The Former Macy's on Main Street

The former Macy's building on Main Street in downtown Walla Walla, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.

Walla Walla City Council members will vote Wednesday, Aug. 10, on permitting an extensive remodeling project at the former Macy’s department store, 54 E. Main St.

According to the application filed on May 13 with the city’s planning department, the property’s developer is listed as “54 East Main, LLC” and Joshua Hurlburt of Lake Tapps, Washington (near Tacoma), is named as the registered agent.

The planning commission approved the permit on July 11, city planner Jon Maland said, but because the property abuts Mill Creek, “the development triggers a shoreline permit, and that’s why City Council has to approve it.”

Filed documents show the developer wants to “convert the former department store to retail and extend-stay hotel uses. Added improvements include a private terrace and open courtyard.” Macy’s closed in the early part of 2020.

The Former Macy's on Main Street

The main floor of the former Macy's on Main Street in downtown Walla Walla, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. Macy's closed in the early part of 2020.

The project is labeled the “A.M. Jensen Building,” and Tri-Cities-based Steven Day Architecture is listed on the conceptual drawings.

That courtyard would start at basement level and go up through the center of the historic building, Maland said on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

An early conceptual drawing of the first floor proposed by new owners of the former Macy's building in downtown Walla Walla.

First-floor retail spaces would front Main and Colville streets, while much of the interior would be used for extended-stay suites. The courtyard, which will be open air, will measure out to more than 9,000 square feet. A private terrace is planned for the back of the former Macy’s building.

An early conceptual drawing of the second floor proposed by new owners of the former Macy's building in downtown Walla Walla.

Maland’s staff said in its report that public access, pedestrian and bicycle circulation will continue to be open during the remodeling of the building, and the existing exterior walls, made of terracotta, will remain intact.

An early conceptual drawing of the third floor proposed by new owners of the former Macy's building in downtown Walla Walla.

Ultimately the new development will add 21,460 square feet of hospitality space and about 6,000 square feet of shopping area to the city’s downtown, Maland said.

An early conceptual drawing of the building as viewed through the courtyard as proposed by new owners of the former Macy's building in downtown Walla Walla.

The property is located within 200 feet of the ordinary high watermark for Mill Creek, according to the commission’s report, “ subject to the provisions of the city of Walla Walla’s Shoreline Management Master Program. This channel portion is adjacent to the building and within the urban downtown area.”

The goal of the shoreline program is to prevent harm from uncoordinated development of the state’s shorelines and to provide plans, policies and regulations consistent with Washington’s Shoreline Management Act.

That legislation contains guidelines in how to reflect the desires of a community with regard to balancing the use of city shorelines.

“Mill Creek is an asset to the community, and the city’s vision of restoring Mill Creek to a more naturalized system while recognizing the vital flood control aspects of the channel is an overarching goal of the Shoreline Master Program,” notes the permit document.

The idea is to preserve the high quality of the city’s waters and shorelines for future generations while respecting the rights of property owners and promoting the economic vitality and sustainability of the city.

The Walla Walla City Council will meet Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 15 N. Third Ave. or via Zoom at ubne.ws/citycouncilzoom or by calling 253-215-8782; meeting ID 894 8336 8483#.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers health, social services and city government in Milton-Freewater, Athena and Weston in the Walla Walla Valley.

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