Today’s news:

Macy’s to spruce up Fulton Mall flagship — finally

The Brooklyn Paper

Officials at the Fulton Street Macy’s will transform the emporium’s ugly parking garage into a work of art, after city officials, shoppers and residents demanded that the store’s shabby façade better fit into a Fulton Mall that’s evolving from low-end to upmarket retail.

Macy’s employees have also replaced poster-covered windows on Fulton Street with open displays, and installed new signage, awnings, lighting, carpeting and paint.

“They are showing Brooklyn consumers and their customers respect — absolute respect,” said Borough President Markowitz. “One of the major ways they did it was to really lighten it up in there, make it a much more positive shopping environment.”

In recent years, as the Fulton Mall ushered in new and higher-end development, Macy’s remained enough of an eyesore that local store and property owners spurned it, and Markowitz and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership held an intervention.

“The city brought some things to our attention and asked us to change things,” said Ed Goldberg, a vice president at Macy’s. “One was the façade of the garage, and we all agreed.”

Steve Powers and 12 other local artists will paint a mural on the Hoyt Street garage this summer, covering its Hoyt, Livingston, and Fulton Street facades with text featuring “community catchphrases” painted in a simple, easy-to-read font. The artists and locals will decide on the color scheme.

The decrepit parking lot is a physical reminder of Fulton Mall’s dark days. Back in the 1970s, when Abraham & Straus was in the flagship location, many big retailers, including J.W. Mays, EJ Korvette, and Martin’s, had abandoned Fulton Street — taking away the foot traffic that kept small businesses afloat.

The ripple effect made the mall even worse, as vacant storefronts became backdrops for gang fights, muggings and drug deals.

City officials have tried various urban renewal schemes over the years, but only in the last decade has a change finally taken hold.

Now, the future looks brighter — or, some opponents say, whiter — than ever, thanks to new arrivals such as Aeropostale, H&M, Filene’s Basement, and a Shake Shack.

“National and regional retailers are looking at Fulton Street as a place to do business,” said Michael Burke, chief operating officer of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “It will become the place where every Brooklynite will want to shop.”

Lissette Rojano, a City Tech student who grew up near Downtown, said she’s glad Macy’s has spruced up its look.

“Everything is finally changing for the better,” Rojano said. “This used to be an area that didn’t have too much class.”

Updated 4:57 pm, May 18, 2011: Now clarifies the situation and timeframe on Fulton Mall in the 1970s.
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Reader Feedback

Cynthia from forte green says:
Exactly " whiter" gentrification. Which is not bad,makes the area better
May 17, 2011, 2:46 am
al pankin from downtown says:
when macys was A&S it was a well kept beautiful store, the management of the store had their offices in the store and the executives who ran the store were there on a daily basis..when Macy's relocated the managemant to Manhattan the store was let to run into the ground...it's about time some attention was given to the Fulton st. store..maybe the chain should shift some managemant back to Brooklyn..
May 17, 2011, 7:35 am
Cheryl from Prospect Lefferts Gardens says:
One correction to the article: Macy's did not take over A&S until 1995. It's good to hear they are finally sprucing things up. Hope Macy's hires more staff, as well, since it's annoying to wait on a long line with few check-out stations available. Also looking for better quality clothing!
May 17, 2011, 8:50 am
Anne B from Carroll Gardens says:
Glad to hear. This is most depressing Macy's in the country. Poorly stocked, understaffed, ugly drop ceiling reno from decades ago, an atmosphere that could make you suicidal.
May 17, 2011, 9:30 am
jt from crown heights says:
why would anyone "oppose" new stores that bring jobs and people downtown? this is good news all around!
May 17, 2011, 10:01 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
actually Federated which owned A and S bought Macys. they ultimately decided that one brand name countrywide was most appropriate.....
May 17, 2011, 10:55 am
vee from park slope says:
It is a crime what Federated did to the beautiful
flagship A & S building. Remember the elevators?
The high ceilings? The beautiful fresh flowers throughout the store wth spectacular arrangement near the elevator bank on the first floor? I moved to Brooklyn in the '70's while the downtown area was in decline, but the independent A & S was always beautiful and a treat to visit. It was THE reason to visit the downtown area. Alas, no longer All individuality has been lost in their corporate suburban mindset.
May 17, 2011, 12:54 pm
steve from downtown says:
Lets not forget another major factor that led to the decline of Fulton/Livingston Streets: the City, under the wisdom and leadership of then Mayor Dinkins, decided a parole station would be a good idea for the shopping experience. What a pleasure it was, and is, to see ex-cons congragating around Livinston and Nevins. Oh, and let's not forget that homeless shelter on Bond, and the Welfare offices on Hoyt. Great for business !
May 17, 2011, 4:02 pm
lORI says:
Anytime you beatify an area it is good for business. Good article.
May 17, 2011, 6:53 pm
avraham from ny says:
Exhibit A in the case against Federated is Macy's Herald Square. What an absolute shame to see what a tacky dump it has become. If you recall the old Cellar--check out the new one which is redolent with the stink of hospital food.
May 18, 2011, 12:56 am
Gabriel from Altamonte Springs says:
Are the plaques detailing the history of Abraham and Straus still in place?
May 18, 2011, 1:03 am
steve from downtown says:
Speaking of plaques: If the City/MTA were smart
( yeh, I know ) , they would allow a plaque outside the Hoyt Subway station commemorating the filming of M.Jackson's Thriller album. Good tourist destination
( yeh, I know ). So, Let's start a letter writing compaign to City Hall. ...Gersh ?
May 18, 2011, 10:58 am

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