Abandoned Macy’s Store Modified Into A School


Charles Krupa

An abandoned Macy’s department store, as of March 4th, 2021, became Downtown Burlington High School where over 1,000 students and staff attend in-person with the perks of a mall.


After district officials found toxic industrial chemicals, known as PCBs, in the existing school, during renovations, it had to be shut down. Because of this event, the school only had the ability to offer students remote learning. But, a few months later, district administrators got the idea of remodeling a Macy’s store, which had been shut down in 2018, into a school.


According to apnews.com, “The building underwent a $3.5 million retrofit supported by the state that added partial walls for classrooms while keeping some Macy’s remnants, like the sparkly white tile floors, bright red carpeting, and Calvin Klein and Michael Kors signs and a large-scale Levi’s jeans photo on a classroom wall. The library is housed in the former Macy’s china department, with books displayed on under-lit shelves, while the gym is in a former store’s warehouse and is still unfinished.”


Taking a 10-week transformation, the Macy’s department store was then ready for students to attend in-person. The school even decided to keep some of the mall’s features including elevators and escalators. The Burlington School District has a three and a half year lease with the building. Using this time, district officials plan to further investigate the dangerous chemicals found in the previous location and evaluate what ways they can create a safer environment.


In nypost.com, Aria Batten, a student attending the new school campus, stated, “Honestly it feels genuinely better than the old BHS campus. You can truly feel how much time and effort went into building it. They truly thought out the safety and construction behind it, and it makes me feel really good.”