one. …

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