Given the chance to gain the ear of landlord Kevin Foley, Belmont residents said the best options for the Macy's site would be another department store, a food retailer or redesigning the site so it can house a number of upscale operations.
That is the result of a poll in and comments sent to Belmont Patch after the announcement Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 that the 75,000 square-foot store – in the same location on Leonard Street for 71 years – was closing.
"There has always been a department store or two in Belmont," wrote Marsha Knoll. "Why not keep a proven 'anchor store' here, which brings business into our good town."
In the poll, replacing Macy's with another large retailer such as H&M was the top vote getter among those who voted.
Right behind the return of a department store is an upscale food store.
"A good grocery store, kind of like the old Bildner's, would be a great addition to Belmont Center," said Martha Gallagher. "I would love to see a place that had great produce, great seafood and maybe a butcher."
Third in the poll was the suggestion of breaking up the site with a larger retail operation with one or two smaller stores. One retail example a couple of commentators noted is Thorne's Marketplace in Northampton, Massachusetts "with small clothing, shoe and art boutiques, cafe's, eateries ... would be great!" said Martin.
"Located right at the heart of Northampton Center, I always have to stop at Thornes when I'm shopping in the area, even if I don't buy anything. And I usually don't," wrote Andrea B. from Arlington on the review website Yelp.com
What Belmont residents are overwhelmingly oppose to on the site is a bank branch.
"The last thing that we need is another bank," commented Jo Kwan, who along with a few others would like to see a large book store."
"[A bookstore] would be very very nice. Even better is a used book store like The Strand in NYC," said Kwan.
If there is one overriding condition for any new occupant is to be a vibrant component to the Center's retail life. One current Macy's employee would like to see the site "broken (up) into retail space (possibly job opportunities would occur for us!) It would also keep the downtown alive at night."
"I just hope that the landlord does not keep the space a big vacant space!"