By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Nov 10, 2001 at 6:08 AM

The downtown Boston Store, in the Shops at Grand Avenue, began its renovation celebration on Fri., Nov. 9. The heart of Milwaukee is what they're calling it, and after taking a look around, they may be right.

After almost nine months of remodeling, the store opened its doors at 10 a.m. for a day of activities and special events. The first 500 customers received a free gift (a silver keychain).

The week-long celebration features music, face painters, demonstrations, fashion shows and a sweepstakes for over $1,800 in prizes, including tickets to the Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, First Stage Children's Theatre, Next Act Theatre, Chamber Theatre, Skylight opera, the Admirals, Bucks, Milwaukee Public Museum and Milwaukee Art Museum.

Carson Pirie Scott Chairman/CEO Michael R. MacDonald, Mayor John Norquist and County Executive Tom Ament participated in the opening ceremony. Hizzoner even did a little shopping, taking time to browse the socks.

The 120,000-sq. ft. store has been fitted with new lighting and floors, wider aisles, new restrooms and a streamlined two-storey layout. A range of specialty shops is also located in the store.

"We're extremely excited about the renovation," said store manager Steve Heintzkill. "Our customers will essentially see a new store. All of the changes have been designed to make the customers shopping experience more comfortable and convenient."

The remodeling is bright, colorful and inviting, and marks a major improvement for both the Shops at Grand Avenue and downtown. The windows are extra special with animated displays that give new life to Wisconsin Avenue and the surrounding streets.

"The remodeling is designed to make our downtown Milwaukee customer's shopping experience more efficient and enjoyable now and well into the future," said MacDonald. "It will allow us to better tailor our merchandise assortments to meet the downtown shopper's needs, while providing us a more productive use of the selling space."

The mayor echoed MacDonald's thoughts.

"This renovation has brought together the best elements of urban design and urban life," Norquist said. "The pedestrian enhancements, streetscape improvements and storefront windows have created a welcoming atmosphere for residents, visitors and downtown workers."

The remodeled store is part of an effort to revitalize downtown and make it a popular destination for both city residents and tourists.

"This development connects directly to our mission of creating a 24-hour downtown," Norquist said. "Residential, hotel and office developments have surrounded this store and West Wisconsin Avenue with a customer base making downtown Milwaukee a vibrant place to live, work, play and shop."

The Boston Store in the Shops at Grand Avenue is located at 331 W. Wisconsin Ave. For more information contact them at (414) 347-4141.