Restored Macy’s Store Reopens

1940s building had been closed for remodeling

Pasadena Star News, Posted: 11/22/08 12:32:53 AM PST

PASADENA – Confetti, champagne, the Rose Queen and some really big ribbon-cutting scissors greeted shoppers at Friday’s unveiling of the restored 1947-vintage Macy’s on South Lake Avenue.

The reopening came after an extensive seven-month restoration and earthquake retrofit – an eco-friendly project that came with a $15 million price tag.

Shoppers flooded every department late Friday afternoon.

“It looks great – and yes, I’ve missed it a lot,” said Giovanna Zuniga of Pasadena, juggling a glass of champagne and a single red rose. “I’ve been waiting many months for this.”

The decision was made about a year ago to renovate the mid-century former Bullocks store, which covers 2 acres and was one of the first in the nation designed specifically for customers coming to shop by car.

Originally, the plan was to stay open during the earthquake retrofit, said Jeff Gennette, chairman and CEO of Macy’s West, but it became clear it would be too dangerous and impractical to stay open.

“(Closing) gave us the opportunity to do something so much more, and to keep the spirit of the original store,” he said. Since Macy’s closed, the economy has taken a steep dive, but Gennette said he was confident shoppers will return, although they may find favorite departments – including shoes – have moved.

“We expect to do very, very well” with merchandise tailored to Pasadena customers, he said. “We did a lot of editing.”

Sue Mossman, executive director of Pasadena Heritage, praised the quality of the interior restoration, and said customers will see a big change.

“The overall impression will be that the store looks rejuvenated, lighter, freshened up,” Mossman said.

With new lighting, the restored historic details and fixtures – including hand-painted wallpaper, woodwork, murals, tapestries and chandeliers – are much easier to see and appreciate, she said.

Two long-boarded-up fireplaces have been restored, and 12 original windows have been opened up to bring in more natural light, she said.

“There are things you discover as you go through the store,” Mossman said. “It doesn’t look like it did in 1947, it looks like 2008. But the features you see as you go through make it unique and charming and a much different place to shop than the typical store.”

Mayor Bill Bogaard said the reopening was an important event for Pasadena.

“We’re grateful to Macy’s for the major investment in this store,” Bogaard said. “I think a lot of bad things had been done to it in the past 20 to 30 years, and they started by taking these things away.”

Longtime customer Peggy Hamlin of San Marino, who started shopping when it was still Bullocks, said Macy’s has done a “nice job,” and singled out the restored woodwork for praise.

“It’s lovely,” she said. “Now if I can just find where everything is.”

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