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Unsolicited Advice: Replacing Macy's

We had been preparing unsolicited advice that the downtown Macy’s was overdue for a thorough remodeling. Before we could get that out, Macy’s announced in January it was closing the store. The doors lock some time this month.



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Photo: Erik Ries

 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

We’ve emailed the building’s owners, Lexington Realty Trust, which acquired it for nearly $35 million in 2006. They’ve haven’t replied, as of press time. The consensus around town is that the site seems destined for some mix of residential and retail.

 

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN NEXT?

Apartments, absolutely, especially market value and not just luxury pads. The Chinatown/downtown gentrification we all seem to want needs more neighbors in the neighborhood.

Ground-floor retail, dining and services would add a lot, too. The current building also includes public parking, a handy thing to retain.

But whatever activities go into this lot, the most beneficial step of all would be to tear down the building and construct something beautiful. The current structure was put up in 1979 as a sexy, modern home for Liberty House, but its severe look was unfriendly from the start and seems especially dated now—a Fortress of Retail, windowless and forbidding.

So, Lexington Realty Trust, you have a rare chance here to add something meaningful to the look, feel and function of downtown Honolulu at one of its most high-profile intersections. Please don’t blow it.

By the way, this isn’t the magazine’s first plea for beautification at this site. The June 1906 issue of Paradise of the Pacific, our predecessor, described the side of Bethel Street between King and Hotel streets (half of which is now occupied by the Macy’s building) as “an unsightly spectacle of corrugated iron shacks and fences—wholly antagonistic to the ‘city beautifying’ movement—that the labor of a few men can remove in a week.”

See? Chances like this come around about once a century.

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Honolulu Magazine November 2018
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