Former Sears space listed for lease – and not as retail space

Feb. 16, 2021

The former Sears location at The Empire Mall might not be filled or redeveloped by a retailer.

In keeping with nationwide trends, property owner Simon is open to filling it with other uses, which could include health care or office space.

The 100,000-square-foot anchor to the mall has been co-listed with Sioux Falls-based Bender Commercial Real Estate Services and the Chicago office of JLL, a commercial real estate and property management firm.

“There’s really been a transition of a lot of big-box retail to health care across the country, and their first task was to let us get it in front of really all the providers in town that could look at it, and we did that, and there’s some interest,” founder Michael Bender said.

“But then they wanted us to release it to the general public. All the classic reuse of big-box retail is in play now, and they’re open. To find local tenants, they have to have local expertise.”

Those tenants could include back-office operations, traditional office use or even worship space.

“That would be a great mega-church,” Bender said. “I’ve even seen last-mile warehousing.”

Other reuses for department stores nationwide have included hotels, restaurants, entertainment centers and fitness centers — all categories that have been challenged during the pandemic.

Since Sears closed in September 2018, temporary tenants have leased the space. Camping World currently has a seasonal lease that’s up in early spring.

And the plan is still to eventually open a Dillard’s in the former Younkers space.

“The foot traffic is still solid in there,” Bender said of the mall.

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Former Sears space listed for lease – and not as retail space

The former Sears location is on the market for lease – and not necessarily to another retailer.

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