Seritage Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust created in 2015 to buy and then lease back more than 250 Sears and Kmart stores throughout the country, is looking to lease the lower level of the Sears store at North Riverside Park Mall.

The company is also looking to lease the Sears Auto Center and build two restaurants in the parking lot north of the store, according to North Riverside Park Mall General Manager Harvey Ahitow.

Sears Holding Company sold about 265 stores to Seritage in 2015, including the one in North Riverside, netting the holding company a much-needed $2.7 billion at the time. The department store giant continues to hemorrhage cash, however. 

In December, the company reported that it lost $748 million in the third quarter of 2016.

One strategy Sears has employed in order to reduce the rent it’s now paying is to lease portions of its big-box stores to other tenants and shrink the Sears footprint.

Seritage has enlisted CBRE Inc. to market a portion of the Sears department store and auto center in North Riverside. According to listing information on CBRE’s website, Seritage is looking to lease 90,114 square feet of space, including the lower level of the present store and the 26,000-square-foot freestanding auto center to the northwest.

Ahitow said that Seritage is looking to lease the lower level area to between one and three tenants. Sears would consolidate its store into the upper level of the anchor location at the north end of North Riverside Park Mall.

Tenants have yet to be determined, Ahitow said.

With the success of Miller’s Ale House and strong sales at Olive Garden in the parking lot northeast of Sears, Seritage would also like to see one or two restaurants in the lot immediately north of Sears, Ahitow said. A couple of years ago, LongHorn Steakhouse was rumored to be going into that lot, but the deal never materialized and the restaurant ended up at the Cermak Plaza in Berwyn.

With the future of Sears up in the air – the company has closed nearly 2,000 Sears and Kmart stores in the past five years and plans on closing more in 2017 – Ahitow said leasing the lower level of the North Riverside Sears would be welcome news.

“We’re excited, because assuming Sears survives, and this is a good store for the company, we’ll have Sears in the upper level and new tenants in the lower.”

Elsewhere in the mall, Ahitow said management continues to negotiate an agreement with Classic Cinemas, which operates the movie theatres at North Riverside Park Mall, to increase their footprint.

While Ahitow said management would like to have sealed the deal in 2016, he remains optimistic that it can be done.

“[Classic Cinemas] is still very bullish on expanding to the north,” Ahitow said.

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