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MINNEAPOLIS-Speculation is swirling in the Twin Cities real estate industry about what will May Department Stores do with the nine Mervyn’s store locations it is buying as part of the $3.2-billion Marshall Field’s deal. May spokeswoman Sharon Bateman says her company is studying the nine Mervyn’s locations, adding some could be converted to Marshall Field’s locations and some would be sold.

However, none will be converted to another May retail brand, Bateman says. An obvious candidate for a conversion is Eden Prairie Center, where Marshall Field’s had tried to put a store until negotiations blew up several years ago. Some retail analysts think it’s possible some Mervyn’s stores could be second Field’s stores in the same mall.

“This is good news for the mall owners,” says Jim McCombs, a retail real estate consultant based in Minneapolis. “They will probably get a store in the Mervyn’s location that will bring more customers than Mervyn’s is bringing.”

Buying the nine Mervyn’s stores in the Twin Cities makes sense from a defensive and offensive point of view, retail analysts say. “One reason they bought them was to guard the back door,” says Mike Scott, a retail broker with United Properties. “They didn’t want to buy Marshall Field’s at a premium, then have someone else come into the same malls by buying Mervyn’s locations.”

McCombs speculates May could convert some of the Mevyn’s locations to second Marshall Field’s stores, as Marshall Field’s did in Ridgedale when it bought the Carson Pirie Scott stores in the Twin Cities. He thinks this would be most likely in stores with small Marshall Field’s stores like Maplewood Mall, Burnsville Center and Brookdale.

“I was scouting their store at Maplewood Mall, and I noticed they didn’t have a Polo department,” McCombs says. Expanded selling space would allow them to expand their merchandise offering at the mall, he adds.

At Southdale and Rosedale, where Marshall Field’s has large stores, May could move in its Marshall Field’s home furnishing stores that now lie outside the malls, and sell those locations.

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