Apr 11, 2005, 9:18 PM
There was a good illustration for this article in the paper, maybe someone can scan it.
Shopping for a tenant
Sunday, April 10, 2005
A plan to remodel the upper floors of the downtown Meier & Frank department store into a posh hotel is winning cheers from retailers who desperately wish to see the landmark building remain a bustling anchor of the city's core.
But not all downtown businesses favor the proposal. Some hoteliers contend the project would subsidize a new rival at a time the overbuilt hospitality business is making a long-awaited recovery. Further, they say, the added rooms could undercut the viability of a hotel proposed to serve the Oregon Convention Center.
Several hoteliers suggested condominium development, setting sales-price records elsewhere downtown.
As details of the hotel plan have firmed up, public discussions have brought out more opposition.
The controversy has left the Portland Development Commission to navigate the competing interests as it tries to prevent the department store building from going vacant and dampening downtown's outlook.
PDC staffers say they are hemmed in by the very thing they are striving to preserve: the building's historical idiosyncrasies. Their options are sharply limited by constraints emanating from the building's quirky and outmoded construction as well as its transit-oriented location, they say.
As a result, the PDC finds itself reluctantly committed to a plan that won't please everyone. Its board is expected to approve the redevelopment deal this month.
"We didn't seek a hotel -- we ended up with a hotel," said Lew Bowers, a senior development manager for the PDC. "We tried everything else."
The proposal has been years in the making. The downtown store increasingly has suffered in competition with flashier suburban rivals, and civic leaders have felt obliged to help save it.
When May Department Stores Co., the St. Louis-based owner of the Meier & Frank chain, moved its 600-employee regional office from the building's upper floors to Los Angeles in 2002, the company heightened fears that it might abandon the store's 96-year-old location. Former Mayor Vera Katz renewed her charge to the PDC that it work to save the store.
A 2002 report, "Downtown Portland Retail Strategy," commissioned by the PDC and the Portland Business Alliance, affirmed her intent, saying the top priority for helping downtown retail thrive should be to ensure the store's continued operation.
Since then, the PDC has steeped itself in renovation plans at an extraordinary level of detail.
A variety of developers considered renovating the Meier & Frank building, and all but one passed on it. The building's configuration makes it too awkward and expensive for condo or apartment development, said Michael O'Connell, a PDC development manager.
In the unoccupied upper floors of the Meier & Frank building, spaces are interrupted by 18-inch columns about every 20 feet. In many places, they rise from the floor close to walls.
That's not the kind of fixture you'd want in your living room, especially if you're paying $500,000 or more for a condo, O'Connell said. Even with apartments, an inappropriately placed column can hold down potential rents, he said.
Column spacing is just one of the many vexing architectural and commercial challenges of redeveloping a building constructed in 1909 and expanded twice.
"On-site parking was a huge issue for the residential developers," O'Connell said, because dwellers of high-end homes would demand parking spots in the building.
But the building is between Fifth and Sixth avenues, on the transit mall, where city rules bar construction of driveways. MAX light rail, where the city discourages driveways, runs alongside the building on Morrison Street. Any parking ramp would cut into first-floor space, the most lucrative for retailers.
"The whole thing was a spiral of expenses that don't make it pencil out," O'Connell said.
Several developers eyed the building's upper floors for condos and decided against it, said Don Mazziotti, PDC executive director. One developer considered those floors for document storage, essentially a lifeless use, he said.
"We have, over a four-year period, looked at a variety of uses with a variety of developers," Mazziotti said.
Enter Sage Hospitality
In 2002, Sage Hospitality Resources, a Denver developer specializing in urban hotel redevelopments, told the PDC it might have a solution: build a hotel.
Hotel development, PDC officials said, appeared to offer more flexibility. Hotel guests, for instance, would be less insistent on on-site parking.
In May, Sage Hospitality announced it had been awarded $72.5 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits for a project to renovate the Meier & Frank building's upper nine floors into a hotel. May announced it would use proceeds from the deal to improve and consolidate the store's retail space in the first five floors.
The credits could produce up to $22 million of the $36.1 million in cash that Sage intends to invest in the $107.3 million project. Another $13.9 million would come from low-interest loans from the PDC. Private construction financing would cover the balance of the project costs.
In February, Federated Department Stores Inc. announced it would buy May, and May officials said they expect the new owner will follow through with the hotel project.
The PDC recently has felt urgency to move forward so that significant demolition work in the upper floors can be completed before this year's holiday shopping season, Mazziotti said.
O'Connell is negotiating agreements with May and Sage. Each contract requires approval of the five-member PDC, which is expected to vote on them April 27.
Hotel market "saturated"
Downtown hoteliers said they feel conflicted.
On one hand, they want to keep Meier & Frank as a downtown drawing card. On the other, they chafe at the idea of the city subsidizing a competitor in what they see as an oversupplied market.
"The hotel market is saturated," said Chris Erickson, general manager of the downtown Paramount Hotel. With the addition of the Hilton Executive Tower in 2002 and a few small projects in the works, he said, "this might be a little bit of overkill."
Hotel operators and market observers say the downtown hotel market is recovering. But some say Sage is overly optimistic in its market forecast.
Sage says the fear of excess room supply is unfounded. The high-end downtown hotel market, it says, is poised for strong gains before its hotel could open in late 2007.
In 2004, visitors booked 825,501 room nights in the downtown's 12 fanciest hotels -- 5.7 percent more nights than in 2003, according to a report by HVS International, a consulting firm hired by Sage Hospitality. The gain of 44,543 bookings pushed occupancy to 71.5 percent, up almost 4 percentage points over the previous year. Hoteliers registered $80.94 in revenue per available room -- 6.5 percent more than in 2003.
In two years, high-end hotel occupancy could rise to 77 percent, according to HVS International. The addition of Sage Hospitality's 330 rooms would lower the occupancy rate of the 12 competing hotels by just 2 percentage points, said Ken Geist, executive vice president of Sage.
But Brad Hutton, area vice president and general manager for Hilton Hotels Corp.'s downtown property, said Sage Hospitality's forecasts are flawed.
"The overall picture of that hotel is being painted way too optimistically," Hutton said.
The recent increase in downtown occupancy mostly resulted from the Hilton's expansion, Hutton said. The expansion enabled the hotel to lure small convention business and some airline crews under long-term contracts, he said.
Sage Hospitality's hotel, which would not offer substantial meeting space, would not benefit from such business, Hutton said.
"They're going to be forced to bottom-feed as a hotel company, compared to where they believe they're going to be," Hutton said.
Dylan Rivera: 503-221-8532; firstname.lastname@example.org
Apr 12, 2005, 5:00 AM
Apr 12, 2005, 3:15 PM
^ Thanks PacificNW!
Apr 29, 2005, 3:54 PM
Decision time’s nigh for landmark
Meier & Frank rehab, hotel addition may get city nod May 11
It’s getting close to crunch time for the May Department Stores Co. to sign off on a development agreement with the city of Portland so the $137.3 million transformation of Meier & Frank’s landmark downtown store can begin.
The Portland Development Commission is set to approve the agreements on the project at its May 11 meeting.
Sage Hospitality Resources, the Denver company that will transform the top nine floors of the 665,000-square-foot Meier & Frank building into a Marriott Renaissance hotel, signed its development agreement in March after months of meetings with city officials.
“But we continue to work on the May Company development agreement,” said Don Mazziotti, PDC executive director. “It’s not complete, and we’re very anxious to get it before the commission.”
Mazziotti acknowledged that he’s worried that a delay could jeopardize timing on the construction project. “It has to be carefully coordinated so as not to interrupt the Christmas season. If that were to happen, there could be a cascading effect, which pushes the project into the next year, which is not desirable.”
Ken Geist, executive vice president of Sage, sounded less concerned. “We’re on the agenda for PDC approval May 11, and the plan is to have PDC get May’s agreement finished this week, then go to the board on May 11 — and away we go.”
Geist said he’d talked to May officials on Monday, “and they thought they’d wrap (the development agreement) up this week.”
May spokeswoman Sharon Bateman said she could not confirm where discussions on the agreement stand.
Plans call for May to sell the top nine floors to Sage and use the $30 million proceeds to pay for remodeling the first five floors into an updated, more upscale department store.
Demolition of the top nine floors could start in September, with reconstruction beginning February 2006; completion of both the store and the hotel is slated for the fall of 2007.
May said it intends to keep the store open for business while remodeling proceeds.
A pending merger of May with Federated Department Stores, expected to be complete in the third quarter of this year, should not hamper the project, May’s Bateman said following Federated’s Feb. 28 announcement that it was buying May in a $17 billion cash and stock-purchase transaction.
Industry watchers expect Federated, owner of Macy’s and Bloomingdales, to add some pizazz to May stores.
The Meier & Frank project is the culmination of years of negotiations with May to restore the venerable but fading flagship, a national historic landmark that is considered key to downtown Portland’s vitality.
With the construction launch so close, Mazziotti admitted he’s fretting that any delay could cause problems with escalating costs for construction materials.
If something happens to sideline the project, he said, “my opinion would be that it would probably effect a greater loss in downtown retail and the hotel marketplace than it would ever supplant or displace.”
Sage’s portion of the project qualified for $72.5 million in New Market tax credits, from a federal program that allows developers to entice investors with favorable tax treatment. The PDC is loaning $13.9 million to Sage to fund a portion of the hotel project.
All of the construction budgets for Sage, Geist said, included consideration for inflation.
“We’re in good shape; we just have to get our approval and get going here,” he said.
The new hotel, he said, should not divert attention from a planned headquarters hotel adjacent to the Oregon Convention Center. Some area hoteliers have said they’re afraid adding 330 rooms in the Marriott Renaissance hotel will hurt Portland’s already saturated hotel market, as well as damage efforts to get the convention center hotel built.
A recent report on the Portland hotel market indicated that it is well on its way to recovery after several down years.
May 25, 2005, 4:06 PM
Meier & Frank update
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
PDC will vote today on loans for renovation
The story: The Portland Development Commission has orchestrated a deal with May Department Stores Co. and hotel developer Sage Hospitality Resources Inc. to transform the Meier & Frank building on Southwest Fifth Avenue into a hotel and slimmed-down department store.
Denver-based Sage plans to buy the top 11 floors of the building from St. Louis-based May to construct a 334-room hotel. May plans $30 million in renovations to consolidate retail space into the first five floors. Update: The commission meets at 8 a.m. today at the PDC office, 222 N.W. Fifth Ave., and is scheduled to vote whether to provide the project with three low-interest loans totaling $13.9 million. What's next: Don Mazziotti, the commission's executive director, is optimistic about earning his board's approval but said he is less upbeat about the agreement's stipulation that the project's developers pay Oregon's prevailing wage to construction workers. That wage could create higher costs that neither May nor Sage may have anticipated, he said.
"The prevailing wage issue has the potential to delay the project for an indefinite period," he said, "and in turn, raise the possibility of jeopardizing the projects themselves." Learn more: www.pdc.us/flash-presentations/meier-and-frank/meier-and-frank_pres.htm -- Laura Gunderson 503-221-8378, LauraGunderson@news.oregonian.com
August 2005 Purchase & Sale
September 2005 Demolition Begins
February 2006 Reconstruction Begins
Fall 2007 Hotel & Store Open
This is it, if PDC blows this deal I say trash the entire Association. They are beginning to become more of a hinderence to development then a help.
May 25, 2005, 4:40 PM
The inner city market is strong enough these days to support a scaled-back PDC. They spend too much money with too little return and occasionally do something worthwhile. Their political autonomy leads to a lack of accountability.
May 25, 2005, 5:37 PM
I am going to be blunt here.
They don't need a hotel. If they want that store to survive and be a anchor of downtown, THEN BRING THAT STORE BACK TO WHAT IT WAS BEFORE.
Clean it up, bring in tons of unique merchandise, make it the unique shopping spot it once was, when it attracted people state wide to come and shop.
The problem with Meier & Frank is they have turned that store into nothing but a branch style suburban store. It is downtown, but they don't continue to make it the special downtown shopping experience it once was.
And to be honest, putting a hotel ontop of it is going to do nothing, because all they are doing is reducing the store size and really making it no better then a suburban branch store.
The best way to revive Meier & Frank is to bring that store back to the way it was. Instead of downsizing, open those floors again to shopping, and make it the best, largest, most special place to shop again.
In a city with such a strong downtown like Portland, I find it hard to believe in the first place that the store is doing bad. If it is doing bad, it probably has more to do with managment. Not because shoppers are shunning downtown.
These department store chains have lost touch with what downtown department stores were like and about. Downtown department stores were more then just about shopping. But these companies today just don't get that.
They gotta make that store better then any suburban branch store around. Really make it have the best selection, unique merchandise, etc. They could do all this without any fancy hotel deal.
