Meier & Frank Lobbies Council Against Nordstrom Move

Meier & Frank Lobbies Council Against Nordstrom Move

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Meier & Frank executives say they don't want Nordstrom to move off Main Street, and are here lobbying the City Council to continue to forbid department stores to open in The Gateway.

Councilman Carlton Christensen said he will vote against changing an agreement with The Gateway that limits store size, which could allow Nordstrom to relocate there from the downtown Crossroads Plaza.

Meier & Frank is owned by the May Co., whose real estate executives Dean Wolfe and Vincent Corno also met with Councilman Van Turner on Monday.

They were expected to talk with the remaining five council members Tuesday in small groups, which could be a way to avoid Utah's open meetings law. Corno, reached at his hotel Monday night, declined to comment.

May operates seven Meier & Frank stores in Utah, with plans to open an eighth store in Riverdale at the end of July.

"We as a city need to set a consistent policy and stand by it," Christensen said. "We told (the May Co.) when it came into town and acquired ZCMI, 'This is where department stores go, this is our long-term plan' and they turn around and invest tens of millions of dollars and you change that on them. That's not very fair."

Christensen said the downtown store, across Main Street from Nordstrom, is meant to be its flagship in Utah.

The May Co. did not threaten to leave downtown if the council changes the Gateway agreement, Christensen said. Nor did its representatives ask for money to bring in one of their other department stores -- such as Lord & Taylor -- to take Nordstrom's place. They did suggest that a city as small as Salt Lake City cannot spread out department stores.

The May Co. favors having another major retailer near its downtown store, and want a quality store like Nordstrom to anchor on the Crossroads Plaza block, Turner said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in the process of buying that mall and plans to redesign the block, along with the nearby ZCMI Center. It is trying to convince Nordstrom to stay on Main Street.

Nordstrom executives intend to move the high-end retailer to The Gateway, or leave the city.

Next month, the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency board, is expected to decide if it will amend its agreement with Gateway's developer, The Boyer Co., that limits stores to 45,000 square feet. Nordstrom wants 124,000 square feet.

Mayor Rocky Anderson created the space limitation to prevent such a move. Now he believes Nordstrom should be allowed at Gateway if the church can't persuade Nordstrom to stay in Crossroads.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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