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mjcatl2

Nordstrom, again

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http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-re...h/s_405343.html

We'll see how this goes. I agree that it makes sense and that the L&T/Mellon would be perfect. I mean, the damage with public money was done, so how much public money would be needed to fill an empyt already refurbished store (outside of tax abatements etc). Certainly this is where the proximity of high end housing can pay off, as a customer base (not that the downtown housing is a large enough population by any means, but it sure helps).

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Hmm, I don't know how competitive Downtown would be when Nordstrom can have its pick of two vacant ready-made mall sites with ample parking in areas that alraedy suit its demographic (Ross Park and SHV).

I personally think Nordstrom would be great for the Pgh area no matter where it locates. For it to be successful, however, it would be better to have it in the suburbs. There just isn't the demographic right now for them to be in downtown Pgh. L&T didn't succeed there and enither did Lazarus. Meanwhile, Nordstrom would be a runaway success at either SHV or Ross Park. I'd rather Pgh have a Nordstrom's that's successful that try to get some downtown revitalization out of a Nordstrom that's not successful (which is what was done with L&T). If L&T had opened in SHV or Ross Park, it would probably still be around.

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Downtown makes sense if they are only going to open one store. By doing that they can draw from north, east, south, and west. If you stick it in the burbs, it will only draw people from that area. I liken Nordstroms to Saks. Saks has one store and it has been open for a long time (and they wan't a larger space). As was reported when it closed, L&T sold mostly the same things as the other department stores. People never went out of their way to go there.

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I think Nordstrom will land both Downtown and at South Hills. Reusing the Mellon/L&T spot makes it all the better.

With all the store closings Federated and May Company have wrought upon Western Pennsylvania, I think there's enough of a market for both locations.

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Nordstrom's would be a great fit for downtown, I know recently Ross Park Mall put them in their 2006 directories or something of that nature after long discussions with them, basically telling the world that it was as good as done. I am thankful that it didn't pan out, downtown really deserves the areas first Nordstrom's. It is funny to think that Pittsburgh was to have one of the first east coast Nordstrom's in the late 80's when the truly ironic circumstance of the city having a competeing bid with the Rooney family and neither one realizing it (or the depth of it), the Rooneys and Nordstrom families go way back, so you had the corporate suits dealing with the city and the family with their stock dealing with the Rooneys, what ended up was that the Pittsburgh location was delayed because of the confusion in bids and the family and suits trying to compete to live up to their own individual commitments (to the Rooneys and the city respectively). The recession of the 1990's and the explosion of some sunbelt cities in the mid-90's had Nordstrom's retract and then try to keep up with retail expansion in other areas, it never did get the time to iron out the Pittsburgh question. This might mean we come full circle now. ;)

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Let's not forget that most cities actually have their department stores in suburban malls, so it is not a given that if Nordstrom comes, that it would be downtown. Again the L&T building is sitting there, and they would be a true draw, unlike L&T which was Kaufmann's Plus. Having another high end store across the street (Saks) adds to the idea of a destination. If one of the new projects gets Tiffany and one or two nice retailers (like Crate, Restoration Hardware etc) then you have a destination district.

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Mj,

That's exactly what downtown is becoming (with help from SSW and NS). Your right that this is no way a slam dunk for DT that Simon properties (largest mall operator with most pull) such as Ross Park and Century III and even Monroeville could get it. I like what the PNC analyst said about entry into this market, that if he were Nordstrom's he'd want to draw from the widest audience and downtown is halfway to everywhere, whereas North Hillers don't usually make the trek all the way to Century III, same for South Hillers with Ross or West Hillers with Monroeville etc.

I am curious since the Rooneys had so much to do with the original discussions with Nordstroms in the 80's where they are behind the scenes on this, could they be keeping Pittsburgh on the radar screen of corporate? pushing a downtown or NS location? Perhaps the old family connections between Art and Old man Nordstrom are lost on their generation 20 years later. That would be an interesting back story for a creative PG or Trib reporter. Pittsburgh although making the turn and still very vibrant is much less attractive in 2005 then it was 20 years ago (Las Vegas, Orlando, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Nashville, Austin, were all virtual cowtowns 20 years ago, today they would demand expanded locations long before a Pittsburgh or Cleveland would). This makes me wonder if it is more then just the vibrancy of the Pgh market that although good, can't compete with 3 added locations in Vegas or Phoenix or Jacksonville etc., if perhaps the Rooney's are finally calling in their chips with the Nordstrom family after a recession (1990-1993) and a retail 5 alarm in the sunbelt (1994-2003) made Pittsburgh have to wait a while.

