Macy's might leave Water Tower Place in Chicago but not because of the recent unrest and looting that saw stock at the retail giant's North Michigan Avenue store pilfered earlier this week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
"Macy's, as you know, has been struggling as a company all across the country for quite some time," Lightfoot said Friday during a press conference. "My understanding is that Macy's notified the property owners at Water Tower back in February that they probably were not going to renew their lease."
Macy's anchors the Water Tower Place mall on Michigan Avenue and was among countless stores targeted early Monday when hundreds of people showed up downtown and began breaking into businesses and stealing.
Reports this week suggested that this level of looting, coupled with unrest in May, caused the company to rethink its presence in the Chicago mall. Lightfoot said Friday that isn't the case.
"We've known that Macy's has been struggling," she said. "We have reached out to them ... repeatedly over the course of the last year to offer whatever supports that we can, but the reality is, as you've seen, whether it's Macy's, whether it's Sears, whether it's Kmart, whether it's other long-standing big box-retailers, the consumer preferences and buying has simply changed. And it's been a struggle for lots of different retailers to be able to adapt to this new economy."
Lightfoot said Macy's Water Tower decision came even before the coronavirus pandemic fully hit the area.
Macy's didn't immediately respond to NBC Chicago's request for comment on its future at the mall.
Ald. Brian Hopkins of the 2nd Ward said Macy's leaving would be "a devastating loss."
"It’s going to be a hole in Water Tower Place," Hopkins said. "It’s going to be a challenge to bring in a new tenant and fill that [space]."
After a second wave of violent looting early Monday morning, Macy’s and other Michigan Avenue locations boarded up their windows and locked their doors, and residents said Friday there is a sense of unease among shoppers along the Magnificent Mile.
Lightfoot said Friday she has a plan, along with the police department and the state's attorney, to crack down on looting, and that plan has the endorsement of the Magnificent Mile Association.
"We support the plan," said Rich Gamble, chairman of the Magnificent Mile Association, adding at Friday's press conference that Macy's absence would be a loss.
"Sure, if Macy's leaves Water Tower, that will be a significant significant blow," Gamble said. "I'm sure the folks at Water Tower are looking at trying to attract as many other prospective folks to lease their spaces there."