Lets close with a quote from the Oregon Business paper.
"YOU'D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND A BUSINESS as deeply threaded into its hometown fabric as the Meier & Frank store in downtown Portland. The grand department store that came to be the place to shop for anyone within a day's drive put Portland on the map in the early 1900s.
People used to kid that there were four cities on the Pacific Coast: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Meier & Frank and Seattle," says Gerry Frank, a fourth-generation Frank who worked in the business until it was sold to St. Louis-based May Department Stores Company in 1966. ..."
May 25, 2005, 6:21 PM
I think the PDC is successful when it sticks to the densest parts of the city like downtown, Pearl, SoWa but in lower density places they have a less than decent record.
Miketoronto: I completely agree with you but unfortunately May/Macys could care less about having a quality store they (and most large US retailers) are more focused on taking on Wal-Mart which they will fail miserably trying to do.
The store will go from 360,000 sq ft (9 floors at 40,000 sq ft per floor) to 200,000 sq ft (5 floord at 40,000 sq ft) and those numbers dont factor in the large space for elevators, escalators, stairs etc.
I am certain the "Georgian Room" restaurant and Santaland will close and not return. Although its possible the Georgian Room could reopen as the hotel restaurant but would have to be moved and rebuilt and only retain the name.
The downtown Meier & Frank store is one of the most poorly run stores I have been into (actually it is the worst). Empty shelves, shipping boxes on the sales floor, worn out appearance of the store, poor merchandise quality, damaged and dirty merchandise for sale etc. Last year they had plywood over a broken ground floor window for several weeks. I was looking for a picture frame once and all the picture frames were out of their boxes scattered on a table. Not surprisingly most of them were scratched. I found an open box with a picture on it of one I liked but I couldnt find the frame that went with the box. The only frames they had were the ones no one wanted. I still shop at the downtown M&F but I have to say it is very unpleasant and thats coming from someone who likes downtown department stores, I'm sure if I wasnt a strong fan of downtown stores I'd have given up shopping there years ago.
May 25, 2005, 6:51 PM
Sure it's been poorly run, but department stores (with the exception of Nordstrom ) have been hurting for the past couple of decades with the rise of niche retailers. I think the hotel will be nice addition and the store will be able to get out of the less-profitable lines.
May 25, 2005, 7:05 PM
Department stores have been falling because they don't move up with the times.
People want one stop shopping. What offers one stop shopping?
A grand downtown department store does.
There have always been niche retailers.
Department stores are falling because they are not rising up to the times, and they are not managing their downtown stores or any of their stores in a proper way.
I bought a book about the Hudson's Store in downtown Detroit. It is amazing what that store use to provide. And I ams ure Meier And Frank was the same way.
They just gotta get their act together.
I know this is weird. But maybe they need one of the guys from this forum to run that store. I bet we could shape it up in no time and have huge profits.
May 25, 2005, 9:27 PM
Niche retailers are definitely more prevalant today than yesteryear. I don't agree that people want one-stop shopping, and neither does the market. If you're Meier and Frank, you sell furniture, clothes, bedding, luggage, jewelry and a whole lot more.
This means you have to compete with Crate and Barrel, the Levi's Store, Urban Outfitters, Sunglasses Hut, and other powerhouses. Plus, you have a host of smaller independent retailers that tend to be home grown and very responsive to local trends. Your marketing and buying department are going to be spread pretty thin and your store will probably have trouble keeping up with trends, and keeping the inventory fresh. This explains why a lot of department stores have had trouble cutting it. The simple criticism would be that the store ought to spend money completely renovating and reinventing itself to improve its image. But the realistic answer is that if they could afford to, they would. The state of the American Department store has been pretty dismal in recent years and has generally reflected individuals preferring to shop at niche retailers. Any marketer will tell you that.
May 26, 2005, 3:28 PM
More From The Oregonian
Hotel on Meier & Frank gets boost
The PDC lends $13.9 million to the developer of a Marriott Renaissance planned atop downtown Portland's landmark
Thursday, May 26, 2005
The Portland Development Commission on Wednesday approved $13.9 million in low-interest loans for a project that will renovate the downtown Portland Meier & Frank, transforming its upper floors into a swank hotel.
After a brief presentation, the commission voted unanimously to provide Denver hotel developer Sage Hospitality Resources Inc. with three loans.
The decision caps years of PDC work to find a way to revive the historic building on Southwest Fifth Avenue at the heart of downtown Portland's retail core. Meier & Frank's parent company, May Department Stores Co., and Sage have both said they would like to begin construction early next year, but first have to reach a final sales agreement and gain city approval.
The developers say the project will cost $137.3 million -- including $107.3 million for the hotel and $30 million for department store renovations.
Though St. Louis-based May has agreed to be purchased by competitor Federated Department Stores Inc., company officials have said a change of hands should not affect the renovation plans. Stockholders for May and Federated are expected to meet separately July 13 to vote on the $11 billion buyout.
Even with the remaining hurdles, commission members expressed confidence after the vote Wednesday.
"This is a move forward for downtown Portland and the region," said Matt Hennessee, chairman of the five-member board. "This is very, very important."
The Portland Development Commission is a semi-independent city agency that manages most of the city's economic development.
This fall, Sage plans to buy floors six through 16 from May for the 334-room hotel, which it intends to open as a Marriott Renaissance in early 2008. Sage estimates the project could provide 200 full-time equivalent construction jobs over nearly four years, and ultimately, 175 hotel positions.
Portland Development Commission's loans, which will help pay for seismic and other safety improvements needed for the project, make up a little more than 10 percent of the four-star hotel project's $107.3 million price tag.
The PDC made a $3.3 million, 15-year loan to Sage that will be interest-free for the first three years and then grow to 3 percent in the fourth year, according to the contract. The loan reverts to interest-free in the 10th year with a balloon payment in the final year.
Of the $3.3 million, $500,000 will go to May, a loan the commission said it may forgive in light of the 10 management and 90 full-time equivalent jobs that are expected to remain in Portland if the department store stays open. That money is a reimbursement for May's recent purchase of a piece of land beneath the building.
The commission also made smaller low-interest loans to Sage subsidiaries, including $8.6 million to Urban Heritage Portland Hotel and $2 million to Portland Hotel Investment Fund. Urban Heritage's 25-year loan carries 3 percent interest-only payments for the first three years with 3 percent interest and principal payments beginning in the fourth year. Portland Hotel's loan carries the same terms over eight years with an added $100,000 annual principal payments starting in the fourth year.
As part of the contract, Sage also agreed to reattach the building's original terra cotta facade and has aimed to meet federal environmentally friendly building standards.
May agreed to pay $30 million to morph the building's lower third into a glossy new five-floor department store, and plans to keep Meier & Frank open through the remodel.
May officials have said the new store, which the agreement said could open in the fall of 2007, is likely to stock similar types of merchandise to those currently carried at Meier & Frank.
To brighten the sidewalks hugging the more than century-old building, plans call for short glass awnings. Designs also call for smaller retail spaces, such as a florist or coffee shop, on the main floor at Southwest Fifth and Sixth avenues, where entrances once led inside Meier & Frank.
"This building is an icon for Portland," said Michael O'Connell, the commission's development manager for the project. "This is going to restore the building to its glory days."
Laura Gunderson: 503-221-8378; email@example.com
May 26, 2005, 5:11 PM
If theres going to be a hotel lobby and small retail stores on the first floor (in addition to the escalators, stairs and elevators) it appears this new store is going to be quite small.
Nordstrom has 3 floors (4?) and needs more space so when Nordstrom ever gets around to expanding it will likely be the same size or bigger than the "flagship" Meier & Frank, a full-service store.
Any guesses as to what departments will be discontinued at Meier & Frank as the store downsizes?
May 26, 2005, 7:35 PM
I happened to notice that they're posting public hearing notices in the windows of M&F. The one I saw was in a window on 5th Street, on or near the corner of Washington. An employee at the Lloyd Center store told me they'r planning on auctioning some stuff off from inside soon. Whether this means the 1960's-era ugly junk or old stuff, I don't know.
I really don't know if they'd remove any certain departments should they downsize. More than half of that building sits empty. On floors which have shopping on them still, there's a bunch of space by the windows that isn't being utilized. From what PDX streetcar says, just bringing it up to the standards of a 'burb store would do wonders for the place, perhaps without the loss of any depts. It's been long overdue for an overhaul of the current 1960's neglected flea market look that it currently has.
May 26, 2005, 7:47 PM
I hope the monorail is sold to someone who will keep it open to the public and somewhere nearby, maybe Oaks Park could buy it and run it inside a building.
May 27, 2005, 12:15 AM
If theres going to be a hotel lobby and small retail stores on the first floor (in addition to the escalators, stairs and elevators) it appears this new store is going to be quite small.
Nordstrom has 3 floors (4?) and needs more space so when Nordstrom ever gets around to expanding it will likely be the same size or bigger than the "flagship" Meier & Frank, a full-service store.
Any guesses as to what departments will be discontinued at Meier & Frank as the store downsizes?
I remember hearing that the main lobby will not be on the first floor, it will only be an elevator lobby to the main hotel floor. However, I am not sure if this is still the plan or not.
May 27, 2005, 1:53 AM
When Federated completes their acquistion of the May Company I think we will learn more. I hope that Federated see's the importance of having a store downtown Portland. They spent over $40 million in the late 80's, or early 90's, to update the downtown Seattle Bon Marche.
I think it is foolish for construction to begin prior to the take over because Federated (dba Macy's or Bloomingdale's) might desire different floor plans for the store portion of the development. If M & F become's Macy's I think the mix will be about the same in merchandise but more high end that has been offered.
May 27, 2005, 2:40 PM
This is Miketoronto's idea on what should happen to the Meier & Frank store. What do you guys think.
Meier & Frank Downtown Store. Bigger, better, and more special then ever!
Meier & Frank department store to see massive renovation and restoration of downtown Portland's most important and historical shopping destination.
Under the renovations, Meier & Frank will become the leading and number one flagship downtown department store in the north western US.
Meier & Frank will see a massive restoration of all 12 of it's shopping floors.
What will the new and improved Meier & Frank store have. It will have the following.
-Greater Portland's largest selection of mens clothing, shoes, and accsessories over 1 and a half floors. Enjoy brand name clothing, as well as unique designer styles designed by local portland designers, only to be found at the Meier & Frank downtown store.
-Greater Portland's largest selection of womens clothing, shoes, mackup, perfume, and undergarments, over 3 floors. Enjoy all the brand names, plus unique designer items designed by local Portland designers.
-Greater Portlands largest housewares selection, and china selection, featuring local designs only to be found at the downtown store, plus famous national and international brands. This department will be featured on two floors.
Featuring the famous Georgian room, and other restaurants offering a complete assortment of food options. Also enjoy the candy hall located on this floor, featuring candy from local Portland candy and choclate makers.
-Greater Portland's largest childrens section, including toys for the first time in many years. This ares will cover a full floor and be a childrens wonderland. Special counters will be made at childrens heights to make them feel moer special while shopping in the downtown store.
-The other three floors of the store will house unique collections of merchandise from around the world and from local designers.
Meier & Frank will be a unique place to shop offering items and selection not found in any suburban stores or other department stores in the nation.
The Meier & Frank downtown store will feature special events every Saturday, from fashion shows to cooking classes. Meier & Frank will be more then just shopping.
Come to the new Meier & Frank today.
Instead of downsizing, we are getting better.
May 27, 2005, 10:02 PM
And you have a buying, marketing, and merchandising mindfuck. Do you know how many high-paid buyers you'd have to employ to run the store you just described. Good ideas can be good on paper but financially unfeasible.
May 31, 2005, 5:43 AM
I love the M&F sooooo much. It's one of my all time favorite buildings to stare up at from the base.
May 31, 2005, 4:31 PM
Me too. I'm very happy they were able to find a feasable solution that will allow the building to continue functioning as a quasi-public space--a department store. I think the hotel will become signature--near the Square--and will provide a much needed revenue stream for the improvements. I'm excited to finally see this building look its best again.
May 31, 2005, 9:00 PM
Being in the wholesale fashion industry and counting both niche chain retailers and department stores as customers I can firmly say that department stores are slowly expiring and no remodel will stop that. The department store buyers are exactly the problem, they are extremely conservative and always buy the same stock year over year ignoring trends that niche retailers always ride the peak of.
If you want to see the future of retail look at the Adidas Originals store in the Brewery Blocks. They put the product front and center, treating a $60 pair of sneakers like a piece of art. Departments store stuff the sales floor full of product in order to make the store look full. This leads to confusing flea market look.
Anyway, I do hope something nice is done with the M.F. building, it's a Portland icon.