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Nordstrom always struck me as being more of a suburban-geared store. Its more young 30-somethings with strollers and minivans than yuppie. L&T, being from Manhattan, is a much more urban-geared store. I think it could have worked in dwontown Pgh. Its crime, however, was that it was owned by the May Co. which also owned Kaufmann's and thus was essentially a NY-version of Kaufmann's and Pghers would rather shop at Kaufmann's.

In any event, I think SHV and Ross Park are more the demographic for Nordstrom. As I said, I rather see Pgh get a Nordstrom than none at all. True, a downtown Nordstrom would pull from all directions but I think that the level of suburban business lost by locating downtown (b/c of perceived lack of parking and the resistance of many suburbanites to go downtown) would outweigh the benefit to having it in such a central location. That's why many dept. stores look first to the suburbs.

Century III and Monroeville? I doubt if Nordstrom would consider those areas. It seems to me that SHV and Ross park have taken over primacy when it comes to retail in the Pgh area. Monroeville has kind of falled off to the wayside. As for Century III, it seems that that mall was very popular in the 80's and then went into a steep decline. CIII definitely has the space for a Nordstrom but I defintiely don't see one opening there.

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The Rooneys and the Nordstrom fam. were very tight as you alluded to PGH. I don't know if it got brought up yet or not. But the original reason the pittsburgh Nordstrom didn't fly in the 90's was that the Nordstrom family got kicked out of corporate power. They are back in now, and they like downtown stores. I would think they'd like the local trade area of South Hills Village even more (did you know there is an Apple Store there now??)

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The Rooneys and the Nordstrom fam. were very tight as you alluded to PGH. I don't know if it got brought up yet or not. But the original reason the pittsburgh Nordstrom didn't fly in the 90's was that the Nordstrom family got kicked out of corporate power. They are back in now, and they like downtown stores. I would think they'd like the local trade area of South Hills Village even more (did you know there is an Apple Store there now??)

SHV definitely has promise. With the soon-to-be vacant Kaufmann's, it has even more promise. I think the SHV area probably has the most prized demographic in the Pgh area. There are places that are richer (Fox Chapel and Sewickley) and places that are more sophisticated (Shadyside/Sq. Hill) but USC/Mt. Lebanon/Bethel Park has the suburban 35-50 family-oriented population group that stores like Nordstrom look for.

The runner up would be the Ross Park Mall area.

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SHV definitely has promise. With the soon-to-be vacant Kaufmann's, it has even more promise. I think the SHV area probably has the most prized demographic in the Pgh area. There are places that are richer (Fox Chapel and Sewickley) and places that are more sophisticated (Shadyside/Sq. Hill) but USC/Mt. Lebanon/Bethel Park has the suburban 35-50 family-oriented population group that stores like Nordstrom look for.

The runner up would be the Ross Park Mall area.

I agree. SHV does have the broadest amount of people (largest) in higher incomes etc. Ross Park would likely be second, though the North Hill is experiencing more growth. It also seems with an empty store in both locations, it would be easy for Norstrom to just set up shop in one of them as opposed to downtown, but again I have to say that with Saks across from the vacant L&T, that site would be attractive for a one store location, especially with all that has been announced for the dowtown area in recent days.

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again I have to say that with Saks across from the vacant L&T, that site would be attractive for a one store location, especially with all that has been announced for the dowtown area in recent days.

The Saks is another wildcard. I've mentioned before that Saks is no longer satisfied with their site. So they may be able to fit into the ground floor of the Laz buliding and then have Nordstrom's in the L/T site. And a Bloomingdales...

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The Saks is another wildcard. I've mentioned before that Saks is no longer satisfied with their site. So they may be able to fit into the ground floor of the Laz buliding and then have Nordstrom's in the L/T site. And a Bloomingdales...

Hmmm, I wonder if Saks might move to one of the vacant mall locations instead? I actually don't see them as a good fit in either Ross Park or SHV since they're more urban but who knows?

By the way, did you know that the Pittsburgh Saks is one of the first outside NYC - having opened in 1949?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saks_Fifth_Avenue

I wonder where their original location was since I believe the current one opened in the 70's.

As for Nordstrom, I think the L&T site might be too small for them. They would be a good fit into the Lazarus site (entire site) but it doesn't look like they'll go for it.

As for Bloomies, I think they might be a good fit for Ross Park Mall.

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L&T is about 120,000 square feet, putting in line with the needs of either Nordstrom or Saks. I can see either of those stores there or at SHV or Ross Park. I don't see Lazarus with a department store in the future. There willl probably be some stores like H&M or Old Navy on the lower levels, but I don't see it going much more upscale.

