Macy’s bigwigs today unveiled their newly remodeled location inside the historic Downtown buildings once home to Brooklyn’s beloved homegrown department store Abraham and Straus.
The retailer’s sleek new look followed three years of renovations that shoppers watched unfold with baited breath because the store stayed open throughout the makeover, according to its manager.
“We operated in less space, it was the only way we were able to stay open,” said Kizzie Tunson.
Contractors in 2015 broke ground on the job that required 30reconfiguring many of the store’s floors, which stretch across two adjoined Fulton Street buildings, a four-story, 1870s-era cast-iron structure, and a nine-story, 1930-built Art Deco tower next door.
The work required getting rid of office spaces on many of the floors in order to create open spaces that customers could easily move through, according to Tunson.
“There used to be all kinds of executive offices,” she said.
Reworking the store’s shoppable space, which Tunson said used to occupy eight levels of what she called “half floors,” resulted in a shrunken retailer with five distinct levels: a basement with furniture and home goods; a first floor with accessories and makeup, a second floor with men’s clothes, a third floor with women’s clothes, and a fourth floor with children’s clothes.
Workers also knocked down the retailer’s old escalators and rebuilt new ones in the center of the store, to make going up and down more convenient for patrons, Tunson said.
“The escalators are all new,” she said. “They are right in the middle of the store, as opposed to where they used to be in the corner.”
This reporter did not spot the antique ornate elevators that date back to the location’s A&S days on her pre-opening-day tour, and a rep for Macy’s did not immediately respond to a request about whether those also still shuttle shoppers around the store.
The makeover made room for some new brands among the store’s products, too, including fashion labels DKNY and Michael Kors, and makeup companies Kiehl’s, Mac, and Benefit Cosmetics, with the latter staffing two licensed aestheticians on site who can tweeze customers’ eyebrows, Tunson said.
Last month, Macy’s staff started knocking down the walls that cordoned off spaces under renovation, razing the last one this week, according to the manager.
“Every week we dropped a wall,” Tunson said.
The scaffolding outside the Fulton Street department store — a local eyesore since the job kicked off — will likely stay up until some time next year, however, due to builder Tishman Speyer’s ongoing transformation of the 1870s-era building Macy’s occupies, which the builder bought along with the department store’s graffiti-covered Hoyt Street parking garage in 2015 in a deal that helped fund the recent renovations.
The Manhattan-based firm is erecting a 51-story high-rise filled with 480 condominiums on the site of the old garage, which it hopes to open in 2020, and finishing work on the 14-story tower it is building on the site of the 1870s building, the bottom four levels of which incorporate Macy’s new above-ground floors, and the top ten levels of which will contain office space the company hopes to debut next year.