R. H. Macy & Co., one of the nation's premier retailers, has decided to build a department store in Marina del Rey as part of its long-expected plunge into the fiercely competitive Southern California retail market, sources say.
The New York-based chain also is on the verge of completing negotiations for a site in a shopping center to be built at the juncture of the San Diego and Santa Ana freeways in Irvine.
In addition to the Marina del Rey and Irvine sites, the San Fernando Valley is a "good bet" for a third location and almost certainly will get a Macy's store before 1995, sources close to the chain said.
Macy's already has 25 stores in Northern California.
The chain has long been eyeing Southern California, where it could enjoy a tactical advantage over other newcomers.
Its existing administrative and warehousing facilities in California could service new stores in Southern California, industry sources said.
"It makes sense that they would want to come into Southern California with several stores because savings are proportionate" to the number of Macy's outlets, said Richard G. Sims, group president of Irvine Co.'s investment properties division.
Marina Place Store
Sims confirmed that Irvine Co. is actively negotiating with Macy's. Sources close to the chain said that Macy's expects to sign a letter of intent in early November to build the Irvine store.
In Marina del Rey, Macy's has signed a letter of intent with Melvin Simon & Associates, an Indianapolis-based developer, to build a store in a proposed new center at Marina Place, according to a source close to the chain.
Prudential Insurance Co. of America has been struggling for some time to get municipal approval for an 18-acre project bounded by Washington Boulevard, Glencoe Avenue, Walnut Avenue and Zanja Street.
In fact, the deal with Macy's is said to hinge on Simon receiving approval for the necessary entitlements and zoning.
Sources described completion of a Macy's agreement with the developer as "a contingent deal. It has outs--such as if (Simon) can't get the necessary approval on time."
But Gregory Glass, a senior vice president of development with Melvin Simon & Associates in West Los Angeles, denied that the company has signed a formal letter of intent with Macy's.
He confirmed, however, that Simon "has talked with Macy's about opportunities everywhere."
One reason Simon is considered a logical choice to develop a West Los Angeles site for Macy's is the developer's history with the firm.
"We have an excellent relationship with them," said Glass, noting that Simon is building Macy's stores near the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., and in Plantation, Fla.
According to sources close to the chain, Macy's is also talking with another developer and is seriously considering an alternative site in Marina del Rey on Admiralty Place in case Simon cannot obtain the necessary approvals on time.
"There's a contingent deal and a competition going on between the two" developers, the source said.
"Both deals involve the same tenants and the same site. . . .Whoever comes up with the zoning first and meets all the conditions" will win the Macy's project in Marina del Rey, the source said.