A source in the retail industry has informed me that Macy’s in Downtown LA (inside the Big Brown Bunker known as Macy’s Plaza sitting in the most prime location in Downtown LA’s Financial District) will be going through a “$7 million” renovation in the near future. So I checked with the customer service office inside Macy’s Plaza to see if I could dish up some more info. A lady I spoke to at Macy’s Plaza said she could not confirm much about the details but she was aware that “some kind of renovation” would take place “next year.”
Woop dee doo.
What does “$7 million” do anyway for an aging department store housed inside a building that looks like it was meant to be a nuclear bomb shelter in the middle of Downtown LA? Perhaps we’ll get some new floors and bathrooms and maybe some new lighting and mannequins. Oh yeah, and perhaps some new makeup counters right? But they seem to miss the point. What happens inside Macy’s Plaza (and in this case, Macy’s) doesn’t really matter to me or anyone else who cares about Downtown LA’s future as a livable community. The glaring issue with Macy’s Plaza isn’t so much what’s on the inside but what’s NOT on the outside. Nothing you do on the inside will matter if it continues to look the way it does on the outside.
If you’ve ever walked by Macy’s Plaza before in your life, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You want to walk past this thing as fast as you can. Why? Because not only is it ugly but there is zero interaction between Macy’s Plaza and the pedestrians walking on the sidewalks next to it. What should be an experience walking by outdoor dining patios and shops activating the sidewalks, is instead the current dismal reality of a hulking structure clad in dated brown brick from the 1970s. Sadly, just about 575 feet (the length of a north-south block in DTLA) of ugliness.
Macy’s Plaza, owned by Jamison Services Inc, currently sits in the center of Downtown LA (7th/Hope) across the street from the busiest subway station in Los Angeles, surrounded by the most amazing urban revitalization in Los Angeles history. Yet, it continues to turn its back on Downtown LA, ignoring all the wonderful progress that’s been happening over the last decade. Downtown LA was missing for so long and now it’s been found again by a new generation of Angelenos (like me) who yearn for the sophisticated and livable urban center that our counterparts in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco have.
Without fixing the inherent flaws in Macy’s Plaza’s design (the walled off bunker look that’s so passe), it will continue to impede the progress we’ve made along 7th Street (now a bona fide restaurant row) and prevent the full pedestrian connection between South Park and the Financial District, always diluting Downtown LA’s fullest potential. The demand for retail shopping in Downtown LA is also the next logical step in its urban evolution. FIGat7th down the street will jump start that process. Will another property owner and developer with vision see the obvious sign that Macy’s Plaza is sitting on gold and is just screaming to be re-imagined?
For now, unfortunately, the “$7 million” renovation that is planned for Macy’s Plaza is really just lipstick on a pig.