The long slow demise of Sears has been painful for those who used to love to look through the famous catalogs. These days the department store chain is perhaps remembered as a brick and mortar precursor to Amazon and other online shopping sites. However, as buying habits have changed, the stores for the budget conscious shopper fell on hard times.
A new beginning
According to recent reports, the old Sears and Kmart (whom Sears owns) buildings and property are being repurposed for a variety of jobs, including flexible workspaces, high-end shopping sites with restaurants, condominiums, other roles that reflect modern-day needs. Some have even remained Sears department stores, now renting from a new landlord.
This audacious shift is driven by Seritage Growth Properties, a company created by a group of wealthy investors that bought 235 stores for pennies on the dollar and repurposed ones where there were opportunities for more profitable uses. Ohio includes 10 locations, including one in Toledo at the Westgate Village Shopping Center that closed in 2017. The sale also gave the retailer that is closing stores left and right a much-needed infusion of $2.7 billion in cash.
The future may be bright
Seritage has plans to purchase more stores in the future and is already having some success with the ones purchased. How this affects commercial real estate in the Toledo area remains to be seen, but the upswing in the area's fortunes may spur development in the Westgate property or elsewhere.
Small to mid-sized investors with vision can also find properties to be repurposed. As with any business deal, however, it is smart to discuss the potential deal and how to best structure it with a lawyer experienced in real estate transactions.