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Can I ask the ignorant question here? What is the big deal of big box retailers coming to Downtown? Nordstrom seems to be at several malls around Philly and I really don't think anyone cares about it. Might as well open up a Target. I live on Mt Washington and find it easier to drive to any of the malls or take the T to South Hills Village than to actually shop Downtown. Having a big retailer peddling the same lame knock-offs as every other place at the mall isn't going to convince me to brave Downtown logistics. I needed to send a fax from the Kinko's downtown at 1AM one time and still couldn't find parking within 4 blocks without having to pay more than for sending the fax. And why exactly do we need large stores, instead of many small ones? My experience in Berlin is that on just a couple adjacent streets there are enough tiny one-off storefronts to provide a selection of goods that easily puts a department store to shame. You guys think Apple stores are trendy? Everyone in Germany already has an Apple, to be trendy you have to go to the Linux store! Why can't we have that instead? I thought that was the whole idea of New Urbanism? On the other hand, I think big department stores will be a killer idea once Downtown has 10,000 or more people within (Pittsburgher) walking distance of them.

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Simply put, vibrant downtown shoping districts are an asset, especially in this day and age. Few cities have them, and if Pittsburgh can develop its downtown retail further, it will make the city stand out even more than it does now.

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^^Blue if you are referring to King of Prussia and the like then you're right but doesn't Philly have "surburban" malls within the city? Although it is not huge it is a county/city consolidation. If you put Pittsburgh on the same scale it would include in sq. miles--not county line-- RossPark, Century III, SHV, the Waterfront, and possibly Robinson. SteveR has a good point on vibrancy downtown, in addition to that though at a paltry 55 sq. miles (super super tiny compared with other major cities) Pittsburgh's tax base is constantly tettering at the edge, UPMC, Pitt, Duquesne, Allegheny General, CMU, Carlow, Point Park, the tech center by the Mon, are all off the tax rolls and most are expanding gobbling up even more acreage that the city still supports but reaps no income from. To hear out of towners complain that Pittsburgh is great and all but aren't they bankrupt? The "city"--in the "I'm from Pittsburgh, Sewickley etc. sense" is not, the 55 sq. miles that the govt. entitiy of Pittsburgh is muzzled into has some of the best Universities, churches, and Medical Centers in the world, all off the tax rolls, and thus obviously is more a charity clearinghouse then a taxing authority! Time to get some fat corporate checks sent the first every month from NY and Seattle and Dallas to the city assesors office, plus that would mean more equal and less disincentiving taxes on Joe Schmo who just wants to live or start a small biz in the city. That's my biggest beef with having national retail inhabiting the burbs first.

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I am curious since the Rooneys had so much to do with the original discussions with Nordstroms in the 80's where they are behind the scenes on this, could they be keeping Pittsburgh on the radar screen of corporate? pushing a downtown or NS location? Perhaps the old family connections between Art and Old man Nordstrom are lost on their generation 20 years later.

My guess is the connection between the Rooneys was with John Nordstrom, owner of the Seattle Seahawks from 1976 until 1988.

Nordstrom seems to be at several malls around Philly and I really don't think anyone cares about it. Might as well open up a Target.

Several? Try one, at King of Prussia Mall.

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I stand corrected, there is just the Nordstrom at KoP. But I am convinced IIRC that there were others that must have shut down. Plus there are Nordstrom Racks, which is the same company.

Philly does have some "suburban style" malls in the city, but that goes along with the fact that most of the city is pretty much sprawl anyway. There are parts of Philly that have less to do with Center City than South Hills or Ross Park has to do with Downtown. Pittsburgh does have a strong sense of neighborhood but there's also this sense of where the neighborhood is in relation to Downtown. I never felt that same thing from people in Philly. Not only do people not know the name of the specific neighborhood they live in (it's not Somerton or Philmont, just "Northeast Philly"), but they haven't been to Center City since their high school field trip to the art museum.

I do agree that we are in a cultural and economic struggle with the suburbs. In that sense, sure give us the bragging rights and a broader tax base. But I don't know what else that gives us. If we had someone like Walmart come in, the predictable effects are that it would hurt the city with depressed wages and destroyed small businesses, tax base or not. Or conversly the retailer itself would falter and fail. The question is how is Nordstrom better suited for Downtown than Walmart? I don't know. Would people even shop there if it was Downtown? Does it make a difference if it comes now, or if it waits until Downtown is vibrant and populated enough to absorb it without further killing off competing retailers before also starving itself? IOW is this like dropping a shark into a small pond -- would it be an anchor tenant or a gravestone for the retail district? Would it attract even more upscale rich folks to build condos or would it move us towards finally improving the situation for working Pittsburghers? I don't see clear answers to any of these things.

