Brandon Holveck - Delaware News Journal
The last Sears in Delaware, a relic of the bygone big-box department store era, will close in mid-April.
The closure will leave Concord Mall without its main anchor of almost 30 years, putting further into question the future of the mall weeks after a New York-based company acquired it out of foreclosure.
Larry Costello, a spokesperson for Transformco, which owns Sears and Kmart, confirmed the decision to close the store in a statement to Delaware Online/The News Journal on Thursday morning. It was first reported by the Delaware Business Times.
Hampered by online competition and declining foot traffic, Sears and Kmart have closed more than 3,500 stores resulting in the loss of about 250,000 jobs over the past 15 years.
Once the Concord Mall Sears closes, both Sears and Kmart will be extinct in Delaware.
Concord Mall's future
Namdar Realty Group, a commercial real estate investment firm from Long Island, New York, recently acquired Concord Mall from Delaware-based Allied Retail Properties. Allied operated the mall for more than 20 years.
Namdar has been aggressively purchasing struggling malls throughout the U.S., becoming one of the country's largest mall ownership groups in a matter of years. The firm has rarely made significant investments in redeveloping its properties.
Concord Mall, built in 1968, has lagged significantly behind other shopping destinations in the region in terms of its appearance and store offerings. Its last major renovation was in 1994, and roughly one-third of the mall is empty.
Last month, AB Sports, a sports memorabilia store, and Retro Fitness added to the mall's long list of vacancies. Remaining anchor tenants include Boscov's and Macy's. Macy's has been closing hundreds of stores amid steep sales declines, but its Delaware locations appear to be safe for now.
Already heading toward foreclosure, having largely failed to adapt as other shopping centers and malls added entertainment centers, gyms and grocery stores to stabilize foot traffic, the mall faces the question of survival.
In a statement to Delaware Online/The News Journal, Namdar said it is in talks with potential tenants and wants to transform the mall into "a lifestyle, mixed-use development."
"Unfortunately, Sears has chosen to close its location," said Elliot Nassim of Mason Asset Management, which works under Namdar. "We are still very excited about the potential of this property."
Large empty stores
Six Kmart and Sears stores have closed in the last two years. While most are still vacant, plans are in the works to redevelop locations in Newark and Prices Corner.
Demolition recently began in the Prices Corner shopping center, where Target will take the place of a former Sears as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project including restaurants and new stores.
The Kmart in Newark's College Square shopping center closed at the end of 2018 to make way for a new mixed-use community.
Other stores to close over the past two years include the Sears at the Dover Mall and Kmart stores in Governor's Square in Bear and on Limestone Road in Pike Creek.
The last Kmart in Delaware, located in Rehoboth Beach on Coastal Highway, is scheduled to close Feb. 16.
Plans have not been announced for any of those stores.