Jun 7, 2005, 2:20 PM
Lessons from the past
Meier & Frank makeover traces path taken by 5th Avenue Suites
In fall 2007,at the conclusion of a massive remodeling job set to begin this September,Meier & Frank Co.’s downtown flagship will emerge with a Marriott Renaissance Hotel on the top nine floors and an updated department store on the first five floors.
But the $137.3 million project, aimed at keeping a viable retailer in the heart of Portland’s shopping core, won’t be a simple transformation. For one thing, the department store on Southwest Morrison Street will remain open during the remodeling. And as part of the work, the 665,000-square-foot building, which occupies an entire city block, will get a seismic upgrade for earthquake safety.
Demolition of the top nine floors is scheduled to start in September; it will take a break during the holiday shopping season, with reconstruction beginning next February.
Built in earlier days when flagship department stores were full-service institutions that sold everything from fabric to toys, millinery to groceries, the mammoth buildings can pose a unique redevelopment challenge.
There’s an example of retail-to-hotel use just north across Southwest Washington Street from Meier & Frank, where the 221-room boutique hotel 5th Avenue Suites now occupies the 10-story building that originally housed the Lipman Wolfe Department Store.
The hotel opened in 1996, a few years after Lipman’s successor, Frederick & Nelson, went bankrupt and closed.
The extensive renovation of the former department store took the building down to bare walls and floors, said David Sussman, vice president of hotel development and design for Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group LLC, which owns 5th Avenue Suites.
“One of the most vivid memories for me about that job was watching workers with torches cutting out the old escalators,” Sussman said. “We didn’t need escalators in the hotel as they did in the department store.”
Getting rid of the old escalators was an expensive part of the demolition, he said.
Because the layout of a department store is considerably different than that of a hotel, converting a large multifloor store to hotel use can carry its own set of complications.
In the case of the Lipman building, Sussman said, “there were windows around three sides, with a huge center core, which isn’t very useful for a hotel; you can’t put people into spaces without windows.”
As a result, the hotel “became a building with a lot of suites — extra-long rooms with a living room area that opened into a bedroom area,” he said.
“Even with that we still ended up with some central core space on each floor, about 2,500 square feet. In some cases we put in meeting rooms, in other cases it’s nothing more than storage — which drives up the cost of development.”
Sage Hospitality Resources, the Denver company that will build the hotel in the Meier & Frank building, intends to address the center-core problem with a light well in the center of the structure. It also plans a grand lobby on the sixth floor, with a smaller entrance lobby at street level.
Both the Meier & Frank building and the former Lipman building are on the National Register of Historic Places, which means work has to be done in accordance with U.S. Department of the Interior rules.
The Lipman building, like Meier & Frank, is faced with white glazed terra-cotta tiles. “It has a beautiful terra-cotta exterior, and we had to restore that; wherever pieces were loose we had to reattach them,” Sussman said of the Lipman conversion. “Where they were broken or missing, we had to refabricate them. It’s a little hard to find people who still do that work.”
Sage, similarly, will be restoring the Meier & Frank building’s exterior.
Both Kimpton and Sage have restored a number of historic buildings and turned them into hotels. “We’ve probably done more historic projects in the hotel business than anybody,” Sussman said.
Converting an older, existing building to hotel use, known as adaptive reuse, “is certainly cheaper than building from the ground up” if the initial real estate purchase price is reasonable, he said, despite the fact that it’s getting harder to find realistically priced buildings for conversion.
“The interior finish is the same as in a new building,” he said. “If you can buy a building cost-effectively, you can bring the project in below replacement cost.”
There also can be tax breaks if the project meets federal Department of the Interior standards, as much as 20 percent of construction cost for National Register properties, he said.
The Portland Development Commission is loaning Sage $13.9 million to fund a portion of the hotel project. Sage in turn will purchase the top nine floors of the building from Meier & Frank’s owner, May Department Stores Co., for $30 million, which is expected to fund the aging store’s restoration to a more upmarket retail setting.
Doing a massive renovation while the store stays open “is a complicated, artful, intuitive process,” said Macy’s spokeswoman Kimberly Reason, describing the 2 1/2 year project that updated the eight-floor Bon Marché flagship in downtown Seattle from 1989 to 1991.
Store executives “need to determine how much space to allot to construction,” she said. “The more space, generally speaking, means construction can proceed a lot faster, which means you end construction sooner, and open the store in a much-upgraded condition, which will drive sales.”
But she said it’s also necessary to consider at the start “how much space you give up now, in terms of sacrificing sales.” And that decision, she said, comes down to a variety of factors, from the seasonal sales plans to the advertising calendar, the entire scope of the project.
Work on the Bon store, which also has a basement and a sub-basement like Meier & Frank, was notably more complicated than redoing a two- or three-level mall store, Reason noted. Parent corporation Federated Department Stores Inc. renamed the Bon stores Macy’s earlier this year.
Jun 17, 2005, 3:25 PM
M&F hotel on shaky ground
Prevailing-wage requirement could scuttle makeover
By JEANIE SENIOR Issue date: Fri, Jun 17, 2005
A $137.3 million deal to redevelop Meier & Frank Co.’s downtown flagship into an updated department store with a hotel on the upper floors may be collapsing.
The make-or-break issue rests on whether the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries determines that a $13.9 million loan from the Portland Development Commission to Sage Hospitality Resources transforms the remodeling into a public works project, according to PDC Executive Director Don Mazziotti.
Sage, based in Denver, is the company that will build the Marriott Renaissance hotel portion of the project. The development agreement calls for Sage to buy the top nine floors of the building from May Department Stores Co., which owns Meier & Frank, for $30 million.
That money, in turn, would fund the department store’s update.
However, if remodeling is deemed a public works project, that could raise the cost because it would require Sage and May to pay prevailing wages to every worker on the job.
Prevailing wages in the construction field are essentially the lowest wage a contractor can pay on public projects. The state’s prevailing wage law was adopted in 1959 to ensure that contractors maintain wage standards while competing on their ability to perform work competently.
“May Company and Sage have told us that if BOLI determines their project by virtue of PDC loans (becomes) a public works project, and thus they must pay the prevailing wage, the deal will collapse and they will walk.” he said.
This week, Mayor Tom Potter convened a meeting with Mazziotti, Sage and May representatives and Oregon Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner to discuss the issue.
“I don’t know what that’s all about,” said Sage representative Scott Conrad, who attended the meeting. “You may want to talk to PDC.”
May Co. Vice President Vince Corno, also at the meeting, could not be reached for comment.
A labor and industry spokesman did not return calls from the Portland Tribune by deadline.
Potter could not be reached by deadline.
Mazziotti, whose agency started working on a redevelopment of the aging 665,000-square-foot store four years ago, and started negotiating the present deal with Sage and May about a year ago, said he’s alarmed at the impact the deal’s collapse could have on downtown Portland.
A downtown retail study, completed about two years ago, called Meier & Frank’s continued viability essential to the health of the central business district. The massive block square building is considered to be at ground zero of downtown retail.
The matter is complicated by the fact that May is in the process of being acquired by Federated Department Stores, a deal that’s expected to be consummated in the next couple of months.
If there’s no redevelopment under way when Cincinnati-based Federated takes control of May Co. stores, that could torpedo the future of the downtown store, Mazziotti said.
“That outcome is disastrous for downtown Portland,” he said.
Jon Bell contributed to this report.
Jun 23, 2005, 8:43 PM
Pay stalls Meier & Frank project
A state legal issue with wages for construction workers has the PDC scrambling for a solution to revitalize the historic building
Thursday, June 23, 2005
An imminent redevelopment of the downtown Meier & Frank department store could die as early as next week if city and state officials cannot resolve a dispute over wages for construction workers on the long-awaited project.
The prospective developer of an upper-floors hotel as well as the corporate owner of the department store are pushing for a Sunday resolution of a dispute over whether the project must comply with state wage standards for public works, Don Mazziotti, executive director of the Portland Development Commission, said Wednesday.
The PDC, which has pushed for the building's revitalization for years, is scrambling to work out a compromise with state labor officials over the wage requirement, Mazziotti said. He would not detail those negotiations.
City and business leaders have ranked retention of the anchor store -- a historic mainstay at the heart of the city's commercial core -- as their top goal in safeguarding downtown's hard-won vitality.
Developer Sage Hospitality Resources, based in Denver, has lined up financing and development deals for a hotel in the top 11 floors of the 16-story building to coincide with a face-lift of the department store on the lower floors.
In recent weeks, some labor advocates have called for the state Bureau of Labor and Industries to require the hotel developer and the department store to pay a state-set prevailing wage.
The wage issue recently landed the PDC and the Labor Bureau in court. The PDC sued the bureau May 12 to challenge its decision that a PDC-financed office building rehab in North Portland falls under the wage standard. The bureau expects to respond to the PDC's suit in coming weeks, according to the Oregon Department of Justice, which represents the bureau.
Local government and housing advocates have said recent broadening in the wage law's application could threaten a number of public-private projects, including the Meier & Frank renovation. On Wednesday, for the first time, Mazziotti publicly estimated how much the requirement would raise the project's $137.3 million cost: between 8 percent and 14 percent, or between $11.0 million and $19.2 million.
Sage Hospitality said the extra expense would make the hotel portion of the project financially unfeasible. Sage previously put the hotel cost at $107.3 million but did not disclose an additional labor cost estimate.
"Should we not be able to work it out, we will have to seriously consider walking away from the project," said Ken Geist, executive vice president for Sage Hospitality. "Everybody's worked extremely hard on this project for over three years now, and to have this come up at the very last minute is extremely unfortunate." Geist said he was optimistic that a resolution could be reached by early next week.
Annette Talbott, deputy labor commissioner, said she doubted requiring compliance with the prevailing wage would add significantly to the Meier & Frank project's cost.
"We have no facts to suggest whether that's true or false," Talbott said. "I don't believe they've done that analysis."
The bureau is studying the Meier & Frank project in hopes of resolving the controversy within a few days, Talbott said.
Officials with Meier & Frank's parent company, May Department Stores Co., based in St. Louis, would not comment on the issue Wednesday.
The significant threat to the project comes as PDC and city leaders thought they soon would see their dreams of a revitalized building and department store become a reality. Former Mayor Vera Katz worked for years to preserve the department store and trumpeted the hotel plan in her last days in office. Mazziotti advanced the project for years, although he plans to step down June 30, raising questions about the city's ability to follow through on the project.
Mayor Tom Potter, who took office in January, convened a meeting last week to bring the PDC, the Labor Bureau, the hotel developer and the retailer together to discuss the wage issue. This week, Potter said, he met with Mazziotti and Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner to press the two sides to draft a policy for Meier & Frank and similar projects.
"We need to resolve this," Potter said Wednesday. "Each month that it's delayed costs the developers money, so I want to see it get resolved."
PDC officials have said time is short for several reasons. The hotel developer was hoping to finish major upstairs demolition before the winter holiday shopping season, a peak time for the department store. In addition, with a merger between May Co. and Federated Department Stores Inc. pending this fall, any lingering uncertainty would raise concern about whether Federated would follow through on the redevelopment plan.
Dylan Rivera: 503-221-8532; firstname.lastname@example.org
I thought this was a done deal, we have vitually seen the same story in the big O three weeks in a row and there doesn't appear to be any progress in resolving what seems to be a drop in the bucket compared to the overall cost. It would really suck if this thing didn't get completed!
IfSage walks away from this deal, Annette Talbott, deputy labor commissioner should be fired and then sued for destroying one of the most important project for DT Portland in years.
Jun 25, 2005, 3:31 PM
Developer not bound by wage law
The Oregon labor commissioner says state-set prevailing wages don't apply to downtown Meier & Frank project
Saturday, June 25, 2005
GAIL KINSEY HILL
A recent cloud hanging over the long-awaited redevelopment of the downtown Meier & Frank department store lifted Friday when the state labor commissioner concluded that Oregon's prevailing-wage law did not apply to the $137.3 million project.
Earlier this week, a key developer had threatened to pull out of the project if the wage law were deemed applicable, claiming that higher compensation requirements would push construction costs too high.
"We're very pleased to have this matter resolved," said Don Mazziotti, executive director of the Portland Development Commission, the city agency that has helped coordinate the project.
In a news release on the issue, Labor Commissioner Dan Gardner sharply criticized the PDC, both for not seeking clarification on the matter earlier and for sounding public alarms about the issue's threat to the project.
The redevelopment of Meier & Frank has taken years of sensitive negotiations, and the project's completion is considered crucial to the vital downtown core. It involves the renovation of the department store's lower floors and the development of a hotel in the top 11 floors of the 16-floor building.
May Department Stores Co., which is based in St. Louis and owns Meier & Frank, is responsible for sprucing up the retail portion of the building. Sage Hospitality Resources of Denver is the hotel developer.
