Mall owner says it will redevelop Sears location


By Kalea Hall

khall@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

A crowd rushed into the Southern Park Mall Sears for a major sale, a Vindicator file photo taken in 1989 shows.

The picture contrasts the mostly empty parking lot at Sears today.

Sears Holdings Corp., which owns Sears and Kmart stores, announced Thursday it will close the Southern Park Mall Sears come mid-July.

Washington Prime Group, which owns the Southern Park Mall, said Friday it will “transform” the department store space as part of a multimillion-dollar redevelopment program that is focused on the addition of diversified tenants.

Washington Prime negotiated an early termination of Sears’ lease “to gain control of the real estate and commence redevelopment efforts.”

The company is in discussions with new tenants for the Boardman Sears, which will be announced in the future.

“We are excited for the opportunity to welcome new tenants to Southern Park Mall,” said Brian Gabbert, general manager of the Southern Park Mall, in a statement. “Our redevelopment efforts demonstrate our commitment to the Boardman community and Greater Youngstown area. We remain focused on providing our guests with an increasingly enjoyable environment to shop, dine and spend time together.”

The Southern Park Mall, which was opened in the late 1960s by the DeBartolo Corp., has more than 120 national and local retail, dining and entertainment options.

Columbus-based Washington Prime Group was formed in May 2014 following a spin-off from Simon Property Group – previous owner of Southern Park Mall – and acquired Glimcher Realty Trust in January 2015. Washington Prime has retail developments throughout the U.S.

In March, Washington Prime signed a definitive agreement to acquire, through a sale-leaseback transaction of $28.5 million, four Sears department stores and four adjacent Sears Auto Centers at Longview Mall, located in Longview, Texas; Polaris Fashion Place, located in Columbus, Ohio; Southern Hills Mall, located in Sioux City, Iowa; and Town Center at Aurora, located in Aurora, Colo.

The company said it will also control these properties for future redevelopment.

The Niles Sears location at the Eastwood Mall Complex, which is owned by the Niles-based developer the Cafaro Co., remains open.

Cafaro has already seen Sears closures at its other properties including two within the past year.

“We along with every other shopping development center in the country have been concerned about Sears and have been for some time,” said Joe Bell, Cafaro Co. spokesman. “Their situation hasn’t been very promising. We have been deliberately looking at potential replacements where Sears might opt to close a store.”

Sears Holdings has closed more than 200 Sears stores and more than 600 Kmart stores since 2015.

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