Some preservationists not happy about changes
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/10/2012 -- Macy’s plans to overhaul its flagship store, swapping Art Deco touches for a 21st-century look some preservationists decry as reminiscent of Apple computer stores.
"Macy's has Apple fever," said Theodore Grunewald, a New York preservation activist. "Everyone is jealous of Apple, and thinks the secret to the company's success is this beautiful, elegant minimalist design vocabulary they have. But this is about protection of our heritage."
The Macy’s remodel, which contractors aim to complete in 2015, will add 100,000 square feet to the 1.1 million feet of current retail space. Work has begun, with several sections of the store hidden by floor-to-ceiling curtains as they undergo reconstruction. The women’s shoe department is among the first sections to be completed.
According to Elina Kazan, Macy’s spokeswoman, the store will be a "spectacular place to shop at an iconic New York City destination."
Nearly 20 million people visit the New York Macy’s store each year. The building boasts nine floors of retail space covering almost an entire city block from West 34th Street to West 35th Street, between Seventh Avenue and Broadway.
Most Americans know the building as headquarters to the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade as well as the setting of the classic 1947 holiday film,"Miracle on 34th Street."
Built in 1902, the building originally featured the Beaux Arts style. When it was expanded in the 1930s, it sported many Art Deco touches, including marble-encased columns.
The new look will see those columns lose their marble coatings.
Although Macy’s has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978, it was never given landmark designation, which allows the buildings owners to make architectural modifications.
"I was stunned they were doing this, making it look like everywhere else in America when they have a little treasure here," said preservationist Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City.
Macy’s officials dispute the Apple store comparisons and say the renovations will actually capitalize on some of the structure’s historic features.
Macy's officials said it was premature to compare the renovation to Apple since it is still a work in progress. They said that the plan actually revives some of the building's distinctive features.
"Macy's asked us to bring back the grandeur of the original store, and whenever there's true historic fabric, to restore it,” said Jay Valgora, chief renovation architect.
He said the original, elaborate 34th Street entrance will be revived, several sizeable old windows that had been painted over have been reopened and 42 of the store’s original escalators will be preserved.
Regarding the portions of the store that have been renovated, Rosie Pina, a Manhattan school teacher said, “I like it - how organized and open it is. Change is good.”
Brian Williams, a sports club technician from Queens, said, “"I'm a male, and I don't really care how it looks when I'm shopping.” On second thought, he added, "I like the older better — it feels warmer, more at home."
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