What’s next for Sears at Brookfield Square?
Store’s new owner explores redevelopment options; no plans to close

By Chris Bucher - Freeman Staff

Feb. 7, 2017

Sears at Brookfield Square Mall.
Chris Bucher/Freeman Staff

BROOKFIELD — Sears, a longtime staple at Brookfield Square Mall, has been sold to CBL & Associates Properties, Inc.

According to a news release by Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL, the Sears at the mall, 115 S. Moorland Road in Brookfield, was one of five of the department stores across the nation acquired through a large-scale sale-leaseback. The firm said it intends to redevelop the Brookfield Sears down the line, though nothing is for certain as far as it closing.

“CBL’s purchase of the Sears store allowed us to recapture prime real estate for future redevelopment,” CBL Director of Public Relations Stacey Keating said. “There are no plans for Sears to close at this time and the store will continue to operate as normal.

“We anticipate redeveloping the Sears location in the future, but are in the very early stages of exploring what opportunities are the best fit for the market. It will take some time for those plans to be finalized.”

The sale comes nearly two months after Sears reported mounting losses. The company’s revenue fell 12.5 percent in the fiscal third quarter, with losses increasing from $454 million to $748 million from the third quarter the year before. In trying to end the losses, the company said to its investors that it would try to “accelerate” store closings.

Sears had previously owned the building, and will now operate under a 10-year lease as part of the deal. As part of the transaction, CBL reserves the right to terminate the agreement within six months notice, except during the holiday season (November-January), Keating said.

CBL and Associates is the management company that owns the mall.

“We are proactively transforming our market-dominant shopping centers to meet the changing preferences of consumers,” Stephen Lebovitz, president & chief executive officer at CBL, said. “This transaction provides CBL with the opportunity to redevelop prime real estate and attract exciting new uses at some of our best shopping centers.”

The total transaction amount for the five stores was $72.5 million. In addition to the Sears at the mall, CBL purchased locations in Chattanooga, one in Fayetteville, North Carolina, one in Cincinnati, Ohio and also one in Louisville, Kentucky.

Redeveloping Brookfield Square

Brookfield Square is already in the midst of extensive renovations, with the seventh phase of construction nearing.

Those plans include a three-level, 275 vehicle parking deck, with an elevator and walkway to Boston Store. Tentative plans for the mall also call for 53,440-square-feet of retail space, much of which will be in front of Boston Store.

Members on the Brookfield Plan Commission largely supported the mall’s plans at a January meeting.

At the meeting, Brookfield Director of Community Development Dan Ertl said the construction timeline for the improvements “could start when the weather breaks in the spring.”

Email: cbucher@conleynet.com