The wage dispute arose just a few weeks ago when some labor advocates called for the state Bureau of Labor and Industries to require the hotel developer and the department store to pay a state-set prevailing wage. Project developers, in the final stages of signing development agreements and loan documents, also requested clarification on whether the wage law would apply.
"There was a big question mark," Mazziotti said.
The state's prevailing-wage law requires that construction workers on public projects be paid state-set standard wages and benefits. Gardner, who oversees the labor bureau, had to decide whether a loan from the Portland Development Commission to Sage Hospitality constituted a substantial enough link between the agency and the hotel's construction to classify the redevelopment as a public project.
Gardner concluded that the relationship was insufficient to trigger the prevailing-wage law.
Nevertheless, Gardner said he supported the law as a "reflection of the standard wages set by the local market."
"It is important to remember," Gardner stated in a news release, "the prevailing wage rate law represents good public policy regarding the construction of high-quality public projects with taxpayers' dollars."
Gardner's news release leveled unusually pointed criticism at the PDC, saying the agency waited until the eleventh hour to bring the wage issue to the commission's attention, then fanned worries of the project's possible demise.
"It is unfortunate that PDC chose to bring us a development agreement at the very last minute and then unnecessarily created concern that the entire project could be jeopardized," Gardner wrote. "The project was never in jeopardy. There was never a crisis.
"PDC's failure to work with the bureau months ago created unnecessary confusion and consternation that did not serve the public interest."
Mazziotti said the wage issue arose only during final negotiations of the development agreement and loan documents. Both May Department Stores and Sage Development, he said, "basically said they wouldn't proceed without clarity" on whether the law applied.
Then, Mazziotti said, "We immediately went to BOLI for a determination."
PDC chief objects to claims
Mazziotti also objected to Gardner's claims that the PDC unduly stirred up worries about the project's status.
"The project was in jeopardy," he said. "We weren't going through this for our health."
Earlier this week, Mazziotti estimated that a prevailing-wage rate could have increased project costs from 8 percent to 14 percent, or from $11 million to $19 million. At that time, Sage Hospitality said the extra expense would make the hotel portion of the project financially unfeasible.
Neither Sage Hospitality nor May Department Stores could be reached for comment Friday.
Reliable estimates on the effects of the wage law are hard to come by. The labor bureau said studies show the difference may be less than 5 percent.
"At the same time, studies also show higher quality work, so the actual cost may be less," said Marc Zolton, a labor bureau spokesman.
A recent informal survey showed that a worker involved in building demolition was paid a prevailing wage, including benefits, of $28.48 an hour, while a similarly employed nonunion worker was paid $28.13, a difference of 35 cents, or 1.2 percent, Zolton said.
"There are competing studies and estimates," Mazziotti said.
Mazziotti said he hopes to meet with developers on Sunday and within the next couple of weeks to review and approve the final documents. The tiff with the labor bureau, all told, he said, may have added another month to the project's timeline.
He said it's essential that construction begin by August -- for one thing, so that the department store can be ready for the peak winter holiday shopping season.
Gail Kinsey Hill: 503-221-8590; email@example.com
Jul 13, 2005, 6:13 PM
Historical panel OKs Meier & Frank remodel
The Portland commission presses to keep the Georgian Room, although interiors are outside its scope
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
A $137.3 million makeover of the downtown Meier & Frank building earned a green light from the Portland Historical Landmarks Commission on Monday, but only after a tiff over an interior room outside the commission's legal purview.
As the design stands, the Georgian Room -- the 10th-floor elegant dining room -- will be eliminated to make way for hotel rooms on the upper 11 floors of the 16-story historic downtown building at 620 S.W. Sixth Ave.
City regulations say the commission can rule only on exterior changes to designated historic landmarks. But that didn't stop commission members from voicing support for keeping the dining room.
Commission members repeatedly asked John Tess, an architectural consultant working on the redevelopment proposal, about plans for the Georgian Room.
Tess declined to comment, saying it was outside the commission's scope of review.
Later, Tess said, "We know something has to be done there. We haven't really looked at that element."
Commission member Robert Dortignacq pressed Tess again. Dortignacq said there was no other public forum to discuss the fate of the room. Would it be retained?
"I'd be happy to go through some of that stuff later," Tess answered.
Moments later, Tess said, "There is no way of retaining it in its existing location."
Commission member Melissa Darby urged him to reconsider. "It's a beautiful space, a traditional space," she said. "We're here to give you advice. Our best advice is to try to save it."
As part of a 4-0 vote approving exterior details of the remodeling plan, the commission instructed the developers to return at an unspecified date for an "informational hearing" on the Georgian Room.
Key elements of the exterior work include returning the first-floor facade closer to its original condition and trying to simplify what architect John Echlin called "an abomination" on the top floors.
The project is intended to restore economic vitality to a full square block that was once considered the heart of Portland's retail core. As commission Chairman John Czarnecki said, "Support for this project is pretty much universal. We look forward to it regaining its prominent place in the city."
Sage Hospitality Resources of Denver will remodel the upper floors into a hotel. The first five floors will be revamped by store owners for Meier & Frank. A merger is pending this fall between May Co., Meier & Frank's corporate owner, and Federated Department Stores Inc.
Key changes at the ground floor will include uncovering transom windows now covered by awnings above the display windows. Smaller awnings will replace the existing ones. Midblock entrances that were closed off on Southwest Fifth and Sixth avenues will be reopened as kiosk retail spaces.
The entrance to the hotel will be at a new midblock entrance on Southwest Morrison Street. Terra cotta on the exterior will be repaired where necessary, and original windows will be restored to operating condition. Metal fire escapes will be removed and replaced with internal emergency exits.
A restaurant and some hotel rooms will be added at the top of the building. Echlin said his goal is to clean up the roofline as much as possible, but mechanical systems and elevator housings mean that uniformity cannot be achieved from all views.
The building was erected in three stages, in 1909, 1915 and 1932. New rooftop structures will be finished with sanded cement plaster instead of terra cotta-colored metal panels as recommended by the city design staff.
The existing rooftop floors include both metal panels and cement plaster. Echlin said he thought trying to mimic terra cotta with metal would be a mistake. "We're not going to cover up the cement plaster," he said. "It's up there to stay."
Ross Planbeck, a Portland Development Commission project manager, said elements of the complex deal are coming together in time for a Sept. 1 deadline. "It's highly important to the downtown," he said. "Everyone is on the side of keeping this great terra cotta building."
Fred Leeson: 503-294-5946; firstname.lastname@example.org
-So how many more approvals must this thing get before they start the demolition of the interior?
Aug 23, 2005, 6:24 PM
He said it's essential that construction begin by August
So what's the deal with this, they have all their final approvals, no? I thought the construction had to start no later than this month, but it doesn't even look like they have begun any sort of prep work. Anybody hear any news?
Aug 23, 2005, 9:21 PM
The Georgian Room closes in mid-February 2006.
Aug 23, 2005, 10:17 PM
hmmmm....that doesn't sound very promising. I thought by Christmas the upper floors would be demolished except the outter walls?
Aug 23, 2005, 11:30 PM
As it stands right now I wouldn't be too concerned. The Federated/May merger is not going to be ok'd by the Federal Government until later this year (2005).
Federated may be wanting to change some of the plans for the retail portion....this only makes sense. No use in tearing up new construction when Federated can change the floor plans to fit "their" needs vs. May's needs.
The hotel portion may have to be delayed until the Macy's plans are finalized.
Oct 7, 2005, 3:30 PM
This is great that theyre pressing the developer to relocate the Georgian Room, why not make it the dining room for the hotel restaurant?...
Meier & Frank planning slows
Friday, October 07, 2005
A $137 million project to transform Portland's Meier & Frank building into a hotel and remodeled store won't begin until late January, at the earliest, as state and federal officials scrutinize plans for preserving the landmark's Georgian Room restaurant.
The building's owner, Federated Department Stores Inc., and the hotel developer, Sage Hospitality Resources LLC, previously had said they would start "substantial work" on the renovation this fall. They plan a new and improved store on the first five floors, with a luxury hotel filling the upper 10 floors.
But the two companies are at odds with the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service's Technical Preservation Services Branch over which elements of the building will be maintained. The Georgian Room's fate has become the most substantial element of disagreement.
Ken Geist, executive vice president for Sage Hospitality, said the delays mean the hotel won't open until the first half of 2008, rather than in late 2007 as originally forecast. The updated store is scheduled to open by fall 2007, although it no longer will be known as Meier & Frank. Federated bought Meier & Frank's owner, May Department Stores Co., this year and said it would rename the store Macy's.
The store has begun preparing unoccupied floors for the renovations, said Milinda Martin, a Los Angeles-based spokeswoman for Meier & Frank. But, she emphasized, the work would not be visible to holiday shoppers.
Major renovations, including seismic upgrades, likely would require installing a tower crane beside the building and having construction workers bustling around the property.
Renovation and preservation of the downtown landmark and retail anchor have been a top city priority for years, as May let it fall into disrepair and allowed speculation to persist that the store would pull out entirely. But getting a hotel partner to invest in the building -- which ultimately required loans backed by the Portland Development Commission, a 15-year state historic property tax freeze and other incentives -- persuaded the store to stay and renovate.
The renovation plans call for hotel rooms in the area occupied by the 10th-floor Georgian Room, a space of sea-foam green walls where ladies have lunched since at least the 1930s.
The restaurant reflects an era when department stores provided full-service restaurants to coax patrons into spending their day in the building, said James Hamerick, deputy state historic preservation officer.
"You get a lot of really good stories about the Georgian Room from patrons," Hamerick said. "It's probably the only high-style piece of the Meier & Frank building left on the interior, and it is clearly a significant space."
Hamerick has asked the National Parks Service to make preservation of the room a condition of federal historic preservation tax credits. The developers are counting on the $15.5 million or so in credits to produce about $14 million in equity to help finance the redevelopment.
John Tess, president of Portland's Heritage Consulting Group, which is handling preservation issues for the store and the hotel developer, had suggested elements of the room perhaps could be preserved by moving moldings or other pieces of the room's architecture to public places on the sixth or eighth floors.
Neither state nor federal officials seem likely to agree with that proposal, though.
"Please be advised that parceling out pieces of this significant space to different areas of the building destroys its integrity and does not meet the Standards," Gary Sachau of the National Park Service wrote in an Aug. 22 memo to the developers and state officials.
Tess said Thursday the developers plan to comply with calls for preservation, but they haven't decided how.
The companies have until Oct. 22 to reply with their plans for the Georgian Room and a handful of other historic preservation issues. The National Park Service then will make a ruling, which can be appealed.
State preservation officials can only advise on the federal program.
Sage Hospitality's Geist said the company plans to have a full-service restaurant in the hotel, although he declined to discuss details of the Georgian Room preservation.
He did say Sage is reconsidering whether its hotel will be a franchise of the Renaissance Hotels & Resorts brand, which had been in the plans for more than a year. Renaissance is known for unique properties, and Sage operates several historic Renaissance hotels in other markets. A decision on a hotel brand and a lender should be made in the next week or so, Geist said.
Sage plans to close on the purchase of its part of the building in December, Geist said.
Oct 7, 2005, 4:07 PM
The Georgian Room:
Oct 7, 2005, 8:59 PM
Oh, I see why they are all fussy over it now. It is a lot more beautiful than I had imagined. I should get up there and have lunch before it's gone!
Oct 7, 2005, 9:30 PM
Yeah its really like a step back in time to the golden age of department stores, I would imagine that it has bearly changed in the last 50 years. The people working there have been their for as many as 30 years. The food is basic American comfort lunch foods things like tuna melts, chicken strips, BLTs etc, is cheap (like $7 for a meal with a soup/salad, side and bread) and is served with silverware on white table cloths. Its only open weekdays at lunch time.
I would imagine its the last of its kind in the US as the few old time department stores that are still open have mostly modernized their restaurants into cafeterias or food courts.
Oct 28, 2005, 9:04 PM
Timeline set for remodel
Construction is expected to begin on the $137 million redevelopment of the downtown Meier & Frank store in January or February, according to Bruce Warner, executive director of the Portland Development Commission.
Plans call for an upgrade of the aging Portland landmark and transformation of the 10 top floors into a luxury hotel. Warner said the store plans to stay open during the construction .
“This is a critical project for downtown that has been many years in the making,” Warner said.
The city has offered many incentives for the building to be saved, including loans backed by the PDC and a 15-year state historic property tax. Work was delayed on the project earlier this year while Federated Department Stores Inc. bought the May Co., which owned Meier & Frank.
