NORTH HOLLYWOOD >> Whenever Nahid Moradi and her county coworkers needed a little jewelry, a splash of perfume or the latest duds, they’d hop over to the North Hollywood Macy’s.
But when she opened the door Wednesday at the last store in Laurel Plaza, she was shocked to be met by “store closing” signs.
“This is horrible,” said Moradi, 49, of Hollywood, frowning upon the announced 20 percent- to 40 percent-off final clearance sale. “It’s the best Macy’s in Los Angeles, I’m not kidding.
• PHOTOS: Macy’s in North Hollywood is slated to close
“It’s really sad. I don’t know where to shop. I’m a Macy’s girl.”
Early this year, the New York-based department store announced it would close 40 Macy’s across the nation following disappointing 2015 sales, including its store in Westfield Century City. A demise of the 475,000-square-foot store at 6150 Laurel Canyon Boulevard this fall could mark Macy’s closure No. 41.
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And when the fluorescent lights finally dim inside the cream-and-chocolate retail behemoth, it will not only mark an end to a 61-year-old Laurel Plaza of North Hollywood. It will symbolize an end to a North Hollywood shopping tradition.
It was there in 1955, at the height of the San Fernando Valley postwar building boom, that the May Co. opened its regional headquarters surrounded by an ice skating rink and other stores. Four years earlier, Valley Plaza opened around the corner as the largest shopping mall in the West.
But after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, all but the department store at Laurel Plaza were razed. Soon afterward, Valley Plaza was almost deserted. The Promenade across the Valley in Woodland Hills may soon face interior closure.
“Laurel Plaza has been there nigh on half a century,” said Valley civic leader Martin M. Cooper, author of “Read All About It!,” a history of the postwar Valley published last year. “It’s always sad when businesses go away, because you think of the people who have patronized it and worked there.
“It’s particularly sad when it’s a mall that serves a local community, rather than a region.”
Macy’s officials said they will close the free-standing store they have operated since 2006 at the end of a final clearance sale that began Monday. The sale is expected to peter out by late September or early October.
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The store’s 193 Macy’s employees were told of the closure on July 25, according to a spokeswoman. Where possible, they will be hired at other stores, she said. If not, they will be offered severance benefits.
“Macy’s is committed to treating affected Laurel Plaza associates with respect and openness,” said Raegan Gall, a spokeswoman for the Northwest & Southwest regions, in an email. “Macy’s customers will be well-served by the Macy’s stores at Burbank Town Center and Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, each of which are less than five miles away, as well as by its other stores throughout southern California and online at macys.com.
After the closing of Laurel Plaza, Macy’s will operate 41 stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Two years ago, the 25-acre Laurel Canyon plaza property at Oxnard Street and bounded by the 170 Freeway was sold to Goldstein Planting Investments and a developer who aim to turn it into a so-called NoHo West.
Merlone Geier Partners, a developer of West Coast malls based in San Francisco, announced plans last spring for a $200 million mixed-use retail, office and residential complex.
An open-air “main street” known as Laurel Plaza Drive will feature walkable stores and restaurants, a multiplex cinema, a 40,000-square-foot health club and a market. Some 742 apartments would be built along the north and northeast corner. Parking garages would accommodate nearly 2,600 cars.
The roughly 80-foot-tall former May Co./Macy’s building, with its low-slung annex removed, would be modified for commercial office space.
• RELATED STORY: The Promenade faces bleak future as more tenants abandon struggling mall
Construction of the proposed NoHo West mixed-use complex is pending planning approvals that would include a zone change and the adoption of a new sign district.
Some neighbors say hundreds of NoHo West apartments would overwhelm the adjacent neighborhoods of postwar bungalows, now separated from Laurel Plaza by narrow two-lane streets. They also say it will kill the breeze that now blows across its nearly empty parking lot.
“The new development will be a disaster,” declared Hosep “Joe” Srourian, 53, who has lived for 10 years in a house on Erwin Street across from the plaza. “Where is the traffic going to go? The city isn’t thinking.
“How am I going to get out of here? How will I find my way out? The city needs to act now to stop these apartments,” he said. “Businesses fine. Residential has to stop.”