Owners the Levine family and joint venture partner PinnacleCommunities of Millburn, NJ are preparing an ambitiousredevelopment plan to submit to the city that includes razing theexisting four-story, 110,000-sf building and replacing it with anew structure of up to seven stories that would combine about75,000 sf of new retail and upscale apartments.

"The trends in the economy, as well as in the retail environmentand the competitive nature of our surroundings have made it so wecan no longer survive in our current form," according to Epstein'sCFO William Levine, speaking at a press conference. "We have tomake some changes."

Internally, those changes are apparently being forced by thefact that Epstein's has shrunk from being a four-store regionalchain doing more than $40 million in sales to a one-store operationgenerating under $20 million in sales, according to figures madepublic by the company. The city's other downtown department store,Macy's, closed a decade ago.

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