Additional delays occurred when preservationists called for the Georgian Room — the store’s well-known dining area on the 10th floor — to be saved. Although discussion about the room continues, Warner expects it to be concluded soon and construction to begin after the holiday shopping season.
Feb 8, 2006, 7:23 PM
we're almost halfway into Feb and I still see no activity other than shoppers at M&F, anyone have a word on construction timelines?
Feb 8, 2006, 7:30 PM
It was in the Oregonian the other day that they were going to start sometime in the Spring.
Feb 9, 2006, 6:42 PM
I believe that the Georgian Room is supposed to close in about a week or two
Feb 15, 2006, 1:34 AM
the macy's name is making its way into M&F mostly in advertising. the ground floor merchandise is noticably different and less cluttered
the 10th floor is empty but open to public, the georgian room is closed
i would guess the store will shrink in the next few months to the first 5 floors
Apr 7, 2006, 4:55 PM
Meier & Frank project is a go
By JIM REDDEN I
ssue date: Fri, Apr 7, 2006
The Portland Tribune
The long-awaited downtown Meier & Frank building renovation project has cleared its final legal hurdles. According to Portland Development Commission spokeswoman Elissa Gertler, the final agreements sealing the deal were signed Monday, meaning that work on the project now can begin.
“It was a very complex deal involving 32 entities and 92 different documents, but it’s all come together now,” Gertler said.
The aging department store occupies a full block on the transit mall between Southwest Fifth and Sixth avenues and Morrison and Alder streets. Federated Department Stores Inc. acquired the building when it bought the May Co. — Meier & Frank’s parent company — in early 2005.
The PDC-brokered renovation deal calls for Federated to sell the 6th through 15th floors of the building to Sage Hospitality Resources to be developed as condominiums and a 334-room Marriott Renaissance hotel. Federated will use the proceeds and additional funds to remodel the first five floors into a new Macy’s department store.
The deal calls for the PDC to loan the project $13.25 million, triggering $133 million in private investments and preserving the historic landmark.
Gertler says the new Macy’s is expected to open in fall 2007, while the upper-floor condos and hotel will be completed in summer 2008.
City leaders long have considered the plan critical to revitalizing the downtown retail core. It has been included in the PDC plans for downtown for many years, along with the $192 million renovation of the TriMet transit mall that now is scheduled to begin early next year. The agency’s 2002 Downtown Portland Retail Strategy identified the retention and renovation of the store as its No. 1 priority.
Apr 7, 2006, 5:20 PM
The tram's a go, M&F is a go...what else have we been waiting for?
Apr 7, 2006, 5:37 PM
I5 to be buried on the Eastbank, a subway, a baseball stadium and the post office in the Pearl to move to the airport.
Apr 7, 2006, 6:56 PM
I5 to be buried on the Eastbank, a subway, a baseball stadium and the post office in the Pearl to move to the airport.
Apr 7, 2006, 7:05 PM
Brandon...when I first glanced @ your post I was concerned about "what 15 you wanted buried... ;)
Apr 7, 2006, 10:37 PM
Actually, I'd rather not have the Post Office move... keeps rents & prices in check. =)
Apr 8, 2006, 2:13 AM
Not that it adds any more validity to this post, but I have had people in my office copying prints all week for this, so this is a project that will be under construction really soon. Looks like we will be working this site for the next year or so.
Apr 8, 2006, 2:28 AM
That will be so fine once it's completed. The Terra Cotta alone is priceless.
Apr 9, 2006, 3:37 AM
There are signs up saying that the bus stops on the M&F block will close shortly due to the renovation (I didn't notice the date)...
Apr 12, 2006, 3:21 PM
M&F renovation has started!
The awnings on 5th Ave have been taken down and the bus stops are closed!
Apr 18, 2006, 6:45 PM
It appears Starwood will now name the new hotel at M&F
Georgian Room on our mind
Plans to change
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Plans for the redevelopment of Portland's Meier & Frank building are going upscale.
Developer Sage Hospitality Resources said this week that it intends to build a swank $117 million hotel on the upper 10 floors of the downtown landmark. Luxury Collection, a brand owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., intends to bring four- or five-star opulence to a building that had not aged particularly well in recent decades.
The hotel's eighth-floor lobby, a main public access point, will feature a floor-to-ceiling piece of historic architecture treasured by generations of genteel Portland ladies: the Georgian Room, a dining room dating to the 1920s, which closed earlier this year. The restaurant won't reopen, but the historic room, relocated and re-created using original materials, will be accessible as part of the hotel's lobby and meeting rooms for guests.
The news about the Georgian Room's new location and the hotel's brand name were the latest twists in what promises to be one of the highest-profile redevelopment projects in the state.
Meier & Frank's longtime owner, May Department Stores Co., for years let the downtown store slide with outdated decor and vacant floor space, fomenting fears that it would eventually close or relocate. In 2004, Sage Hospitality stepped in, pledging to buy the top floors in a deal that would give the retailer enough cash to update and consolidate on the lower five.
The hotel developer has since hired Hoffman Construction Co. to punch a hole through the top eight floors, creating an atrium that will bring natural light to inward-facing rooms.
But many details, especially about the Georgian Room preservation, remain unanswered. The developers and their Portland-based architects and consultants still won't say how much of the Georgian Room's sea-foam green trim, heavy-curtained windows and hardwood floors dimpled by high-heeled shoes will be preserved in the new hotel lobby. They declined to make architectural renderings available this week.
James Hamrick, deputy state historic preservation officer, said Friday that state officials pushed for preservation and public access to the room. Even if it won't function as a restaurant anymore, and it will be relocated from the 10th floor to the eighth, visitors will be able to tell what the room once was, Hamrick said.
"The idea is it will look very similar, even though smaller scale, to what the Georgian Room looked like," Hamrick said. "It will look familiar to you if you were a Georgian Room aficionado."
Hamrick asked the National Park Service to make preservation of the room a condition of some tax credits. The developers are counting on about $15.5 million in historic preservation credits to help finance the project.
Hang-ups over the Georgian Room delayed construction from September 2005 to next month. Federal officials first suggested keeping the room on the 10th floor, Hamrick said, but that would have led to carving up the space into individual hotel rooms, accessible only to hotel guests.
Hamrick said the Park Service relented after state officials argued for a location that would provide more public access.
"To declare that it's important and then to close it off so that the public can't see it unless you're paying some high-roller rent for the suite, it just seemed not in the public interest," Hamrick said.
Federated Department Stores Inc., which bought May Department Stores Co. last year, will change the downtown store's name to Macy's by September. Macy's officials would not comment this week on the latest details of their plans for the store.
Overhaul of upper floors
Ken Geist, executive vice president of Sage Hospitality, said the company will work hard to keep the department store open, even while the upper floors undergo a major overhaul.
"This is a magnificent historic building, and we are looking forward to making it a focal point of downtown Portland once again," Geist said.
On April 3, Sage Hospitality closed on its purchase of floors six through 16.
The prospect of a Starwood brand hotel will be welcome news for travelers in that company's frequent customer program, said Ed Dundon, a hotel broker with The Dundon Co. in Portland.
"Hopefully it will be a product that will benefit all travelers in Portland in that it offers something unique and different to the traveling public," Dundon said. Competing Marriott and Hilton programs have more than 1,000 rooms each in downtown Portland, while Starwood customers have only a highly competitive Westin hotel and a couple of aging Starwood hotels with fewer amenities.
Sage had previously said it was considering a Renaissance hotel, a Marriott brand.
Portland's hotel market has been recovering for several years and should be strong enough to handle another high-end hotel downtown, Dundon said.
Sage Hospitality could have a hard time drawing people to the eighth-floor hotel lobby, even if it has a ground-floor entrance, Dundon said.
"It remains to be seen what type of hurdles they have being so high up in the air in a market the size of Portland," Dundon said. "That will be interesting to see."
Dylan Rivera: 503-221-8532; email@example.com
Apr 20, 2006, 5:08 PM
Meier & Frank project showcases PDC's value
The agency, once again, proves how instrumental it is in the success of Portland's downtown
Thursday, April 20, 2006
In the past few decades, a sad game of dominoes has played out in many American downtowns. An anchor store, often in a historic building, goes dark, and many smaller retailers panic and flee to the suburbs, as well.
Ask yourself what has averted such failure here. There's a long list of reasons for our downtown's success, but the Portland Development Commission surely heads the list. The renovation of the historic Meier & Frank building into a swanky hotel atop a department store -- a complex redevelopment project finalized earlier this month -- illustrates how nimble, and how instrumental, the Portland Development Commission can be.
PDC played matchmaker. It first matched a hotel developer to a historic building, owned by a retail company, then held this match together for several years even as the building's ownership changed hands. This project could have fallen apart in so many different ways, and it almost did a couple of times, but PDC pulled it through.
Denver-based Sage Hospitality Resources, which specializes in turning around distressed and/or historic buildings, is planning to build a $117 million hotel on the top floors of the Meier & Frank. The bottom floors, which are now separately owned, will be renovated into a Macy's.
As this project goes forward, many Portlanders will come and go, enjoying our downtown and taking it for granted. It will seem, at times, as if this renovation near Pioneer Courthouse Square is just taking place on its own, without any push from the public sector. Let the record show that this huge project would never have happened without the strategic intervention of the Portland Development Commission.
The agency's trademark is to take a small public-sector investment, often in the form of loans or tax credits, and engineer a very large private investment. After first making the match of hotel developer and retailer, the PDC cemented the Meier & Frank deal with a financing plan, involving $15.5 million worth of historic preservation tax credits and a $13.9 million loan to help with a seismic upgrade.
The PDC is the agency that everybody loves to bash, especially during a Portland City Council campaign. And the agency in the past few years has merited much of the criticism that has come its way, including a disturbing report, issued last year by the City Club of Portland.
Since then, Mayor Tom Potter has appointed a new executive director, Bruce A. Warner, as well as several new commissioners. Perhaps inevitably, the barrage of criticism and staff departures over the past year have taken a toll on the agency's morale, raising a question: Can the PDC become as transparent, accountable and neighborhood-friendly as it ought to be, without crippling its effectiveness?
There are risks involved in any renovation, of course, including the renovation of the city's leading renovation agency. But the agency's success in sealing the Meier & Frank deal is reassuring, strongly suggesting that this wheeler-dealer organization -- despite its ongoing transformation -- hasn't lost its moxie or its mojo.
A big new department store downtown, combined with an upscale hotel, is likely to spark more of the same: more excitement, more investment and more redevelopment. In the adjacent area, in other words, it's likely to have a reverse domino effect.
Thanks to the PDC, Portland will get what every city craves: a newer, brighter, re-energized downtown.
Apr 28, 2006, 3:12 AM
Meier & Frank name to stay!!!!!!
well sort of... the new store will be called "Macy's at Meier & Frank Square"
Official announcement and more tomorrow
while i think its great the name is somewhat sticking around (i'm sure no one will call it by the full name), i am not a fan of the "square" title... its not a park, something like "block" would be better
Apr 28, 2006, 4:16 AM
"Macy's at Meier & Frank overlooking Pioneer Courthouse Square"
would that have been any better? Although I do appreciate the corporation for respecting Portlanders. They don't do that often...
Apr 28, 2006, 2:54 PM
the historic meier and frank clock will remain
the monorail and santaland is moving to the basement.
the ceiling is too low for the monorail to operate and will just be for photos-ops
Apr 28, 2006, 3:08 PM
the historic meier and frank clock will remain
I give props to Macy's. It could have been Macy's Portland City Center. I wonder if the Santa Parade will be "Macy's at Meier and Frank Square Holiday Parade with Santa"
Apr 28, 2006, 6:54 PM
and the fun begins!
May 25, 2006, 3:39 PM
twice this week I have walked past Meier and Frank's loading dock and seen pieces of Santaland in a dumpster, including some garland and the faux fireplace...I almost jacked it when I saw it...but it was quite heartbreaking.
They have built a construction elevator on 5th ave only to about floor 6 or 7...I wonder if they are doing the department store renovation from 5th and the hotel from 6th?
May 26, 2006, 8:18 PM
the trees in front of M&F on 6th Ave have all been torn out.
Aug 23, 2006, 1:33 PM
Proposal for a Meier & Frank Square goes before Portland council
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
How do you preserve the history of a store -- or at least its name -- when the entire 16-store chain is getting a new name, new brands and all?
That was the issue facing Gerry Frank, a descendant of Meier & Frank store founders, when Federated Department Stores Inc. announced last year that it would replace Meier & Frank with its Macy's brand name. Federated bought May Department Stores Co., which had owned Meier & Frank since the 1960s.
"I've been getting hundreds of calls and e-mails and personal visits from people who are devastated that the name Meier & Frank is disappearing," Frank said.
