A private U.S. investment group has signed a contract to buy Macy's $35m landmark building in St Louis that has played a storied role in the city's retail history.

The deal, reached in July, includes an agreement by Macy's to keep its department store open in space it will lease back on the lower floors, people familiar with the deal said. If the deal is completed, St. Louis will have succeeded where many cities have failed to keep a major department store operating

Wall Street Journal