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State St. gets a bargain

RETAIL | City's 1st Loehmann's opens as rumors swirl

October 16, 2007

Loehmann's designer-discount clothing and shoe store opened this weekend to curious shoppers at the Joffrey Tower on State Street, setting the stage for a second round of retail transformation in the Loop.

The two-story, 27,000-square-foot store at the northeast corner of State and Randolph is one of an eclectic mix of retailers rumored to be nearing deals at the much-maligned Block 37 and at the vacant Carson Pirie Scott building nearby.

Other retailers reportedly negotiating for space at Block 37, at the southwest corner of State and Randolph, include Apple Computer, Zara shoe store, Puma athletic wear and Crate & Barrel home furnishings, sources said Monday.

Other retailers that have prominent boutiques at Macy's, such as Coach handbags and Thomas Pink dress shirts, could open their own stores nearby, sources said. Other possible tenants for Carson's include Whole Foods, Steve & Barry's and Canyon Ranch health resorts, sources said.

A spokeswoman for Joseph Freed & Associates, developer of Carson's and Block 37, had no comment because no leases have been signed.

The retailers would join H&M, Nordstrom Rack, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Old Navy and Blick Art Materials in transforming State Street into a mecca for college students newly transplanted into downtown dorms.

For its part, Macy's on State Street is selling jewelry, handbags and fashions made by 20 Chicago designers and will open an incubator for up-and-coming designers inside the store in February. Macy's has chosen 10 finalists for six spots in the incubator with labels such as Evil Kitty, Eno Daro, GE'M, Gidi and Revolver.

Loehmann's, with four stores in Chicago's suburbs, chose its first city site because "State Street's revitalization was very appealing to us," said Fred Forcellati, vice president of advertising and creative at the Bronx-based company.

The store on State Street employs 50 and sells men's and children's apparel as well as women's fashions. It includes Loehmann's popular "Back Room" of designer deals, as well as a new look of high ceilings and marble floors.

Loehmann's is owned by Istithmar, the investment arm of the Dubai government that also owns Barneys New York.

Forcellati described the downtown shopper as fitting Loehmann's typical shopper: She knows she can get a good buy at $29.99, but she also understands that buying a top-notch Italian designer handbag for $400 "is a steal."