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I stand corrected, there is just the Nordstrom at KoP. But I am convinced IIRC that there were others that must have shut down. Plus there are Nordstrom Racks, which is the same company.

You might be thinking of Nordstrom Rack. I believe that there are 2 in the Philly suburbs (KoP and Franklin Mills). There's just one Nordstrom though - in KoP - and it has always been the only Nordstrom in PA. The Philly area can easily support at least 3 Nordstroms (one in KoP, another in the northern suburbs, and another in NJ) but the problem is that the Philly market is already super-saturated with just about every kind of department store - including several in the upper end (Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's, and Saks Fifth Ave.). Where Nordstrom could open, often there already is an L&T or a Bloomies. Since I suspect L&T may shut down with the latest round of mergers, Nordstrom might open some more stores.

Philly does have some "suburban style" malls in the city, but that goes along with the fact that most of the city is pretty much sprawl anyway. There are parts of Philly that have less to do with Center City than South Hills or Ross Park has to do with Downtown. Pittsburgh does have a strong sense of neighborhood but there's also this sense of where the neighborhood is in relation to Downtown. I never felt that same thing from people in Philly. Not only do people not know the name of the specific neighborhood they live in (it's not Somerton or Philmont, just "Northeast Philly"), but they haven't been to Center City since their high school field trip to the art museum.
One difference is that Center City Philly could care less about the rest of the city since it has nearly 90,000 residents on its own. Add neighboring Unviersity City to that and that's another 30,000. So basically its a small city on its own. Downtown Pgh, however, is pretty much dependent on the rest of Pittsburgh since the residential base is small. This makes it all that much more important to keep downtown Pgh vital since, if Pgh develops into a more feudal city like Philly, downtown Pgh could seriously suffer.

I do agree that we are in a cultural and economic struggle with the suburbs. In that sense, sure give us the bragging rights and a broader tax base. But I don't know what else that gives us. If we had someone like Walmart come in, the predictable effects are that it would hurt the city with depressed wages and destroyed small businesses, tax base or not. Or conversly the retailer itself would falter and fail. The question is how is Nordstrom better suited for Downtown than Walmart? I don't know. Would people even shop there if it was Downtown? Does it make a difference if it comes now, or if it waits until Downtown is vibrant and populated enough to absorb it without further killing off competing retailers before also starving itself? IOW is this like dropping a shark into a small pond -- would it be an anchor tenant or a gravestone for the retail district? Would it attract even more upscale rich folks to build condos or would it move us towards finally improving the situation for working Pittsburghers? I don't see clear answers to any of these things.

Good points. I think it will attract more upscale people though and if that leads to them building condos, all the better. Sure this won't really have a positive impact on working Pghers in the short term. But I think the long term effects will be felt. More condo construction means more jobs for construction workers. It also means a larger tax base. Also, redeveloping downtown Pgh into a vibrant core will help in the retention of jobs downtown and may attract companies to locate there. This will also, in the long run, lead to more jobs.

On the other point, I don't see Nordstrom canabalizing what is there now except maybe Saks Fifth Ave. The thing is that there's very little in downtown Pgh that directly competes with Nordstrom. It may be a differnet story if they dropped a Target there or a Big K. As it stands, there isn't a whole lot in the luxury market in downtown Pgh other than Saks and a few boutiques in One Oxford, Fifth Ave. Place, and PPG. Regarding those stores, the addition of Nordstrom would help since it would create an anchor.

I don't see Nordstrom locating in downtown Pgh though. I think SHV and Ross Park are the most likely candidates and they have a ready made demographic with available free parking. Those malls will be wooing Nordstrom like crazy.

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^^Blue if you are referring to King of Prussia and the like then you're right but doesn't Philly have "surburban" malls within the city?

Only two that I can think of. There's the Roosevelt Mall and Farnklin Mills Mall. Both are in Northeast Philly which is like the San Fernando Valley of Philadelphia - within the city but not a part of it (if you know what I mean). There's also the Gallery at Market East but that's much more of a downtown mall in the sense that, while it is as large as a typical suburban mall, it draws the vast majority of its customers from people who walk in or who take the subway, train, or bus in.

Although it is not huge it is a county/city consolidation. If you put Pittsburgh on the same scale it would include in sq. miles--not county line-- RossPark, Century III, SHV, the Waterfront, and possibly Robinson.

Don't forget Parkway Center, North Hills Village, and Northway Mall :P .