A longtime Meier & Frank employee suggested a solution that Frank himself has championed to Portland City Hall and all the way to Federated's chief executive. That idea, expected to gain City Council approval today, is naming the block occupied by Meier & Frank's downtown store as "Meier & Frank Square."
Meier & Frank has had a store downtown since 1857. The current building is actually three buildings built from 1909 to 1932.
Under today's renaming proposal, the Macy's store in the historic building under renovation will be called "Macy's at Meier & Frank Square."
Several members of the Meier and Frank families are expected at a council meeting for discussion and a council vote at 9:30 a.m. today at City Council Chambers in City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave., second floor.
-- Dylan Rivera
Aug 23, 2006, 2:05 PM
The clock that hangs over the escalator banks (where the original elevators were), a fixture carried over into M&F's later stores, albeit more modern versions.
The clock was made famous in the advertising back in the downtown store's glory days. Ads featured the slogan "Meet me under the clock", as many people used it as a meeting place, as the store was absolutely huge, and everyone knew where the clock was.
For everyone that would like a trip back in time (or down memory lane for those old enough), check out this page: http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/meier___frank.html
Aug 23, 2006, 4:38 PM
i walked by a while ago and saw them pouring concrete into the building which i didn't expect and here's a rendering a found but i was too lazy to look for the thread:
the thing i noticed is how much brighter the front of the store looks
Aug 23, 2006, 6:10 PM
I highly doubt the name will stay. Macy's likes to do two-step name changes. For example. we had "Bon-Macy's" for a year or so. The idea is to avoid the confusion that going straight to "Macy's" would cause.
Aug 23, 2006, 6:46 PM
I hope they bring more natural light into the store - I really hate going into big stores where you're completely cut off from the outside and the nice sunlight you get.
Aug 23, 2006, 8:02 PM
I agree zifondel, my guess is the lighting will be like now, unfortunately i just can't see them devoting so much wall space to windows
But hopefully there will be at least in some part of the store or public area of hotel an area where you can see out, afterall it has a great view of Pioneer Courthouse Square and Jackson Tower. On a similar note, you can go into the rooftop cupola of the beautifully restored Pioneer Courthouse for a nice view of Pioneer Courthouse Square and the surrounding buildings.
Aug 24, 2006, 9:33 PM
mhays...from what I understand...Meier & Frank Square won't be park of the Macy's advertising.. The block the store stands on is being renamed to M & F Square.... The Marshall Field's store (State Street) in Chicago is doing basically the same thing: Macy's at State Street. I think plaques with the original names will be places on the exterior of the stores.
Aug 25, 2006, 9:12 PM
why are they removing the trees?
Aug 25, 2006, 11:34 PM
This was in todays Oregonian:
"She points to a Portland City Council decision earlier this week to name the block after the department store that's sat downtown for more than 100 years. Brass plaques will hang on the renovated building bearing the inscription, "Macy's at Meier & Frank Square.""
I saw the new plaques today on my way home from work.
Aug 29, 2006, 7:43 PM
After Smooth Sales Talk, Stores Take Macy’s Name
The New York Times
By MICHAEL BARBARO
PORTLAND, Ore. — It was to be the most ambitious transition in the history of American retailing: To complete the merger of Federated and May, the nation’s largest department store companies, executives would abandon the names of 11 storied local chains, like Marshall Field’s in Chicago and Filene’s in Boston, and replace them with Macy’s, the very symbol of New York City.
And focus groups signaled that it could be a public relations disaster. “I left New York for a reason,” one consumer told Macy’s executives here.
But protests now seem remote as company officials prepare, in their words, to “Macyize” 400 stores on Sept. 9. And the reason has much to do with the diplomacy of one man who has crisscrossed the country, a chief executive cum politician, handing out money and promises, and calming local nerves as part of a campaign to neutralize opposition before it gathered strength.
Terry J. Lundgren, the chief executive of Macy’s parent company, Federated Department Stores, flew to Los Angeles, where he agreed, at the mayor’s request, to build a Macy’s at a mall in North Hollywood. In Chicago, he promised to resume local manufacturing of the famed Frango mints at Marshall Field’s. In St. Louis, he vowed to keep the downtown Famous-Barr store open, despite years of poor sales.
“When you are a company of our size, trying to make the changes we are making, you need a close relationship with local officials,” Mr. Lundgren said in an office at Macy’s Herald Square store in Manhattan. “You have to get off on the right foot.”
Any misstep would be costly. The merger Mr. Lundgren engineered in early 2005 was always a high-stakes bet that in a retail landscape dominated by big-box chains like Wal-Mart and specialty stores like J. Crew, consumers still needed department stores, and that they would warm to a retailer that wiped out century-old local brands.
The delicacy of the task may explain why Mr. Lundgren traveled here to painstakingly court Gerry Frank, whose family started Meier & Frank, a 149-year-old Oregon department store that Federated inherited when it bought May. Last year, Mr. Frank, the great-grandson of Meier & Frank’s founder, wrote a letter asking Mr. Lundgren, in no uncertain terms, not to tamper with the identity of the family’s department store. “I think I can speak for many, many Oregonians,” he wrote, “in asking that Federated maintain the Meier & Frank name.”
So, in the midst of the $11 billion takeover of May, Mr. Lundgren flew 2,500 miles to dine with Mr. Frank in Portland. Back at his office in New York, Mr. Lundgren exchanged flattering e-mail messages with him (“You are a Great Man and True Friend,” concluded one note from Mr. Lundgren. “Don’t be afraid to ask me or tell me anything,” read another.)
In a final flourish, Mr. Lundgren agreed to emblazon Mr. Frank’s family name on plaques outside the downtown Portland store after it became Macy’s.
“Today I would jump off a building for him,” Mr. Frank said of Mr. Lundgren.
It is a performance that Mr. Lundgren has repeated over and over, from Boston, where Macy’s will become an official department store sponsor of the Boston Red Sox, to St. Louis. “He called me on the phone several times, met me in person twice, then he had us up to New York,” said Francis G. Slay, the mayor of St. Louis, where the Famous-Barr chain is soon to become Macy’s. “Honestly, I was surprised that he gave so much personal attention to us.”
At the heart of Mr. Lundgren’s campaign is a simple insight into the politics of retailing: people care more about store symbols and traditions than the names behind them.
So instead of fretting over the loss of Hecht’s in Washington or Famous-Barr in St. Louis, Mr. Lundgren focused on the handful of rituals that matter to shoppers — the Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, the Santaland displays and the July 4 fireworks shows.
Even in Chicago, where 60,000 people signed an online petition to preserve the Marshall Field’s name, Mr. Lundgren has managed to win over detractors by emphasizing tradition, big and small. He has ensured, for example, that the downtown State Street store’s elaborate Christmas windows will remain untouched. He signed off on a plan to refurbish an abandoned express elevator that once carried shoppers directly to the store’s designer boutique, 28 Shop.
And he has seized on Frango mints, a cherished symbol of the State Street store and the source of a public relations fumble for Marshall Field’s earlier owner, Dayton Hudson, in the late 1990’s. Shortly after buying the chain, Dayton Hudson outsourced the mint’s production, laying off about 150 local workers and earning a very public rebuke from Mayor Richard M. Daley.
No wonder, perhaps, that at a luncheon in July that was expected to reveal long-simmering tensions over the Marshall Field’s name change, Mr. Lundgren announced that Macy’s would begin manufacturing Frango-mint-flavored cheesecakes in Chicago, a headline that dominated local newspapers the next day.
At the end of the lunch, members of the audience swarmed around the 54-year-old Mr. Lundgren, a silver-haired, meticulously groomed former Neiman Marcus executive. Several asked for his autograph.
“Very smooth,” was the verdict of one attendee, John S. Maxson, president of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, which represents 700 businesses in downtown Chicago. “Were this not handled as expertly as it has been, it could have been a big disaster. It has not been.”
Although Mr. Lundgren is credited with improving Federated’s financial performance, the company is by no means a runaway success. Before it bought May, it reported sluggish sales growth for several years. Bolstered in part by the merger, its earnings have improved; in the 12 months ended in January, revenue was $22.3 billion and profit was $6.5 billion.
All the more reason that Mr. Lundgren insists on sticking to the most disputed part of his plan, the name changes. The May department store chains, Federated executives maintain, have buried consumers under a blizzard of coupons and flustered them with crowded aisles of middle-brow fashions. As a result, the chains lost their relevance as purveyors of style and, with it, their ties to the community.
To prove the point, Mr. Lundgren tells a story. Soon after Federated disclosed that Marshall Field’s, an upscale Midwest department store, would lose its name, scores of shoppers wrote blistering letters to the company, with several threatening to cut up their Field’s charge cards.
Worried that the reaction might be widespread and hurt the chain’s sales, Mr. Lundgren asked the accounting department to pull the purchase records of the first 100 letter writers. “There was no activity,” he said. “Or incredibly little activity.”
“This is where the tension was coming from,” he continued. “There was a group of people who did not want a change. But do they like the merchandise in the store? Not according to their spending. In their letters, they talked about when they were a child. But nobody was talking in the present tense.”
The lesson was clear: changing the name was unlikely to hurt sales. In fact, it might improve them. Then there is the pure financial logic. The conversion to Macy’s will save Federated millions on advertising — one name is cheaper to market than 11 — and create one national brand with stronger negotiating power with clothing suppliers.
Mr. Lundgren said that power had already translated into exclusive product lines for Macy’s, which is trying to shake its reputation as a stodgy, midprice department store by carrying higher-priced, more fashionable brands. After the merger, Martha Stewart said she would develop an upscale furniture line for the chain — much to the chagrin of Kmart, which carries her Martha Stewart Everyday products — while the designer Elie Tahari agreed to create a collection of women’s clothing.
Mr. Lundgren’s commitment to stock more upscale merchandise has become a major selling point in his campaign to sell local political leaders on the Macy’s takeover. For years, officials in St. Louis, Washington and Portland have complained that May dumped cheap goods into their downtown stores.
“It was heartbreaking to watch,” said Mr. Frank, the Meier & Frank scion, who waged a bitter — and unsuccessful — battle to stop his family from selling the chain to May in the 1960’s. “Row after row of sales merchandise just turned people off.”
In their early conversations, Mr. Lundgren told Mr. Frank he would try to restore the luster to the Meier & Frank legacy, investing in elegant new store fixtures and more prestigious clothing brands. But Mr. Frank, at one time the chief of staff to the former Oregon Senator Mark O. Hatfield, a confidant of the Oregon governor and a columnist for the state’s largest newspaper, still opposed the name change.
Upsetting Mr. Frank could mean upsetting much of the Oregon political establishment, so Mr. Lundgren took his charm offensive on the road. He and his wife, Tina, attended a charity dinner in Mr. Frank’s honor in Portland, writing a donation check on the spot. He later invited Mr. Frank to lunch in New York City.
Mr. Lundgren also began exchanging frequent letters and e-mail messages with Mr. Frank, often venturing beyond business matters and speaking in strikingly personal terms. “Tina and I will be there for you if and when you ever need us,” concludes one e-mail message, which Mr. Frank shared with a reporter. “We both absolutely adore you.”
After Mr. Lundgren learned that a block in downtown Portland would be renamed “Meier & Frank Square,” he wrote: “Frankly (no pun intended), I would rather it be named Gerry Frank Square but we are all happy with the alternative. You are the very best.”
Mr. Lundgren has certainly let local leaders down, too. Shortly after Federated announced its plans to convert May stores into Macy’s, a team of political and business leaders from St Louis, where May is based, flew to New York to meet with Mr. Lundgren. In a conference room at Macy’s Herald Square store, they asked him to consider relocating Federated’s headquarters from Cincinnati to St. Louis, which would spare the city steep job losses. “I really appreciate this,” Mr. Lundgren recalled telling the group. “But we are not going to do this.”
In the end, the city lost several hundred jobs. But like their counterparts in Portland, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, St. Louis city leaders did not walk away empty-handed. Mr. Lundgren agreed to designate St. Louis the headquarters of Macy’s Midwest division, overseeing stores from Kansas City to New York, and to renovate the first floor of the city’s struggling downtown store. Mr. Lundgren delivered each piece of news himself, either in person or by phone.
To Mr. Slay, the mayor of St. Louis, the experience must have seemed strangely familiar. “That is,” he said, “a political approach.”
Correction: Aug. 29, 2006
Because of an editing error, a front-page article on Saturday about efforts by the May and Federated department store companies to appease local concerns as they replace 11 regional chains with Macy’s stores misidentified the Chicago mayor who rebuked Dayton Hudson, the owner of Marshall Field’s, when he outsourced the production of its famous Frango mints in the late 1990’s — a decision the new owners plan to reverse. It was Richard M. Daley, the current mayor, not his father, Richard J. Daley, who served as mayor from 1955 until his death in 1976.
