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Macy's will sell and close downtown Minneapolis store

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Walkers in the skyway going into Macy's.
Pedestrians are reflected in the skyway glass just before entering the downtown Minneapolis Macy's store on Wednesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated: 4:37 p.m. | Posted: 2:58 p.m.

Macy's announced Wednesday that it intends to close and sell its store in downtown Minneapolis.

The retail chain had announced last summer its intention to close about 100 stores this year, but it did not specify locations. The Minneapolis store, with 280 employees, reportedly will close in March.

The century-old store's location on the Nicollet Mall made it one of the most visible retail properties in Minnesota, and one of four that the chain described as its "legacy" stores. The other three are in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

Dayton's department store in Minneapolis
Macy's building in 1924
Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Macy's is planning to sell the property to the 601W Companies, a firm that intended to redevelop it as mixed office and retail space. 

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement that the sale is a "huge opportunity" for downtown. 

"While we will all miss Macy's — I've happily spent a lot of money there — and my thoughts are particularly with Macy's workers today, I am also excited for this next step," she said. 

The possible closing of Macy's had been a topic of speculation. Big retail stores in downtown Minneapolis have a 15 percent vacancy rate, which observers say is three times the regional average. 

The downtown Minneapolis Macy's.
The downtown Macy's building from across the street on Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Steve Cramer, president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said the development was not a surprise "in light of changes affecting downtown retailing across the nation." 

"For many years the former Dayton's building has been an underutilized asset at the center of our business district, with hundreds of thousands of vacant square feet," he said in a statement. 

He added that the sale to 601W Companies is "an opportunity to revitalize this iconic structure in the heart of downtown."

The signature building on Nicollet Mall dated to the early 1900s. It was long the flagship Dayton's store, in an era when large department stores anchored the downtown area. But most of those stores have departed or closed over the years. 

Macy's announced it was closing 68 stores and reorganizing its remaining outlets. It said it would use the savings to focus on its online sales and other initiatives.