Of course Pgh already includes a suburban-style "mall" within its boundaries - the Waterworks Mall. Sure its not an enclosed mall but it does call itself a "Mall" ;) .

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I can see how important Nordstrom may seem to downtown Pittsburgh. In the city I use to feel the same way, that Philly needed the big stores to draw people downtown. But guess what. I was wrong. Look at the Gallery mistake. To think that you can draw suburbanites to CC to get the same kinds of stores they can have in the suburbs it just won't work. Maybe in the day when retailers like Kauffman's and Wanamaker's, Gimbels etc. were unique and sold different things. But today, retail is so much about mass marketing.

What will work is getting retailers who are only in CC, not the same stores in King of Prussia. For example limited scope stores who have not yet made it to middle America or don't want to. That is what is starting to happen in Philly, where we have long suffered from a lack of high-end retail stores.

For example: West Elm just opened a 20,000 sq. ft. store on Chestnut, they only have 13 stores in the whole U.S. west elm

The same is true for stores like BoConcept which opens in February. 11 stores in the U.S.

boconept

I think that by going after the smaller more exclusive stores we have a better chance to compete with the giant suburban malls with their free parking.

Would Pittsburgh rather try to get a Barney's then a Nordstrom. We have been trying for years to

get a Barney's and finally one is coming in 2007 to 18th street. barneysny

Maybe I am wrong, but both Philly and Pittsburgh might find it easier to think smaller, more unique and make downtown a destination again.

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The main difference between Center City Philadelphia and downtown Pittsburgh - and a significant one at that - is the much larger residential population Center City has. Downtown Pgh, as of current, has a pretty small residential population, even if you include the adjoining areas of the North Side and Strip District.

The small specialty stores work very well in Center City because they rely primarily on walk-in business. I imagine West Elm gets much of its business from the people living in Center City - same with Design Within Reach, and the various smaller individual stores. The big department stores don't work so well in Center City because they rely priamrily on suburbanites for thier business. Center City residents are more in the know and will shop at West Elm for the latest in furniture, Williams Sonoma for their kitchen needs, Zara for clothing, etc. If they're looking for cheaper stuff, there's Burlington, H&M, and Big K (which all do really good business). Department stores tend to cater to the middle of the road crowd (read: "suburban") who would rather do one-stop shopping and don't mind that what they're getting may not be the latest (and they usually aren't in the dept. stores).

The thing with Pittsburgh is that much of that young urban population lives away from Downtown and instead lives in places like Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, and (to some extent) the South Side. That's where you'll find Whole Foods, Kenneth Cole, Williams Sonoma, etc. Downtown is kind of cut off from that and Pittsburghers aren't as willing to give up personal space to move into a small apartment in order to be within walking distance of work (its just not as much part of the culture of Pittsburgh as it is with Philadelphia and the other East Coast cities). Thus, downtown Pgh pretty much has to rely on attracting the suburban crowd. Hence, the goal is to attract major department stores that don't already have a presence in the Pittsburgh area such as Nordstrom. In the past, the same was done with Saks Fifth Ave. (successful) and Lord & Taylor (unsuccessful) and there was talk of attracting Macy's before that became moot with the various rounds of dept. store mergers.

So, in short, its different strategies for two very different downtowns.

By the way, I do think the Gallery (in Center City Philadelphia) is very successful - just not upscale. The place is always crowded and Big K and Burlington always appear to do great business (try standing in line at any of the checkouts). I imagine most of the other stores are doing well. Certainly FYE is as are the bookstores. The upscale shopping in Center City has never been in the Market East area anyway. That area has always been more egalitarian whereas Chestnut and Walnut were the more fashionable shopping streets (Chestnut having faded in the 25 years it was a transitway but now well on its way back to claim its rightful place). Sure Market had many of the major department stores like Strawbride & Clothier, Gimbels, Lit Bros., Wannamaker's, etc. but the more specilialized upscale department stores were on Chestnut (The Blum Store, Bonwit Teller, etc.) The one exeception was Boyd's which was on Market (now on Chestnut). As it stands currently, Chestnut/Walnut is now the most sought-after retail address on the East Coast outside of NYC, surpassing Boston's Newbury Street.

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It's official. Nordstrom will be here (at least in the burbs). Now we have 2 high class department stores! Im sorry they didn't choose Downtown, but the Macy's will do well without too much competition. I know they are keeping it open and are making plans for renovations. (I work for them btw). It would be great if we all went there and shopped. If you go in the evening or weekend and spend 50.00 or more they will validate your parking. Just not in the parking structure next door. Call first! :D

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06082/675160.stm

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