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Macy’s to close downtown Minneapolis store

Plus: new judge assigned to case of officer who shot Philando Castile; Jerry Kill slams U of M for Claeys firing; Minneapolis violent crime numbers rise in 2016; and more.

Entrance to the downtown Minneapolis Macy's store.
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

As for the national view of Macy’s big announcement, Charisse Jones at USA Today writes, “After seeing sales drop during the holidays, Macy’s said Wednesday it has either closed or will shutter 68 stores and cut an additional 6,200 positions at a time when shoppers are going online to buy everything from scarves to lipstick. Of the 68 stores out of 730 in total, nine closings had been previously announced and three locations have already shut down. But the retail giant revealed the locations of the remaining 59 stores, which will be shuttered by the middle of this year and affect 3,900 employees, some of whom may be offered jobs at other locations. The locations span the country, from Florida to Oregon. … Some, however, are historic or have been around for decades. Macy’s said it will shutter its store in downtown Minneapolis opened in 1902, where it has 280 employees.”

Suzanne Kapner at The Wall Street Journal says, “Analysts generally expect the recently completed holiday season to be a strong one for U.S. retailers, helped by higher wages, lower gas prices and rising employment. The National Retail Federation, for instance, expects retail sales increased 3.6%, more than the 3% gain of a year ago. But much of the growth has come online. Mastercard SpendingPulse estimated that e-commerce spending jumped 19% during the holidays, compared with an overall 4% increase in retail spending. On Wednesday, Kohl’s warned that holiday results were weak, saying comparable sales declined 2.1% in the months of November and December from a year ago. The chain, which operates 1,100 stores, lowered its profit targets for the current year.” Maybe if they had stayed open on Christmas?

At Bloomberg, Nick Turner and Lindsey Rupp report, “Macy’s shares fell as much as 9.2 percent to $32.55 in late trading. That follows a 2.4 percent gain for the stock last year. Comparable-store sales declined 2.1 percent from a year earlier in November and December, the low end of its projections, the Cincinnati-based company said on Wednesday. It maintained its prediction that sales will decrease 2.5 percent to 3 percent for the full year, which lasts until the end of this month. The move to cut costs should generate annual savings of $550 million, beginning in 2017, Macy’s said. That’s higher than a previous goal of $500 announced in 2015.”

For the Strib, Kristin Leigh Painter says, “Macy’s Inc. is selling its downtown Minneapolis store and will close it in March, the company said Wednesday, bringing an end to more than a century of department store retailing in the heart of the city. The company agreed to sell the property, which consists of three buildings with a total of nearly 1 million square feet along Nicollet Mall, for more than $40 million to 601W Cos., a New York investment firm. Macy’s now fills only about half of the space. 601W plans to redevelop the buildings into a mix of office space, with large open floor plans, and lower-level retail space.”

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Also in the Strib, Nicole Norfleet writes, “For 601W Cos., the $40 million purchase of the Macy’s store in downtown Minneapolis is a relatively modest deal. The New York real estate investment firm has a history of flipping skyscrapers, making old buildings new again and working with retailers. … In one of its most lucrative deals, 601W sold the building where its is housed, the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Manhattan, for around $950 million in 2011. The group, which had originally purchased the 2.3 million-square-foot building in 1998 for $151.5 million, reaped a profit of $650 million after investments. The complex now has offices for retail and media brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Hugo Boss and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.”

MPR’s story has this: “Steve Cramer, president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said the development was not a surprise ‘in light of changes affecting downtown retailing across the nation.’ ‘For many years the former Dayton’s building has been an underutilized asset at the center of our business district, with hundreds of thousands of vacant square feet,’ he said in a statement. He added that the sale to 601W Companies is ‘an opportunity to revitalize this iconic structure in the heart of downtown.’”

Let’s see if Mr. Gray likes this one any better. Riham Feshir and Jon Collins at MPR report, “A new judge has been assigned to the case of the St. Anthony police officer charged in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile last summer. Judge William Leary III will preside over the trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez, who faces a second-degree manslaughter charge for shooting and killing Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6. Yanez is also charged with two felonies for dangerous discharge of a firearm during the incident. Yanez hasn’t yet entered a plea in the case. But defense attorney Earl Gray said his team doesn’t have a problem with Leary serving as judge.” Oh, so we’re off to a better start.

Elsewhere in litigation, MPR’s Brandt Williams writes, “Attorneys for Allen ‘Lance’ Scarsella, the man accused of shooting five people protesting the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark, argued that prosecutors shouldn’t be allowed to use a video of Scarsella at the protest site days before the shooting as evidence. The spat was one of several pretrial motions discussed at a hearing on Wednesday. Most measures were accepted by both the prosecution and defense — including one to bar witnesses or spectators from wearing Black Lives Matter or Jamar Clark T-shirts or buttons in the courtroom.” Don’t forget that “jury of his peers” business.

The U loses another fan. Marcus Fuller of the Strib has this news from former coach Jerry Kill. “Jerry Kill less than a year ago said, ‘I’ll always be a Gopher.’ That story has changed. On 1500-AM radio on Wednesday morning, the former Gophers football coach said he would not attend another game in TCF Bank Stadium because of how athletic director Mark Coyle and University President Eric Kaler handled the firing of coach Tracy Claeys on Tuesday. ‘I won’t be stepping foot back in the stadium,’ Kill told 1500-AM, ‘and I won’t be stepping back into the university.’”

The Strib editorializes, “This is not the first time a men’s athletic program has been embroiled in scandal. Even Sports Illustrated, which follows college sports all over the country, has asked, ‘Why does stuff like this keep happening at Minnesota’? Why indeed. That is the essential question that must be asked, answered and dealt with, and it’s going to take more than the firing of a coach who clearly was not able to put the interests of the university first. It takes more than winning on the field. It takes genuine leadership, from the top down. … .”  

Violent crime … up. Stribber Libor Jany says, “Violent crime in Minneapolis nudged up slightly in 2016, driven in large part by a wave of gang-on-gang bloodshed sweeping parts of the city, court filings and recently released police statistics show. An official tally showed 4,605 violent crime incidents — defined as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — reported across the city from the beginning of the year through Dec. 28, the last date for which citywide statistics were available. It was a 4.3 percent increase over 2015, which saw 4,417 such incidents.”

Today in protecting and serving. The AP story says, “A Kenosha [Wisconsin] police officer has been released from jail after he was charged with attacking a man he says was seeing his wife. A criminal complaint says that while on duty, Officer Kendal West attacked the man outside Kenosha Hospital Sunday where he worked as a physician, punched him several times and accelerated his squad car toward him. The complaint says West’s wife had served divorce papers on him earlier that day.” Couldn’t he just have fined the guy for expired tabs or something?

Yet another cruel blow to entrepreneurial job creators. The FOX 9 story says, “A Hennepin County District Judge is ordering Minnesota School of Business and Globe University to pay restitution to those who enrolled in the criminal justice program, which was falsely marketed to students. Hennepin County District Court Judge James Moore filed the order Wednesday. A lawsuit brought by the Minnesota Attorney General found MSB and Globe University misrepresented their criminal justice program by claiming it could train students to become police officers and probation officers. The program, however, was not certified by Minnesota’s policing board and did not meet other requirements. According to the officials in the Attorney General’s Office, 1200 students can file a claim to receive restitution for tuition, payments to the school for books, fees, and expenses, and interest or finance charges for student loans taken out to pay for tuition.”