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Expected closure of Macy's in Union Square latest issue to impact SF mayor's race

San Francisco mayoral candidates react to looming closure of Macy's in Union Square
San Francisco mayoral candidates react to looming closure of Macy's in Union Square 04:46

SAN FRANCISCO – Macy's announcement that it is closing its flagship store in San Francisco's Union Square fell right into the city's mayoral campaign.

It is the latest headline to draw attention to the state of downtown, and the future of the city.

"A big, huge store like Macy's or Walgreens close, the business goes down," said Issam Askndafi, who owns a store nearby.

Askndafi does not operate on the scale of Macy's, but he is right around the corner from Union Square, and he knows this was more bad news. Among his handful of stores across the city only one of them is currently struggling.

"The store in downtown goes down more than 50%," he explained. "The residential area is fine. Because of the tourists, no more tourists. No more big companies, they work from home."

"There are definitely possibilities here," Mayor London Breed said Tuesday. "This is not like Nordstrom's, where they say we're leaving, we're exiting, and it's certainty. This is a completely different situation, and I look at it as an opportunity."

Breed repeatedly used the word opportunity when discussing the Macy's announcement and she started by emphasizing this:

"Just to be clear," Breed added. "Macy's made a business decision to close 150 stores all over the country."

"Listen, there are 150 closures," said mayoral challenger Daniel Lurie. "But it's not an easy environment for business to be in San Francisco."

For the second day in a row, Daniel Lurie, who already has a billboard above Union Square, grabbed a headline to make his case that city leadership as a whole has failed.

"This is a blow," Lurie said of Macy's decision. "But we're coming back. This city is the greatest city in the world. But we need a plan."

"It's scary to walk after four or five o'clock," Askndafi said of his safety concerns after dark.

Askndafi says it will take a greater sense of safety, and ultimately more people to start filling the massive amount of space that is already empty here. And he says the help is needed fast.

"They see it, it is dying," Askndafi said. "They have to save it."

Does he think that can happen?

"Everything can be done," he said.

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