Aug 31, 2006, 11:45 PM
why are they removing the trees?
did this already get answered? oh well. they have to remove the trees to get the equiptment to the desired location. but when they are done they are required to replant trees of the same size. also interesting tidbit: if you are remodeling a building with no trees in front it you are required to plant trees as part of the remodel
Sep 1, 2006, 5:46 AM
Great article, a classic really, from the NYTimes (post 71) giving an example of how things are done in the big leagues. The absurdly sentimental exchange between Lundgren and Gerry Frank is pretty nauseating, but indulging in it aparrently helped them get something done that retains a shred of the integrity that this biggest and most significant of Portland's department stores represented to the city and its generations of residents over the decades.
Being aware of this kind of chemistry between people of power and influence can be a key factor in getting things accomplished.
Sep 1, 2006, 2:55 PM
It's 'The Nines,' by design
Naming the hotel atop Macy's store aligns with its goals of fashion, style
Friday, September 01, 2006
There was a time when, if a woman went downtown to Meier & Frank looking for style, she also showed off her own.
You might have said she was dressed to the nines.
That saying is the inspiration behind the naming of Portland's newest large-scale hotel, currently under construction in the upper floors of the department store building.
The hotel will be known as The Nines, a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel. The developer and hotel operator, Sage Hospitality Resources, was looking for a name that would distinguish the property from other hotels in historic buildings while also paying homage to the traditions and history of the National Register Historic Landmark.
"The interior design of the hotel is really about style and fashion, so is the traditional identity for the building," said Brad Robinette, senior vice president for Denver-based Sage Hospitality. "Meier & Frank stood for style and fashion for the life of that department store . . . it will once again be dressed to the nines."
The naming announcement Thursday is an early sign of what will become of the full-block landmark at the epicenter of the city's downtown.
The developers shied away from adding to the local collection of hotels in old buildings named for historic figures. Instead, they aimed for an expression of the one-of-a-kind atmosphere they hope to achieve with an upper-floors location in a historic property topped by a rooftop lounge.
They hired Portland's Sockeye Creative to help come up with a name for the hotel, which replaces mostly vacant space that formerly housed offices for Meier & Frank. The team considered names with local history, such as Pettygrove and Lovejoy, two founders of Portland, and Meier or Frank, the founders of the department store that had origins in downtown dating to 1857.
"If we called the building Pettygrove it would line up with the Benson or the Heathman, and this property is really different, so we felt the name had to be different as well," said Andy Fraser, principal of Sockeye Creative.
Different is right, said Ed Dundon, a Portland hotel broker.
"I don't get the connection," Dundon said after a few more pointed off the cuff remarks. "To me it's strange, and I don't know what good it does them."
Marketing the name
Marketing, management and service will make the name mean something, Dundon said.
The moniker marks a play on the hotel's physical location, at the building's top nine floors. It will occupy floors six through 15, with no 13th floor.
The name appears to emphasize the hotel's intent on distinguishing itself from downtown competitors, said Elliot Maltz, marketing professor at Willamette University in Salem.
Branding requires getting consumers' attention and educating them on your message, Maltz said. The unusual name helps with attention, but the hotel will need a strong campaign that tells people what it means.
"Maybe they just want be different," he said. "Weird and different are close, so you have to be careful that you're not seen as weird, and that's the education part of it."
An advertising campaign will become even more important, he said. "It will depend almost entirely on their execution," Maltz said.
Reflecting on tradition
Gerry Frank, a descendant of one of the department store's founders, said he thinks the name is creative. But he said he hopes the hotel's restaurants and other amenities will respect the traditions of the store, which often included high-quality dining.
"We always had the best restaurant in town, and it's certainly my hope that they will recognize that and have a top quality restaurant that hopefully might relate back to the store," Frank said.
Sage Hospitality on Thursday said it will build an eighth-floor restaurant in an atrium, but said designs and format are still preliminary, though it will offer meals morning, noon and night.
The developers also said they would build a rooftop lounge that will offer views of Pioneer Courthouse Square. At the southwest corner of the roof, the lounge will offer indoor and outdoor dining for year-round business. The firm has hired Skylab Design Group of Portland, which designed the Dour Fir Lounge on East Burnside, known for its trendy modern design.
Architect Jeff Kovel said the rooftop lounge will be unlike anything Portlanders have experienced.
"The scale and quality level of this establishment and the services and setting will be unprecedented," Kovel said. "This restaurant is the biggest story in Portland restaurants since Bluehour."
Dylan Rivera: 503-221-8532; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sep 1, 2006, 5:38 PM
The Luxury Collection
I realize they wanted to invoke fashion but this name seems more appropriate for a women's department store clothing label rather than a hotel. Maybe if they dropped "the luxury collection" and said "luxury hotel"
Anyhow interesting about the lounge and restaurant which sound pretty good.
Sep 1, 2006, 6:06 PM
They can't change the Luxury Collection to anything else, it is the name of the Starwood brand that is managing it. Luxury Collection is Starwoods new top luxury brand.
Sep 1, 2006, 6:14 PM
Oooh! Skylab for the lounge! You can bet on it that it will be really awesome! Not to mention expensive! =P
Sep 1, 2006, 7:40 PM
'The Luxury Collection' is Starwood's top of the line properties. I used to work for Starwood at a Sheraton. To have one of just over 50 Luxury Collection Hotels in our city is a huuuge deal. They prefer the hills of Italy, historic properties of Paris, and Hawaii's premiere beaches. It says a lot about the confidence hotel operators have in our city as well as the confidence Starwood has in that property. This will become Portland's premier hotel....move over Benson, a new boy's in town!
Other Luxury Collection Hotels:
San Francisco's Palace Hotel
Italy's Grand Hotel, Florence
Sep 1, 2006, 8:06 PM
does seattle have one? :)
Sep 2, 2006, 12:33 AM
The Nines...I like the name. It's....beg pardon...hip...fine. I laughed at the comments from the salem professor and the portland hotel broker. The wisdom of the whole project, in terms of need for hotel space downtown, is reportedly questionable. Early in the planning phase, hotel people questioned the need for more hotel space downtown. Maybe the guy in the Dylan Rivera story is grumbling about the prospect of the new hotel cutting into his business.
I'm not super crazy about Skylab's stuff, but it was smart to get them for the rooftop lounge. Definitely the way to go to get something exciting and out of the mold.
Hey pdxtraveler, thanks for the input below. Nothing like a word from the street for getting the straight up.
Sep 2, 2006, 2:57 AM
I just want to say about the hotel market. I has been extremely strong this year. As a travel agent I have a hard time getting people rooms at times. The market has REALLY tightened up in the last year or so. By the time this is done we well probably really need it.
Of course I think the Convention Center Hotel is more needed.
Sep 10, 2006, 5:10 PM
well i guess its officially macys now
apparently macys ranks the stores as either... "best" (macys top quality), "better" (macys middle quality) or "good" (macys lowest quality) based on the demographics of the store for the quality of merchandise stocked.
Washington Square is "best" and the only one in this category in the region. Downtown is "good" along with Vancouver, WA. Lloyd Center, Clackamas Towne Center and Streets of Tanasbourne is "better."
Sep 26, 2006, 5:53 PM
Macy's may close for upgrade
Keeping the downtown store open could add a year to the remodeling project
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
LAURA GUNDERSON and DYLAN RIVERA
Macy's is considering closing its downtown Portland store temporarily to speed a complex overhaul the company said could soon fall a year behind schedule.
Construction on the former Meier & Frank flagship on Southwest Fifth Avenue, which includes a store renovation and the creation of a hotel on floors six through 15, was supposed to finish with the store opening at the end of 2007 and the hotel in summer 2008.
However, officials with Macy's parent Federated Department Stores Inc. said Monday that if they keep the store's first five floors open during construction, the store won't be complete until late 2008.
The possibility of closing the store during construction would reverse months of insistence by Macy's that it stay open, regardless of the difficulties for employees and construction contractors. Company management said staying open, despite substandard lighting on some floors, periodic relocations of merchandise and other quirks of construction, would help it retain downtown shoppers.
"Despite our best efforts, we have come to realize that we cannot offer our customers the best of the Macy's shopping experience when most of the building is under construction," said R.B. Harrison, president and chief operating officer of Macy's Northwest.
Sage Hospitality Resources, the Denver-based developer of the upper-floors hotel, said its plans for a summer 2008 opening have not changed.
Though it looks from the outside like a single structure, the building was erected in three phases from 1909 to 1932, and dated construction documents don't appear to be complete. Floors from various additions don't line up, and old architectural documents don't accurately show where columns and other elements are located.
Also, a merger between Federated and Meier & Frank owner May Department Stores Co. delayed some design work on the retail portion. Architects were converting plans for a renovated Meier & Frank store to those for a new Macy's store as recently as August, after demolition had begun in the spring.
Federated plans to make a decision by the end of October on whether to close the store through the construction work, said Kimberly Reason, spokeswoman for Macy's Northwest.
If the doors are closed, the downtown store's 150 full- and part-time employees would be moved to other Portland-area Macy's sites.
Reason said employees who have been working in the downtown store have many questions about the pending decision, specifically when they will know more.
"But since they've been in the store and are living it day to day, the associates could see it coming. They were not surprised," Reason said.
Construction contractors, architects and planners working on the project have asked why the store couldn't close during construction, said Bruce Parsons, an architect with Linane/Drews Architects of Burbank, Calif., which is designing the remodel for Federated.
"That's completely up to Federated," Parsons said Monday. "They're getting pressure from everybody to shut the store down and they don't want to because they want to keep it open to sell merchandise."
Keeping the store open has required construction workers to perform most demolition and other noisy tasks early in the morning or at night, when the store is closed, store officials have said.
Those measures add costs and complexity to any project, especially one in which two developers each have their own general contractor working in the same building. Federated has hired S.D. Deacon Corp. as its general contractor, and hotel developer Sage has hired Portland-based Hoffman Construction Co.
"In a project like this, there's a lot more going on than some of us realized initially," Parsons said.
Though store managers say the downtown Macy's overall sales have remained steady through demolition work, some departments have fared worse than others.
Sales of women's shoes have sunk, in part because that section of the first floor is partly cut off by walls that block the southeast corner of the floor.
Shoe sales associate Jessica Harrison said last month, before the change from Meier & Frank to Macy's, that her commissions have fallen by more than half since renovation began.
"Quieter doesn't even describe it," Harrison said. "It's been dead."
Downtown store managers said they have added signs directing customers to departments such as women's shoes. Most employees don't work only for commission, and those who do, such as in women's shoes, also earn a salary, which offsets some slumping commissions, managers said.
The potential for a closing wouldn't give Santa the boot. Macy's officials still plan to build Santaland this year, but changes in construction have moved it out of the basement, as originally planned.
Dylan Rivera: 503-221-8532; email@example.com
Nov 18, 2006, 6:33 AM
the tower crane for this is going up tomorrow morning
Nov 20, 2006, 8:48 AM
Nov 20, 2006, 6:57 PM
Crane is now up... :tup:
Nov 20, 2006, 9:30 PM
I was working when they were putting it up, I so wanted to not go back to work and just watch it go up. I am such a kid at heart when I see things like this.
Nov 20, 2006, 9:33 PM
Renovating an icon: A fresh Meier & Frank Building
Two architectural teams, plus two contractors, equals one complicated project
Portland Business Journal - November 17, 2006
by Barry Finnemore
Over lunch a few years ago, architect Don Eggleston and structural engineer Blake Patsy brainstormed a key design element for converting downtown Portland's venerable Meier & Frank Building into a combination hotel and department store.
Sketching ideas on a restaurant napkin, Eggleston, a principal with Portland's Sera Architects Inc., and Patsy, a principal with KPFF Consulting Engineers, discussed ways to upgrade the building to meet seismic code while it was occupied. They believed shock absorber-like viscous dampers that absorb the energy of an earthquake would be the most viable option.
At the time, neither firm had been hired to work on the renovation, though breathing new life into the building -- considered a linchpin to ensure a vibrant downtown retail area -- was a goal of the city of Portland and the building's then-owner, the May Co.
The dampers, Eggleston and Patsy reasoned, had numerous advantages: They were cost-effective, minimized the need to upgrade the building's ornate exterior terra cotta and could be installed as renovation progressed, allowing for flexibility in construction sequencing. The dampers also accommodate multiple building uses, an advantage over other seismic solutions such as concrete shear walls that must run vertically through a structure from top to bottom.
As it turns out, Sera and KPFF are part of the design and construction teams renovating the full-block, 600,000-square-foot building, which will accommodate a nine-level hotel atop a five-level Macy's department store. And the viscous dampers became the seismic solution of choice.
