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The ‘Million Dollar Corner’ and the fight between Macy’s and Amazon

It’s the most contentious nook in New York.

On thirty fourth Street and Broadway, the good symmetry of Macy’s Herald Square is damaged up by a small constructing, presently occupied by a Sunglass Hut.

This minuscule slice of Manhattan, often called the “Million Dollar Corner,” has been a thorn in Macy’s facet for 120 years. It was the heart of a retail struggle at the starting of final century, and threatens to be an excellent larger drawback right this moment.

The fight began in 1900, when Macy’s deliberate to maneuver its flagship retailer from West 14th Street to thirty fourth. The Siegel-Cooper Company, which owned the then-world’s largest retailer on 18th Street, operated close to the unique Macy’s in the Ladies’ Mile Shopping District. When Macy’s exited its 14th Street location, founder Henry Siegel sought to take over the lease on the constructing to seize prospects unaware of Macy’s transfer. When he was rejected, he put a crafty plan into play.

Robert “Pop” Smith, the proprietor of a close-by “cloak and suit firm” was additionally involved that Macy’s transfer would draw prospects away from the downtown purchasing district. Acting on behalf of Siegel, Smith met the proprietor of the small thirty fourth Street constructing in the nook of Macy’s deliberate lot and provided him $375,000 — the tough equal of $12 million right this moment. Macy’s had solely bid $250,000. Seigel hoped to make use of the constructing as wedge to attain the lease on the 14th Street constructing, however Macy’s wouldn’t negotiate.

Billboard sinage advertising Macy's on corner of Broadway and W 34st in Herald Square.
Billboard signage promoting Macy’s on nook of Broadway and West thirty fourth Street in Herald Square.
Robert Miller

“Macy’s built around them to spite the corner store,” mentioned architectural historian Andrew Alpern, 82, writer of “Holdouts!: The Buildings That Got in the Way.” “They cut into their own building.”

In 1911, Smith bought the retailer — however to not Macy’s — for $1 million, a file for metropolis actual property at the time, which earned the 31 toes of Broadway frontage its nickname.

For a long time, Macy’s turned lemons into lemonade, shopping for promoting that turned the small holdout into an enormous 2,200 sq. foot purchasing bag, which proclaims Macy’s as “The World’s Largest Store.” But they by no means purchased the constructing itself, which is owned by Kaufman Realty. Now, Amazon, the on-line retail large, has reportedly outbid Macy’s for the promoting house — and plans to place up signage that can upstage Macy’s throughout its personal Thanksgiving Day Parade. Last week, Macy’s filed a grievance in State Supreme courtroom in Manhattan to cease their No. 1 competitor.

The Sunglass Hut and Burger King in the are located below the Macy's billboard.
The Sunglass Hut and Burger King in the space situated beneath the Macy’s billboard.
Robert Miller

“Since the early 1960s Macy’s has placed a billboard sign on the building adjacent to our flagship store,” Orlando Veras, a spokesperson for Macy’s, mentioned in an announcement. “Macy’s continues to have rights relating to advertisements at that location.”

That’s as much as the courts. But Alpern says Macy’s executives have to be kicking themselves that they didn’t purchase the Million Dollar Corner years in the past.

“It’s a funny irony that a building with this kind of history would come back and be a problem more than a century later,” he mentioned. “Macy’s has not had a good record with holdouts. They just don’t seem to be too good at negotiating with their neighbors.”

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