The future of Macy's Union Square location

With the news settling in that Macy's in San Francisco's Union Square will be closing down, the city is asking "What's next?" 

It's hard to imagine Union Square without Macy's, but that's exactly what people are doing now; imagining what the space could be and how it could serve the city in the future.

Macy's on San Francisco's Union Square has stood at the site for nearly 80 years, and now that it will be shuttering the store, the city is rethinking what this space could be. Some say it should be housing or a foodie destination. 

"I would like to see SF chefs come in here and take over a floor and have really elegant dining," said Thomas Senica. "Miller and Lux is doing it. Bringing $100-dollar plates back to San Francisco for lunch."

Robert Burns is launching a tech company designed to help students transition to life in college dorms. He says the building could be a tech incubator. 

"There's so many startups in this area, so many entrepreneurs," said Burns. "Maybe some kind of working space. Cheap, affordable working space for startups."

Jasper Rubin is a professor of urban studies and planning at San Francisco State University. He says we should rethink this location's history as an anchor, and think of it more as a piece of a puzzle. 

That means making sure it's a good fit for the city and works financially, providing job opportunities, whatever it turns out to be. 

"There might be a range of uses that would help make the area generally more dynamic and generally more attractive and bring people," said Rubin.

That could mean rethinking space that had been dedicated to retail. 

"One thing I would think of is subdividing that space and inviting some of those activities and users that have fled the city in the past decade, like non-profit organizations, NGOs, artists, artists' organizations and trying to attract them into that space," said Rubin.

President of the Board of Supervisors Aaron Peskin, who oversees the Union Square area, says potential buyers have already begun reaching out to him, and that whoever buys the site will have a lot of say over what it ultimately becomes. He says he is working on ways to get rid of red tape to allow this space to adapt. 

"We'll see who ultimately buys that building," said Peskin. "I think residential is a possibility, mixed-use is a possibility. But, the days of multistory four levels of department stores are really becoming fewer and fewer and farther between."

Whatever the space will eventually be there is time to consider the options. Macy's has said it has no plans to shut this site down this year. Any closure could come in a year or two after the building is sold.