Construction work is well under way on what has been called an incredibly complex project. It involves two general contractors creating new spaces for two clients on a constrained site, bordered on the east and west by the transit mall -- itself undergoing improvements to accommodate a future light-rail line -- and on the south side by the existing light-rail line. The project also is seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Federated Department Stores Inc., with S.D. Deacon Corp. of Oregon as general contractor, is developing the new Macy's store; Sage Hospitality Resources, with Hoffman Construction Co., is developing the 332-room Starwood Luxury Collection hotel that also will feature a 7,200-square-foot ballroom, meeting space, a restaurant and rooftop lounge.
Sage and Federated have revamped historic properties in other markets, but the Meier & Frank Building renovation is unique for both companies given the mix of uses being developed concurrently.
Brad Robinette, senior vice president of revenue growth services for Denver-based Sage, a privately held hotel management and development company, described Portland as an attractive hotel market because it is in the middle of what he called a strong, sustained recovery since the September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Beyond that, Sage -- which specializes in historic renovations and adaptive reuse -- considered the building's location in the downtown retail core, near Pioneer Courthouse Square, optimum, he said.
"It really could not have been a better situation in an urban area," Robinette said.
Added Kimberly Reason, Macy's Northwest director of corporate communications and media relations: "We are very excited about the remodel and happy to be part of something we and Portlanders regard as an important element in keeping the downtown vital."
The project's very characteristics -- an urban site, a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the extent of the renovation -- present the most significant project challenges, said Sera's Eggleston, project manager for the hotel's design.
The hotel plans call for cutting an atrium into the building to create floor plates that accommodate the desired double-loaded corridors, with guest rooms featuring windows that overlook either the city or the glass-topped atrium. The ballroom will be built at the lowest level of the "cutout," and the building's gap-toothed upper floors will be built out to create a unified top.
Eggleston described the property, which dates back a century, as in "remarkably good shape" but in need of an upgrade. Its grey-white terra cotta skin will be refurbished as part of the renovation.
The building's 432 viscous dampers, measuring 10 to 15 inches in diameter and 3 to 4 feet long, will be installed along the structural steel frame between columns in both the hotel and department store. Among their myriad benefits is that the dampers can be installed as the projects progress, strengthening the building to withstand earthquakes even as the retail space remains open and occupied.
Macy's is renovating a basement level and five stories of retail space. The ground-level façade also is slated for improvements. Amenities considered icons, including the first-floor historic clock, will be refurbished. In a nod to the building's past, the block on which the building sits has been renamed Meier & Frank Square.
The building has held a few surprises for design and construction teams. In some cases, structural elements didn't match old drawings. First-floor columns, for example, were sized differently than drawings indicated, said Macy's Reason.
She said crews are revamping plans and reordering materials "based on what we're finding."
Site constraints also have presented challenges. Scott Conrad, Sage Hospitality's director of design and construction, said a "site staging and utilization plan" developed with the involvement of TriMet and the city has paid dividends in terms of coordinating the projects and limiting impacts. For example, staging for hotel construction is along Southwest Sixth Avenue, while staging for the department store is along Southwest Fifth; projects also share staging space along one lane of Southwest Alder Street.
Eighteen months of planning, as well as weekly coordination meetings between Hoffman and S.D. Deacon, have helped streamline the projects, Conrad said.
"It's a classic example of an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure," he said.
The hotel, to be called The Nines, is on schedule to open in summer 2008. But the department store renovation, originally due for completion in late 2007, has faced delays because of construction issues. Macy's announced Nov. 14 that it will close the store effective Dec. 30 -- after the Christmas shopping season -- and reopen it in late 2007.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 503-274-8733
Nov 20, 2006, 9:40 PM
it also doesn't help that it is actually two buildings from two different time periods of construction. found that out from one of the guys working on the building.
The part I am most happy about is all that crap on the top of the building that was half-assly added to the building will have to go.
Nov 21, 2006, 7:30 AM
Actually, it's 3 buildings...
Nov 21, 2006, 8:24 AM
Actually, it's 3 buildings...
really, that is cool.
Dec 26, 2006, 5:38 PM
Demolition to The Nines
by Kennedy Smith
The former Meier & Frank building, covered in scaffolding and emitting the familiar construction-related clanking, banging, grinding and buzzing, is alive with activity as Hoffman Construction works to transform the upper 10 floors of the 100-year-old building into a luxury hotel, The Nines
Hoffman is working alongside contractor S.D. Deacon on the building – Hoffman is in charge of the hotel renovation and Deacon will work on the lower floors, dedicated to retail space occupied by Macy’s. The store will close at the end of the year as more intense demolition and renovation begins.
The structure is an experiment in duality – Hoffman working with S.D. Deacon, and historic preservation aligning with the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Environmental Design silver rating standards.
Brian Craner, a project engineer, walks the grounds, pointing to the debris chute and several bins of material ready for recycling.
“What’s happening right now is primarily demolition, getting into the structure,” he says. “We spent the majority of the fall going through and tearing down the existing partitions, moving out furnishings and equipment and working on old piping systems – basically tearing apart the structure and getting ready for the structural upgrades by removing big portions of it.”
DJC: Where does the debris go?
Brian Craner: It all gets sorted out here by the type of material, whether concrete, metals or wood, and they’ll be going to their respective recycling facilities. Because this is a LEED project, we’re going through the recycling process.
• • • •
CRANER CONTINUES his pace as he heads up a set of temporary stairs onto an industrial elevator that will eventually lead to the 13th floor. The elevator halts and the door slides up to reveal what looks like a contained war zone – tubes, hoses, columns, hanging wires, piles of wood and concrete. The two most noticeable features are the gaping hole in the ceiling where the mezzanine will be, and the fact that there’s mud on the floor.
• • • •
DJC: What are we looking at here?
Craner: This is the 13th floor. We always joke about the existing floor labels and the new ones, because they change. Are you on the old 12 or the new 12? This 13 will eventually become level 12.
The building was built in phases – the northwest quadrant was basically 1908, the east side was built in 1914, and the block got filled in around 1930 – so when you go around you see a lot of different structural types, which really has been our big challenge.
When you come up and do a work activity and you’re trying to work with a structure, you think you have a rhythm down or an understanding. Then you move 20 feet and it’s a completely different era of construction. Instead of beams like this (Craner points to concrete beam), you might have a totally different deck structure. When we go down to the lower floors, you’ll see the columns down below are different eras of steel, from rolled shapes to built-up shapes. Once you get into the structure you start seeing all these different things, so there’s not necessarily a rule of thumb that you can apply to the entire building.
• • • •
CRANER WALKS TOWARD the hole in the ceiling, where the roof is exposed, showing a mish-mash of HVAC systems, fans and utility boxes that have been plopped on top of the building throughout the years.
• • • •
Craner: This is our first push on taking the roof off. You can see up top, in the 1960s, somebody came in and did a bunch of renovations to the building to include putting an air handler on top of the building, and you find a lot of ductwork throughout, so we’re working on that. As we work our way down the roof, we work our way down to the history of the building.
You see all these doghouses and rooftop penthouses that were added on over the years.
DJC: How does mud get on the 13th floor?
Craner: In that space there used to be an old fur locker, and the ladies from town would come in right before the summer and turn them in to have them kept in cool storage over the summer. That space was aligned with thick cork walls for insulation, and this has been ground down with other materials, and that’s what we’re stepping in.
DJC: When you’re doing a project like this, you have to consider historical preservation. How do you demolish something but also make sure you’re preserving certain parts from the past?
Craner: The design team and their consultants have provided guidance in regard to what will stay and what is considered historical, and what the National Parks Service registrar of landmarks considers historical.
The whole façade essentially is considered historical. It’s terra cotta, so there will be some somewhat surgical demolition activity where we’re coming up to the face of the building and we’re moving some old structure but having to preserve the terra cotta façade.
Another aspect of the preservation is the Georgian Room, which has been here for years. We put a lot of effort into salvaging the trim and other aspects of that room that were considered historic, so we can bring them back and incorporate them into the new space. We’re mainly directed and guided by the design team, and we work hard to fulfill those requirements.
• • • •
UNLIKE the lower floors, the 13th still has a bit of demolition to go before upgrades can begin.
• • • •
DJC: What phase are you in here?
Craner: The structure of this building is a concrete-encased steel structure. The concrete was used as fireproofing but really doesn’t have a structural body to it, so we have to go in here and upgrade the columns, the brace frames, the connection plates. As a precursor to that, the demolition crew comes in and starts removing the concrete so that our ironworkers can come in and make the upgrades. That’s the phase that we’re getting into right now. The rooftop demolition and selective demolition will pave the way for the ironworkers, and then we’ll come back and work our way down from the atrium.
DJC: People think of demolition as going at a wall with a wrecking ball, it’s but more meticulous than that, right?
Craner: There is some of that, but you’re also looking to preserve the steel and create a workable surface. You’re working on demolishing next to items that are going to stay as critical structural components. It does take an extra level of care.
There’s this balance, where you want to keep the speed and momentum up, and then you get into the more detailed work, which slows the pace a little bit.
DJC: What’s your favorite part of doing a renovation like this?
Craner: I like the structural upgrade portion; it’s a sophisticated system of damper frames, a little different from traditional brace frames. There are pistons inside the damper frames that will slow down the building seismically. It’s all about taking the building down to its simplest form and building it back up, which is very exciting.
Like I said, it was built in three eras, so you just saw 1908, which was built at a shorter elevation than the rest of the structure. When we come through and do our rooftop demolition, we’re coming down to an elevation on three quarters of it, but that northwest corner comes down a little further, and when we build it back up it will get a new façade.
• • • •
WHILE CRANER explains the process, he descends to lower levels – ones that look a bit clearer but still dusty. He points to an area near the center of the floor, indicating that’s where the mezzanine will be. Soon, this – the eighth floor and all those above – will feature a huge, gaping hole, just like what the 13th level already has.
• • • •
DJC: With all the different eras this building was constructed, it must be like constant problem-solving when it comes to demolition.
Craner: Right. The design team puts out a set of documents and they do a very good job with historical prints, but there’s only so much you can gain from that. Then we have conversations with them about what we’re finding out and they address it as we go. All of our subcontractors are working with the talent of the design team to keep moving it forward.
Like right here (Craner points along a beam in the ceiling), we might be going along doing demolition and we think we have it figured out and then it changes just like that.
DJC: You’re working from the top down, right?
Craner: The flow of work is based on how we have the floors turned over to us by the store. It’s sort of an opportunistic way of getting the flow down, in the early stages. But obviously with the atrium, we’ll be working from the top down, letting gravity work for us. That will be the ideal flow.
DJC: It seems like a daunting task.
Craner: Yes, it’s sort of an art. You get to a certain point where you see dust and debris, and you have to ask yourself whether you’ll ever get this thing clean enough for people to actually come and stay, but it’ll get there. It just takes time and effort.
DJC: Have you been sharing information about what you’ve found with Deacon?
Craner: Yes. We have weekly coordination meetings. It’s a unique project. I’m not sure anybody’s done a project like this before, two (contractors) occupying the same building. We have systems running through their floors, so we have to be intimately coordinated.
Early on, both contractors had a good understanding of how we would be working together throughout. We both knew nobody was going to benefit from lack of coordination.
Jan 29, 2007, 12:38 AM
Jan 29, 2007, 3:22 AM
me and my friends visited that store last summer - it was dreadful - hardly any customers and the merchandise was pretty bad - the lighting was awful - some of the sealed off floors was weird
my friend didn't like the washrooms - lol - apparently he didn't like the half doors for the toilets when he had to do a #2 and people could look at him doing so - lol
i was also surprised how dead some of the streets around it were considering how bustling that mall was - the one with saks etc. was just packed - we were wandering around town thinking why is it so quiet and than we went in that mall and were like oh - so this is where everyone is
Jan 29, 2007, 11:03 PM
Meier and Frank's previous owners (name slips my mind at the moment) let key public impression items like the restrooms and store entrances decay or stagnate for years. (Compare them to Nordstrom's just one block away.) Once an association like that is made, it can be hard to reverse it. Hope the new owner and renovation does the trick.
Jan 29, 2007, 11:26 PM
I don't believe there was an ownership change. I think it is just a name change to Macy's
Jan 29, 2007, 11:30 PM
I don't believe there was an ownership change. I think it is just a name change to Macy's
The former owner of Meier & Frank, The May Company (of St. Louis) was acquired by Federated Department Stores (of Cincinnati, OH) about a year ago. So there was first a change in ownership, then a change in name.
Jan 29, 2007, 11:31 PM
I stand corrected. Didn't May also own Macy's?
Jan 29, 2007, 11:39 PM
^nope, their 'main' store was Robinson-May....
Mar 8, 2007, 5:36 PM
Meier and Frank + crane last night.
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