Macy's closing: What's next for San Francisco's Union Square

Macy's announcement on Tuesday that it was closing its flagship store in San Francisco's Union Square was sad news for many. But for some, there was optimism about the future of the area.

Macy's planned to close 150 locations nationwide. The retailer said a change in the retail landscape has forced it to change its strategy. Instead, the company will open 15 new Bloomingdale's and 30 new Blue Mercury stores.

The San Francisco Macy's will not close until the company can sell the building, which could be more than a year. Many say this is a devastating loss, but that it doesn't mean the end of Union Square.

People who work and run businesses in the area said change is inevitable and hard. But they said they are optimistic about Union Square's future without Macy's.

Nearby, Corzetti served up coastal Italian cuisine. The restaurant opened just six months ago.

"We've done a good job of creating a cozy pocket in downtown San Francisco," said executive chef Tali Missirlian. The native San Franciscan said she's saddened by the news of Macy's Union Square closure, but that Corzetti is among the new businesses that represent growth and change in the area. 

She said when she first started working downtown, she had concerns about crime and safety, but that soon changed when she saw what the area had to offer.

"There is a lot of hope. We are on the right track. We're not going backwards. I already feel us going forward. Tourism is very much alive," said Missirlian.

Corzetti's general manager Raegan Hall said the restaurant has done well since it opened. She has been in the city for more than two decades.

"I love San Francisco.  It's always changing," said Hall.

The Starlite cocktail lounge re-opened at the beginning of the month for the first time since the pandemic. It is on the top floor of Beacon Grand, formerly known as the Sir Francis Drake Hotel, under new ownership. It offers sweeping views, including that of Macy's.  

"There is a lot of history here. We're proud to celebrate that history," said Sebastien Pfeiffer, the managing director of Beacon Grand.  

Proud of history, but progress comes with looking towards the future.

The Macy's in San Francisco's Union Square will close as the company shutters 150 locations across the country.

"There's a real concerted effort to support businesses, bring tourism, working with SF Travel, the Hotel Council, the Union Square Alliance as well as the city itself to make San Francisco the true world-class destination that it is," said Pfeiffer.  

"Devastating news, but in some ways, not totally unexpected," said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the area. 

He said online shopping has dramatically changed the way consumers shop and that there's already a group that's expressed an interest in buying Macy's property. 

"That building can be well re-positioned as multiple use, restaurants with extraordinary views of the square, and everything's on the table," said Peskin.  

Peskin said Macy's is expected to be at Union Square at least through the end of the year. The hope is that the beauty of the area, great restaurants and other family-oriented attractions will continue to attract people here.

"Someone with the right mind can maintain the beauty and the glory that is downtown San Francisco," said Missirlian.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU.